Donate Now

Brittani Love ’13: A Defining Sense of Self

As an undergraduate at Shepherd University, Brittani Love ’13 of Martinsburg was presented with the unique opportunity to begin independent research during her sophomore year – an experience many students at larger universities are not offered until their final semesters. During the 2010 fall semester, Brittani was introduced to the challenges and rewards of real scientific research when she began working in Dr. Mengyang Li’s physical chemistry lab characterizing fatty acid monolayers. The experience proved integral to her decision to pursue additional research opportunities, as well as an advanced degree in Chemistry.

Brittani continued the fatty acid monolayer study for two years, at which point her research culminated in presentations at NASA Day in spring 2011 and the Mid-East Honors Association Conference in spring 2012, where she was awarded second place in the poster presentation competition. These academic successes subsequently paved the way for Brittani’s award of a competitive National Science Foundation internship at the University of Washington in Seattle during the summer of 2012. It was there that she was introduced to the field of surface science, a subject she ultimately decided to pursue in graduate studies.

Upon her return to Shepherd for her senior year, Brittani was presented with the John R. Conard awards for Best Student Researcher in Chemistry (2012) and Best Graduating Senior in Chemistry (2013). The awards are just one facet of the John R. Conard Science Fund, created through the Foundation by the late John Conard in support of Shepherd’s School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Such recognition did not merely signify the culmination of Brittani’s hard work and dedication throughout her undergraduate career. Rather, it also represented the beginning of a new chapter in the graduating senior’s life.

“The John R. Conard Best Senior in Chemistry Award provided important financial support, without which I may not have been able to apply to more expensive, competitive graduate programs,” says Brittani, who is currently a first-year graduate student in the Physical Chemistry PhD program at the University of Texas in Austin. “The award was an incredibly important part of my academic career. It propelled me closer to realizing my dream of transforming from Brittani Love, undergraduate researcher, to Brittani Love, PhD in Chemistry, expert in her field, and advocate of science education.”