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Avery A

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Princeton University


STEM education, chemical engineering, environmental engineering, biomolecules, molecular self-assembly, carbon storage and cycling, aquatic microorganisms


I’m a third-year PhD student who never stops contemplating his place in this world. I believe that a research-centered science education can be the means of activating an entire generation of young folk to truly upend the status quo of human and environmental exploitation. To that end, I think graduate school is far too late to begin pursuing your own world-changing research. Thus, I am interested in changing the culture of STEM into one where the ability to produce meaningful knowledge isn’t solely reserved for those with advanced degrees. Let’s work together to change this culture! My own scientific research aims are to understand how certain microorganisms in the oceans are able to create tiny universes for themselves, and how these universes are essential to oceanic carbon cycling. To investigate these systems I use a computational technique called Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations, which computes the location and velocities of each individual atom to understand the thermodynamic landscape of the system. It’s also capable of making really cool movies of phenomena at the atomic scale that otherwise would be impossible to see. This technique is widely used across the fields of chemical engineering, chemistry, and molecular biology. In addition, many experimentalists love to collaborate with MD scientists because they can help them explain confusing phenomena observed at the macro scale.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Contaminants in the Environment

Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations is a powerful tool that is consistently used to elucidate the molecular origin of observed phenomena. In the field of environmental science and engineering, the molecular insight obtained through MD simulations is of particular importance for developing predictive capabilities of how certain chemical species like heavy metals or organic contaminants might behave in the natural environment. For instance, MD simulations have been instrumental in understanding how the acutely toxic PFOA and PFOS (toxic above 70 parts per trillion) bind to natural soils. In this project, you and I will 1) conduct a literature review to determine a species of contaminant that is ripe for investigation using MD simulations; 2) design an MD simulation to elucidate the interaction of the chosen contaminant with an environmental system; 3) compile and summarize our research findings into a publishable paper.

Coding skills

MatLab, python

Teaching experience

In the summer of 2019, I taught a college-level freshman math course at a local women's prison. I have been tutoring students at that prison on a weekly basis since the spring of 2019. Mentor for the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) in biophysics at Princeton. Teaching assistant for two semesters in undergrad, and I have a graduate teaching assistantship scheduled for fall 2020.



Georgia Institute of Technology
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Princeton University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Completed Projects

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