I’ve danced my whole life—hip-hop mostly—but in 2009 I started swing dancing, and today I dance in my free time and compete in dance contests whenever I can.
Still, I’m not about to quit my day job.
I’m a research technician in Clinton, New Jersey, for one of the world’s largest corporate R&D labs. There, I use a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer—like an MRI—to verify exactly the makeup of our lubricant and plastic samples.
Identifying the specific molecules in lubricants and polymers is important for a number of reasons. Like testing the quality of the additives that go in your car’s oil, or finding the exact contents of a certain kind of plastic. Ultimately what I do helps ensure the best end products, making everyone’s lives a little easier.
At Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, I studied biochemistry, thinking I’d go into medicine and oncology, or even toxicology, because I was fascinated by what made certain things poisonous. But during my sophomore year, a new teacher was looking for volunteers to help with her chemistry research, and I didn’t want to turn down what could be a cool experience. So I signed up. It was because of this experience that I transitioned into NMR research.
Today I work with multiple programs across different divisions at ExxonMobil, studying the structure of various organic compounds. That’s part of what keeps it interesting—no two days are ever the same.
At the end of the day, I often have swing dancing on my mind, and I am thankful for the supportive teachers at the dance studio I now call home.
I appreciate their support and sometimes think they are the spectrometer of the dance world—identifying the makeup of what makes a great dancer and zeroing in on how to make us better.
That, however, would be more science than art—two worlds with which I’m very familiar.