Enhancing Chemical Engineering Identity in Young Women With a Low-Cost Biomedical Polymer Outreach Activity





To increase interest in chemical engineering and introduce non-traditional chemical engineering fields to high school women, an outreach activity focused on the biomedical applications of polymers was developed. Surveys given to students before and after the activity demonstrated greater agreement with the statements “I am interested in chemical engineering” and “Chemical engineers help people” after the activity. Additionally, there was better alignment between students’ aspirations and chemical engineering as a result of the activity.

Author Biographies

Jessica E. Torres, Purdue University

Jessica E. Torres is a PhD candidate in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. She received her BS in chemical biological engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016. She received a 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support her studies. Her research focuses on the development of protein-based biomaterials for biomedical applications including tissue sealants and adhesives, and in vitro tissue models for drug delivery. 

Julie C. Liu, Purdue University

Julie C. Liu, PhD, received her BSE in chemical engineering from Princeton University. She was awarded a Whitaker Graduate Fellowship for her doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology. She received an NIH postdoctoral fellowship for her research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is an associate professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering at Purdue University. Her research interests include biomimetic materials, tissue engineering, stem cell differentiation, and surgical adhesives.