In my own experience, without the support of various programs and many mentors, I would not be where I am today. It has been my personal mission to give others this same kind of support.
Research Focus: Revolutionizing the Electronics Industry with Selective Deposition
My research is critical in pushing nanoscale fabrication to smaller length scales. Modern top-down strategies use physical patterning techniques which have become a major bottle-neck as devices shrink. The technique that I study, selective deposition, allows for placement of thin layers of material only in desired regions on a surface and is more reliant on surface chemistries. Selective deposition provides a way to build nanoscale structures from the bottom up and has applications in semiconductor chips, sensors, catalysts and possibly, even quantum computing. Progress in this work could change the way we design and make electronic devices. My research has allowed me to meet and collaborate with some of the most brilliant minds in the semiconductor industry. Our collaborators emphasize the importance of our work and how impactful it could be. When I started at Stanford, I knew that I wanted to work on something that would have a tangible impact in the short term, so this has been very exciting.
Community Impact: Leaving a Legacy of Diversity and Inclusion at Stanford and Beyond
In my own experience, without the support of various programs and many mentors, I would not be where I am today. It has been my personal mission to give others this same kind of support. When I’m not in the lab, I like to get involved in STEM outreach, especially serving underserved and underrepresented communities. This includes serving on a committee for the Bay Area Graduate Pathways to STEM (GPS), a collaborative effort between the engineering schools at UC Berkeley and Stanford. Every year, the GPS symposium brings over 400 undergraduate students to campus to help demystify the process of applying to graduate school. The students are also connected with mentors and receive help on their application materials.
One of my proudest accomplishments has been the launch of the Stanford Exposure to Research and Graduate Education (SERGE) program. SERGE began as a Diversity & Inclusion Innovation Fund (DIF) grant proposal submitted by the Black Engineering Graduate Student Association, where I served as president. We saw a need for this program to increase the number of underrepresented students applying to engineering programs at Stanford. As a young organization, it was the first time that we had committed to tackling such a large effort so there were numerous challenges such as, building a new program from scratch, determining how best to recruit students, and figuring out how we could maximize program attendance and impact on a very small budget, to name a few.
Our inaugural program launched in October of 2017. The student feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Students who hadn’t known anything about graduate school were strongly considering it in their next steps and at least 4 of the 20 students who attended, applied to graduate engineering programs at Stanford. The program has since been adopted by the SoE’s office of Student Affairs and had its second consecutive run in 2018. Knowing that SERGE will go on to impact students’ lives, even in a small way, was definitely worth all the hard work. Ideally, my hope is that programs like this are no longer necessary as schools/departments make an effort to have more holistic recruitment processes that seek out students from all backgrounds. Until then though, I’m excited to follow the progress of SERGE in the years to come and will continue to champion this cause.
Dara Bobb-Semple, Stanford Graduate Student
STORY AND PHOTO COURTESY OF STANFORD CHEMICAL ENGINEERING