Julia Miller
Undergrad: Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA - Chemistry
Track: Organic Synthesis
Internship: WR Grace
Currently in Medical School



For undergrad, I went to Grinnell College, a small liberal arts school in rural Iowa where I majored in chemistry. Organic chemistry was one of my most challenging classes, but was the one I enjoyed most. I found it fascinating how various chemicals interacted with each other to yield a multitude of products. I had a love-hate relationship with mechanisms and was always in awe of the seemingly endless routes to produce a product. The spring of my junior year I began performing independent research synthesizing a new class of phosphorus heterocycles. It was after I started this research that I actually began to apply some of that knowledge and really began to enjoy chemistry as a potential occupation. I was able to see beyond chemistry in the classroom and was excited about it’s possibilities.

I decided I wanted to try my hand at industrial chemistry after graduation, but I was having little luck applying to jobs. I then discovered the UO’s Master’s Industrial Internship program. It sounded like an awesome program where you could not only earn a master’s degree but also gain industrial experience. It seemed like a win-win; and it was.

I started the program in the organic track the spring of 2011. The summer consisted primarily of labwork where I was able to further hone my skills. We also had some professional development sessions where we learned about effective resume, interview, and presentation skills. This portion may often be overlooked by prospective scientists, but being able to effectively communicate your work as well as sell yourself is a key part of landing a job and being prosperous in an industrial position.

In the fall, I began my internship at WR Grace in Albany, OR where I synthesized a variety of amino acids and organometallic catalysts. I worked both on small-scale and large-scale, including being the chemist in charge on various processes in the plant. It was great experience and I learned lots of chemistry and a lot about chemistry in industry.

The spring of 2012 as my internship was ending and graduation was approaching, I began applying for jobs. I received several interviews and was ultimately offered a position at Elementis Specialties in New Jersey. At Elementis, I synthesize custom additives.

I have no doubt that the skills and experience gained during the master’s program allowed me to find a fulfilling job. The program not only helped to cultivate the scientific knowledge required, but also facilitated my job hunt and interview process, giving me the confidence to effectively prove said knowledge in the interview and beyond. I highly recommend this program for anyone thinking about a career in science.