2024 graduates experienced pandemic-fueled disruptions that abruptly halted in-person classes and altered the way we would do things. Students learned quickly the skill of agility. The graduates of 2024 persevered and are poised to do great things. Texas ChE connected with a few, before exams and dissertations, to ask what they'll remember most about the department and what their plans are for the future. 


Jingyi Dai // Hangzhou, China

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

I’ll be working as a manufacturing process engineer at Procter & Gamble in Inwood, West Virginia. I’m thinking of working there for a few years, and then returning to school to get a masters or Ph.D., most likely in chemical engineering.

Q: Tell us about your time at UT:

I spent a lot of my time at UT on academics, including finishing my chemical engineering and math degrees and working in a polymer research group (Lynd Laboratory). I spent many sleepless nights in CPE with many of my fellow ChE friends. Fortunately, I also found a community outside of studying by joining Tau Beta Pi (TBP) and Omega Chi Epsilon. I participated in social, professional, and volunteering events, and took on leadership roles by becoming the president of Tau Beta Pi during my last semester. In my free time, I like to play ping pong, draw cats, and cook. Overall, I made countless valuable memories at UT.

Q: Your most memorable moment at UT…

My engineering honor society TBP participated in E-week this spring. Numerous small and big orgs came together to compete in fun events and challenges. For a whole week, I led my TBP org in almost 40 events (we collectively participated in all ~50 events). We ranked in the top three for the majority of those. We would run from event to event with no break, but with high spirits and rushing adrenaline. We even drove to DFW to complete 20+ challenges. At the end of the week, we took First Place among all small orgs. A moment of glory and honor after a week of sweat and tears!

Q: Why would you encourage incoming freshmen to choose chemical engineering?

Chemical engineering leads to so many possibilities. Your future is limitless and everyone wants you – chemical engineers are needed everywhere, even unexpected fields such as law, medicine, banking, etc. Moreover, this major will provide you with both discipline and guidance, and you’ll come out with strong problem solving, time management, and teamwork skills that will benefit you for life.

Q: Best advice for preserving mental health while in ChE?

Go outside in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day. Sometimes, when schoolwork gets so exhausting and it’s difficult to keep going, it might be better to drop everything and refresh your brain by sitting outside for a bit. Also, when you lose confidence, just know that everyone around you probably feels the same, and you are never alone in your struggles in this major.


Alexia Henley // Sealy, TX

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

I’m going to take a month or so to relax(!) and then will be moving down to Corpus Christi to start as a process plant engineer for Koch Industries. I’m very excited to live right on the beach!

Q: Tell us about your time at UT, and how you got involved:

I met so many cool, interesting, and absolutely brilliant people in the department. There are many incredible professors here and I have really enjoyed learning from them!

A handful of things really helped me grow throughout the years. I graded for CHE363 Separation Processes and CHE354 Transport Processes as well as tutored for CHE363. In my junior year, I was a peer coach for Women in their Second Year of Engineering (WISE) and I joined Tau Beta Pi. In my sophomore and junior years, I did undergrad research in Dr. Johnston’s lab. These experiences, and the incredible people I was surrounded by, helped me grow into a more confident person!

Q: Why would you encourage incoming freshmen to choose chemical engineering?

The unique skillset you develop here is unmatched. It’s a tough major, and it’s important to come in with that in mind, but from it you gain incredible problem-solving skills and a resiliency that I think is special. It’s so versatile too!

So many people I know are going in a million different directions–medical school, graduate school, and all kinds of different industries. Something that a lot of us go through in the beginning is trying to understand what a chemical engineer does, exactly. The answer to that is really anything you want to do! Consulting, banking, traditional engineering, law. We develop a way of tackling big problems and breaking them down that’s so broadly applicable that there are so many paths we can take.

Q: What will you miss most about The McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering?

Definitely the sense of community we have here in the department. The McKetta lounge and the computer labs are always stuffed with ChE students working on one thing or another, and there’s always an opportunity to meet other students and learn about their journey. Or just relax and get coffee together! In my earlier years, I could always count on an upperclassman jumping in if they heard me struggling with something in the lounge, and now I’ve been able to return the favor in my last few years.

There’s a sense of “we’re all in this together” and there’s something special about being able to recognize so many of those around you. With the professors too, you tend to see them year after year and they learn your face, your name, and your story. You feel like more than just a nameless face here, and it’s something I’ve come to love about the ChE department and something I’ll always look back fondly on.



Laura Azouz // Cairo, Egypt

RESEARCH LAB: Jennifer Maynard (Maynard Lab)

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

I will continue my research in my lab until the end of summer, and in the meantime will be applying to postdocs and other positions that will allow me to develop as an undergraduate research mentor.

Q: Tell us about your time here, and how did you get involved at UT?

I joined the chemical engineering Ph.D. program in the fall of 2018 after graduating with my bachelor's and visiting many chemical engineering programs. I appreciated the quality of research that I could be a part of as well as the social activities in Austin and the great weather.

I've been a part of the program since then, conducting research, taking classes, teaching, and being as involved as I can. *Azouz received the TA of the Year Award (2019-2020).

Q: Your most memorable moment at UT…

Having a partial and a total solar eclipse pass by Austin in quick succession was definitely a big highlight. I enjoyed watching those, and the event that UT put together.

Q: Best advice for preserving mental health / support while in ChE?

It was very important to me to have times where work was off limits. It can be easy to keep doing the next thing when you have open-ended projects, but on Sundays I tried to not check email or do any work. 


Andi Crowell // Windermere, Florida

RESEARCH LAB: Adrianne Rosales (Rosales Group)

2024 GRAD Andi CrowellQ: What are your plans after graduation?

Research related to synthesizing and characterizing polymeric materials has been especially interesting to me, so I hope to continue work in this area. I am excited about opportunities in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries as well as post-doctoral fellowships in academia, so I am applying for both!

Q: Tell us about your time here, and how did you get involved at UT?

Shortly after starting at UT, I joined Dr. Adrianne Rosales’ research group. Her group’s research involves developing dynamic polymeric materials with tunable properties. Within that context, the focus of my research is injectable, self-healing hydrogels, which are water-swollen polymer networks that can be used in applications such as delivery of therapeutics. Part of the broader research efforts by UT’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), I have participated in valuable collaboration opportunities with other researchers in the center. I have also enjoyed being involved in the department through leadership opportunities in the Graduate Leadership Council (GLC) and the Graduate Student Seminar Series, in addition to STEM outreach activities in the community.

Q: Your most memorable moment at UT…

Through MRSEC’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program--where undergraduate students from other universities work in research labs at UT during the summer--I mentored an amazing student from Texas State University. It was fun to see her enthusiasm for the research in the lab, and it was also valuable to learn from her wonderful ideas. One of the best moments was the poster session at the program’s conclusion, where she won an award for her presentation of all that she had accomplished over the summer. She continued research at Texas State afterwards, and since the MRSEC at UT has a collaboration with Texas State, it has been great to keep in touch and stay up to date about her ongoing work.

Q: Why would you encourage incoming freshmen to choose chemical engineering?

There is so much that you can do with a chemical engineering degree. With the fundamentals of transport, thermodynamics, and kinetics, chemical engineers are well-positioned to solve problems across a wide range of research topics and industries.


Aaliyah Z. Dookhith // Curepipe, Mauritius

RESEARCH LAB: Gabriel Sanoja Lopez (Sanoja Lab)

2024 GRAD Aaliyah DookhithQ: Tell us about your time at UT:

I arrived at UT in August 2019 as a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering–came to the program right from my bachelor’s in chemical engineering from NYU. I had the opportunity to do undergraduate research and had great mentors that really encouraged me to pursue graduate school.

I was Dr. Gabriel Sanoja’s first student and spent one year abroad at ESPCI ParisTech with him. I had a very adventurous Ph.D. experience, with the time spent in France, the pandemic and setting up a lab. But I also had a great support system here at UT that made it a very successful and memorable time for my career.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

I will be a post-doc at Columbia University, working with Dr. Sanat Kumar and Dr. Neil Dolinski. I want to stay in academia and aspire to have my own research group one day.

Q: Your most memorable moment at UT…

Setting up the lab with Gabo (my advisor) and Anthony (lab mate). We really bonded through that experience and it was kind of gratifying to convert an empty room into a functional lab where we could do research.

Q: What will you miss most about The McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering?

The people here are what I will miss the most.

Q: Why would you encourage incoming freshmen to choose chemical engineering?

Someone once described it as ‘the love for mathematics and the periodic table’ to me and convinced me it was the right major for me. It’s a beautiful major if you like solving problems and the chemistry of materials.

**Texas ChE approached a diverse cross-section of the graduating class. These five graduates responded.