Addie Clark: The Right Chemistry

Posted on: Friday, January 9th, 2015 by Brent Treash
Continuing her education seemed like the logical next step for chemistry education major Addie Clark, who graduated from Emory & Henry College in 2011.Clark is a fourth year doctoral candidate at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with plans to become an analytical chemistry professor.

Continuing her education seemed like the logical next step for chemistry education major Addie Clark, who graduated from Emory & Henry College in 2011.Clark is a fourth year doctoral candidate at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with plans to become an analytical chemistry professor.

Most of us are clueless when it comes to analytical chemistry, let alone how to teach it.

But, not Clark.

“I've wanted to teach from a young age. I went through a number of things I wanted to be when I was growing up, but it always seemed to come back to being a teacher. I didn't fall for chemistry until I was in high school,” explained Clark, who said her teacher’s passion for chemistry was contagious to her.

“When I got to E&H, I was exposed to several different disciplines [of chemistry] and while I considered many of them for a field of study, I always came back to the science and math. Analytical chemistry was a natural choice. Plus, it gives me a daily opportunity to play detective.”

At the university, Clark is responsible for conducting research on air quality in urban and remote environments, and looking at the organic compounds present in airborne particulate matter. “I’m using analytical techniques, such as mass spectrometry, to answer environmental questions, making a difference in how we assess contaminants using our new, innovative extraction methods.”  

Clark is currently finishing the development of an extraction method that will maximize the amount of information obtained per sample by maximizing the number of organic compounds extracted at once. “We are aiming to understand how anthropogenic chemicals, such as pesticides and flame retardants, move in the atmosphere,” Clark said. “In addition, we are among the first groups in Texas, as well as in the United States, studying emerging contaminants, such as organophosphate flame retardants, in urban areas like Houston, Texas.

“Graduate school has good and bad days. There are days when I feel like I could take on the world, and days when I want to throw in the towel. Fortunately, the good days outnumber the bad and that’s what keeps me going. I also remind myself that if this journey were easy, everyone would do it,” she said.

“I also have a great support system of family and friends who keep me going and encourage me on the bad days to head back into the lab and keep at it.”

Clark credits her E&H chemistry professors, Dr. Michael Lane and Dr. Laura Hainsworth, for instilling confidence in her. “They continue to encourage me in my graduate studies. They believe in me. If not for their support, I would not have chosen graduate school or made it through the hard days once here,” she said.

“E&H taught me about my capabilities. It taught me that I was capable of more than I ever thought I could be. It taught me to be a better person and to embrace the things that make us different, instead of using them to hurt each other.”

Clark continued, “I came to E&H because I didn’t want to be a number. I wanted to be a name and a face. I was confident that I wasn’t going to be lost in the shuffle of a lecture hall of 200 students.”

Beyond the classroom, the alumna considers the friends she made on campus and within the community as her greatest accomplishments. “No doubt, the quality education I received is enabling me to purse higher education.”

 

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Major: Chemistry Education

Extra-Curricular Activities: Served as resident advisor and head resident advisor, reporter and copy editor for The Whitetopper, served on Emory Activities Board, and a member of the E&H chapter of the American Chemical Society. Clark received the Honaker Award for contributions she made to the female resident life at E&H.


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