Chemistry student receives competitive national fellowship

Mariel Price, a Department of Chemistry third-year Ph.D. candidate, is one of seven in the nation awarded with the Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) National Fellowship for the 2020-2021 academic year. As a fellow, Price will receive $6,750 in funding for the academic year, which will go toward supplies for her research such as chemicals and equipment.

Transforming plastic into higher-value materials

Price’s research proposal for the GWIS Fellowship outlined using light as a source of energy to modify the chemical structure of plastics, making the plastic easier to reuse and recycle. This research involves developing new technology on smaller molecules then carrying it over to larger molecules like polymers that are representative of plastic used in a variety of applications – packaging for consumer products, plastic parts for the automotive industry, specialty devices, textiles and so much more.

“I am honored to receive this fellowship and really excited to put it to use,” Price said. “It’s nice to have someone say, ‘This is a really great idea, we think it’s impactful science, and we want to support you in it.’”

By transforming these plastics into higher-value materials, Price hopes to help decrease their flow into landfills and the environment.

Prioritizing supporting women in science

Through its fellowship program, GWIS recognizes women who are performing hypothesis driven research in STEM and Social Science fields, and who show outstanding ability for promising careers. This year, $50,000 was distributed in research awards to the seven women scientists. Since 2008, the organization has awarded nearly $750,000 in research awards.

Price currently volunteers with GWIS working in their public relations department. She helps keep social media channels up to date with information on events, member news and opportunities.

“It is incredible to be part of an organization that makes supporting women in science a priority,” Price said. “It is great to connect with a larger community of women in the sciences through GWIS, and I intend to stay involved throughout the course of my career.”