Student Spotlight: Carolyn Cohen

Carolyn Cohen. Photo provided by Carolyn Cohen.
Carolyn Cohen. Photo provided by Carolyn Cohen.

Carolyn Cohen’s (EC ’14) has been awarded a 2014 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. NSF receives over 14,000 applications from across all scientific disciplines and picks 2,000 fellows each year. Fellows receive three years of stipend support at $32,000 per year and a $10,000 educational allowance. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards available to young scholars in the sciences.

Carolyn’s NSF award is the capstone to an undergraduate career in chemistry that is notable both for its breadth and depth, leading her to explore chemical concepts in the lab, the classroom…and even in Siena, Italy. In summer 2012, Carolyn travelled to Italy as part of the popular Summer Studies in Siena, Italy program. Carolyn took advantage of the summer program because it allowed her to fit travel abroad between busy semesters as a chemistry major and member of the Emory Women’s Swimming Team. She returned home with a deeper appreciation and understanding of Italian culture and of chemistry, ready to put her new knowledge to work doing organic synthesis research. In addition to exploring Italy through the lens of chemistry, Carolyn found that her summer in Italy helped her to build strong mentoring relationships with chemistry faculty, especially Simon Blakey.

Speaking of Carolyn’s achievements, Blakey praised Carolyn’s ability to quickly grasp difficult concepts and her patience when teaching others. “Carolyn exhibits a command of the chemical literature, a strong work ethic, and dedication in the laboratory,” said Blakey. “What amazes those of us who have come to know Carolyn as a remarkable Emory citizen is the fact that she has repeated this commitment, dedication, and excellence in many different environments.”

This includes the language classroom-last year, Carolyn received the Reppard Greek medal, the top prize in the Classics department. Carolyn serves as an ePass tutor for Greek and Latin, further evidence of her ability not only to master difficult concepts but to teach them to others effectively. Her willingness to teach is also evident in her weekly commitment to coaching special needs swimmers, a project that led her to attend the 2013 Georgia Summer Special Olympics to support swimmers in the program.

A Clare Booth Luce Research Scholar, Carolyn completed undergraduate research in the Davies Group at Emory and under the direction of Brian Stoltz at CalTech, both leaders in the field in C-H Functionalization. Huw Davies praised her abilities in the laboratory: “Carolyn is an exceptional student.  She is quiet, steady, and focused.  She is already performing at the level of a graduate student and I expect great things from her as she continues her research career.” Luce Fellowships are intended to encourage women pursuing careers in research and the physical sciences. To that end, Carolyn attends a mentoring group with other Luce scholars under the direction of graduate student Caitlin Davis (Dyer Group). Their support was integral in helping her to craft a successful NSF proposal.

Carolyn will apply her NSF award to graduate study in chemistry with an eye towards pursuing a research career in the pharmaceutical industry. She has recently accepted an offer of admission from Stanford University.