Scientist Spotlight: Danielle Maxwell

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Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am a Chemistry Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. As a chemistry graduate student, my job includes taking chemistry and education classes, teaching general chemistry lab, and researching the teaching and learning of chemistry at the college level. In my free time I like to read, bake cookies, watch Friends on Netflix, and play with my cat, Minerva!

What’s one thing people get wrong about your work?

You do not have to work at a lab bench to be a chemist! I work with teachers and undergraduate students for my research projects and rarely have to work in a wet lab.

What’s the best part about what you do?

The best part of my job is working with two phenomenal groups of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and research advisors. In addition to being wonderful people, both of my research groups do amazing science! Knowing that my work will directly impact the teaching and learning of undergraduate students is what keeps me excited about my research.

Why is outreach important to you?

I participate in the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program because I want to encourage future scientists to pursue careers in STEM, just like my teachers encouraged me! Science outreach is important to me because without science education, future generations will not be able to solve the problems of today and tomorrow.

What advice would you give a middle school student who is unsure about pursuing a STEM career?

To the middle schooler who is excited about STEM but doesn’t think they can attain a career in STEM, know that I believe in you and that you are capable of such great things. Every scientist was once a middle schooler with a passion for STEM, just like you. If you want to pursue a career in STEM, do it! Keep asking questions, talk to your teacher and family about careers in STEM, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

The number one key to success in my field is persistence, even when you are faced with failure or rejection.


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