Heather Hunt
Dr Heather K Hunt
Associate Professor, University of Missouri
Columbia, MO

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Close Up
  • What I Do

    <p>&lt;p&gt;I am an Associate Professor at the University of Missouri.&amp;nbsp; My research extends from biomaterials to the field of biophotonics, which is the intersection of light and biology. The work I do is primarily chemistry and materials development. I explore the relationships between the surface chemistry, structure, and physical properties of advanced materials that can be used in optics, electronics, and environmental applications.&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • Why Engineering?

    <p>&lt;p&gt;I chose engineering because I loved how math and science interconnected, and I wanted the opportunity to be able to help my community directly. Engineers provide the infrastructure of society, and can impact so many people very easily. We&amp;#39;re unique in that we truly have the opportunity to lead society into a sustainable future by the things we do as engineers. Very few careers have that kind of opportunity.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • School Days

    <p>&lt;p&gt;I went to Iowa State University, where I earned my Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering. After that, I attended graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, California, where I earned my Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • My Day At Work

    <p>&lt;p&gt;As a Post-doctoral scholar, I do a mix of things. I pursue my own research in our laboratory, I mentor and train both undergraduate and graduate students, and I act as the lab manager, which means that I make sure everything is going smoothly for our students, and help out when it isn&amp;#39;t. Sometimes this means I fix very expensive pieces of equipment, and sometimes it means handling administrative tasks to keep the group running efficiently. The best part about my current position is that I have a chance to both mentor and teach (as a guest lecturer) students here at the university.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • Best Part

    <p>&lt;p&gt;I like seeing a project come to life - to take something from an idea or theory and actually make it physically, then test it to see how it works. It&amp;#39;s kind of like being able to play all day, but with expensive toys and the joy of knowing that what we&amp;#39;re making could someday change the world.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • Proud Moments

    <p>&lt;p&gt;I&amp;#39;m very, very proud of earning my Ph.D. at Caltech, and winning a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship during that time.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • Challenges

    <p>&lt;p&gt;Interestingly, the greatest challenge when you go to graduate school is your ability to do excellent research. What most people who don&amp;#39;t have a career in research don&amp;#39;t realize is how difficult it can be to make things work on a research project. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to finally make everything work, and of course, it takes a lot of knowledge about the science and theory of what you&amp;#39;re doing.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • My Family

    <p>&lt;p&gt;My husband is also a chemical engineer (we met in college), but he works in the finance industry as a Chartered Financial Analyst. My parents, who live in Iowa, are both scientists by training. My mom has a degree in computer science, and my dad has a degree in physics. They both earned their undergraduate degrees when I was very young, while they both worked full-time, so they were great role models who showed me the importance of a good education, even if it meant a lot of hard work. In fact, they joke that I started my college education when I was a baby &amp;ndash; they sometimes had to bring me to class when they couldn&amp;rsquo;t find a babysitter. I also have two older siblings; my sister is a civil engineer for an environmental consulting firm, and my brother is a sales executive for a professional sports team.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • Inspiration

    <p>&lt;p&gt;My parents and the faculty at Iowa State have had the greatest influence on me. My parents taught me to work hard, and to never take for granted the chances I was given. The ISU faculty opened up my eyes to all the things that engineers could do, and really supported me through my undergraduate and graduate education. They&amp;#39;ve been wonderful role models and friends.&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • Want to be an Engineer?

    <p>&lt;p&gt;I would suggest taking as many math and science classes as possible, and to volunteer with local engineering companies to get a feel for what being an engineer is like. I also recommend getting involved with groups that promote women going into engineering - for instance, many Girl Scout troops have science and engineering activities, and have connections with universities and companies. Additionally, there are a lot of after-school and summer programs run by groups like Women in Science and Engineering that can really help you decide which type of engineer you&amp;#39;d like to be. Search out opportunities to expand your knowledge, and have fun while doing it!&lt;/p&gt;</p>

  • Hobbies

    <p>&lt;p&gt;I have a lot of hobbies, so I don&amp;#39;t do any of them as much as I would like. I really enjoy hiking and camping, so I&amp;#39;ve been to a lot of National Parks with my friends and family. I&amp;#39;m not a great athlete, but I really enjoy training for and running triathlons, especially since my husband has recently taken up running marathons for fun. I also really enjoy scrapbooking all the pictures we take doing everything, and reading as many books as I can. I&amp;#39;m definitely a fan of mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy, although I&amp;#39;m starting to like a lot of history books as well. We also have three wonderful cats who like to play in cardboard boxes, and a Newfoundland, so they keep us on our toes a lot.&nbsp;</p>

Biography
I received my B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University (2004), and my M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (2007, 2009) in the research group of Prof. Mark E. Davis. I was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for her doctoral work. After graduating, I joined the research group of Prof. Andrea M. Armani, in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Southern California, as a Postdoctoral Scholar. I was awarded the 2010-2011 WiSE Merit Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research for her work in the Armani Lab. In 2011, I joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Missouri, and in 2017, was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. I also hold courtesy appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Dermatology in the School of Medicine. Awards University of Missouri Excellence in Teaching with Technology Undergraduate Teaching Award (2017) University of Missouri College of Engineering Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award (2015) 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award (2015) University of Missouri Outstanding Undergraduate Student Research Mentor Award (2014) University of Missouri Faculty Scholar (2012-2013) Materials Research Society (MRS) Travel Award for presentation excellence at the 2011 MRS Spring Meeting (2011) University of Southern California Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Merit Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research (2010 – 2011) NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Fellow (2004 – 2007) National Merit Scholar (1999 – 2004)
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Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to host a field trip to my place of employment.
Latest Questions
  • Chimuka

    Added Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 5:26 AM

    Hi, I graduated with a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering in May and have been job hunting without any success. I did really well in school and have co-op experience with good references. I apply to several jobs a day but keep getting rejection emails one after the other, even after revising my resume several times. The job search is getting a bit demoralizing as most of my classmates that didn't do well academically or didn't have good work ethics got jobs fairly quickly. I spend at ...
    Answers 1
    Heather Hunt, University of Missouri
    Answered Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 4:07 PM
    Congratulations on earning your B.S. in Chemical Engineering!  That's a great start to a great career.  I know the job search can be frustrating and difficult, and it sounds like you've been working hard on it for a while.  I have a few tips - some of ...
    Read More
  • Daezy, Miami asked Heather Hunt, University of Missouri

    Added Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Hello! So I changed my mind several times before realizing that I want to major in chemical engineering. Chemical engineering allows me to do work in pharmaceutical companies, and perfume/food industries. Also if I got a masters in Biomedical engineering, I could do some amazing work there. Chemical engineering just seems so exciting to me! However I received a full ride to a school (University of Miami) that only offers Civil, Electrical, Industrial, Manufacturing, Aerospace, Audio, ...
    Related to Bioengineering/Biomedical, Chemical, Choosing a Degree, Choosing a School, Medicine
    Answers 1
    Heather Hunt, University of Missouri
    Answered Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 7:33 AM
    Hi Daezy, Not having a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering does not mean youre doomed to never work in the fields that interest you! While chemical engineering degrees are a wonderful base to approach any career in science, engineering, ...Read More
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