Lizzie Hunsaker, Ph.D. 2019

Energy and Climate Policy Advisor, U.S. Senate – Washington, DC

2019 Ph.D., Chemistry

How has being a Chemistry graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"My six years at Duke not only helped me build confidence as a scientist but also provided the space and support to explore my interest in science policy. When it became time to apply for opportunities post-Duke, I was in a great position because in addition to my publication record, I had participated in activities outside of my direct dissertation research - like taking a Bass Connections course, writing for Duke SciPol, volunteering for a climate advocacy organization, and attending a AAAS conference - to strengthen my understanding of the policy sphere and the unique value that scientists can bring."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Chemistry programs? 

"Your research comes first, but to the extent possible, make time for other activities that interest you either just for fun or related to what you may want to do in your career. When I first entered grad school, I didn't know I wanted to go into policy, and it took some time and trying a few different things before it became clear that that was the path I wanted to take post-graduation. Even though it can be intimidating at first, talk to as many people as possible who are doing the things you think you might want to do. These conversations will help you hone your interests and the connections you make will be invaluable as you navigate what you want to do post-Duke. Plus, you may find, like me, you come back to your research feeling refreshed and energized after you take some time to focus on something else for a while."