Emily Asenath-Smith FP '08 Wins NSF Fellowship

Posted: June 2, 2008

Emily Asenath-Smith FP '08, who recently graduated summa cum laude, has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship by the National Science Foundation to pursue graduate studies in ceramic engineering at Alfred University in New York, a school well known for its ceramics arts and technology programs.

A chemistry major and mathematics minor, Asenath-Smith has been interested in the artistic and functional aspects of ceramics and pottery since she was seven years old. She has had her own pottery studio for several years and came to Mount Holyoke to learn more about the chemical aspects of glazes and clays.

In studying chemistry at Mount Holyoke, Asenath-Smith has gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of the scientific properties of ceramics. "Ceramics are great because of their ability to withstand high temperatures, and their resistance to corrosion, which makes them durable to a wide variety of applications where polymers and metals fail," she said.

Asenath-Smith is particularly interested in how ceramic materials can generate electricity from heat, through what is known as the thermoelectric effect. "These thermoelectric materials can be used for a wide variety of alternative energy applications and have the potential to relieve our current energy crisis." At Alfred, she plans to work on the development of these thermoelectric materials.

Asenath-Smith is grateful for the guidance of David Gardner, assistant director for prehealth and science advising at the Career Development Center, in crafting her proposal. "He provided very helpful feedback and was responsive to my persistent drive to make my proposal concise," she said.

Asenath-Smith will be moving to Alfred, New York, over the summer with her husband and three young children. Currently, she is working in associate professor of chemistry Wei Chen's lab at MHC.

Five MHC alumnae were recognized with honorable mentions in this year's list of NSF graduate research fellowship recipients. They are Clarissa Sabella '05, evolutionary biology, Yale University; Heidi Roop '07, geosciences-paleoclimate, Northern Arizona University; Sarah Parent '05, geosciences-paleontology, SUNY at Stony Brook; Faith Kares '03, cultural anthropology, Northwestern University; and Viviane Callier '06, evolutionary biology, Duke University.

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