Umit Ozkan

Current Position: Professor of Chemical Engineering at Ohio State University
Umit Ozkan
Highlight Success is a journey. Enjoy the journey.
August 18, 2011Her job: Professor of Chemical Engineering, Ohio State University
Describe what you do in your current work situation? I am a professor of Chemical Engineering. I teach undergraduate and graduate classes. I do research in heterogeneous catalysis.
Why did you choose engineering? When I was growing up, I loved math and science, especially chemistry. Chemical engineering seemed like a good way of combining the two.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? I have B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees all in chemical engineering. B.S. and M.S. degrees are from Middle East Technical University in Turkey, my PhD is from Iowa State University.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? We do research in areas that are related to energy and environmental protection. Some of our recent projects involve developing precious-metal-free electrocatalysts for PEM fuel cells, producing hydrogen from bio-derived liquid and reducing NOx emissions from stationary sources.
What do you like best about being an engineer? Being an engineer requires continuous learning. It also requires being creative and resourceful in solving problems. I like both of these aspects.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? I had many talented students work in my laboratories and obtained Ph.D. degrees. I am always very proud of their accomplishments more than my own,
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? I started at Ohio State at a time when engineering was still considered "non-traditional" for women. Being a "first" sometimes posed challenges.
Please tell us a little about your family. I am married. My husband is also a professor (same university, different departments). We have a cat.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? Continuing my research in areas that are relevant and important and making a difference in those areas.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? My parents encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I think that was the most important influence in my life choices.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? Choose an area you feel passionate about and stick with it. At the same time, learn how to be flexible and handle change.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. I enjoy watching French movies and trying to improve my French. I like spending time with animals.