How does a CHEMISTRY MAJOR . . . Get to be a PROFESSOR?
Janice Hicks's father, who worked for a pharmaceutical company, was a major influence on her choice of career. She paid attention as he described the excitement of chemistry and his reverence for scientific research. By the time she was a first-year student at Bryn Mawr College, she knew that she wanted to be an academic researcher.
Today, Dr. Hicks is a tenured professor and respected researcher at Georgetown University—recipient of a Presidential Young Investigator Award. She has pioneered the use of ultrafast lasers to study surface phenomena relevant to atmospheric chemistry and biophysical chemistry. A long-term goal is to understand the three-dimensional shape of proteins absorbed at interfaces, such as the cell membrane.
"Graduate school was a natural step for me," Dr. Hicks recalls. "From my father I'd absorbed the belief that research was the 'ultimate' occupation. When I got to college I felt confident about my love for chemistry, I received excellent preparation, and the professors were people I wanted to be like. I remember how impressed I was when I saw my first academic procession—I thought that was the right place to be."
After graduating as a chemistry major, she took a year off from school and learned two important lessons. A sum