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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Claire Cody '18

New Haven, Connecticut

Major in Chemistry, Minor in Dance Studies

Claire, a Ph.D. student in chemistry at Yale, recently was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Claire Cody gives an interview at the commencement address.

Please tell us what you’ve been doing since graduating from Knox.

I went directly from Knox to graduate school, which is where I am now! My focus is on inorganic chemistry, and my thesis project is on the development of catalysts for use in solar fuel cells. 

Describe your time at Knox and the impact your education has had on your after-Knox life.

While at Knox, I tried to take advantage of the opportunities that were given me, and that led to some truly wonderful experiencesfrom study abroad to teaching to dance and music, going well beyond my chemistry major.

The most direct impact my Knox education has had on my after-Knox life was through chemistry. Knox gave me the chance to be involved in independent scientific research as an undergraduate, which was what enabled me to not only develop my passion for chemistry research but also led me to my Ph.D. position where I am now.

I am so grateful for the amazing, supportive chemistry faculty, and the close relationships I developed with them. My research advisor, Dr. Helen Hoyt, continues to write me recommendation letters and keeps in touch with all of the alumni from her lab. I recently received a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship, which I would not have gotten if not for all the wonderful opportunities I was given while at Knox!

Beyond the strong chemistry foundation my Knox education gave me, my most treasured takeaway from my Knox education is an appreciation for the bigger picture. Through the many friends I met at Knox who were from different paths in life, pursuing different fields of study, I learned so much beyond just my courses. In a true liberal arts sentiment, I know how important it is for me to be a well-rounded person open to the richness of life beyond just my chemistry laboratory.

Can you describe a favorite memory or two from your time at Knox?

There are so many! One of my favorite memories was from my sophomore year when I was a co-production manager for Terpsichore Dance Collective. As a production manager, I was responsible for the coordination, organization, and tech that went into putting on the formal fall dance show. Such student-driven programs were truly a special part of Knox, and that show remains one of my proudest memories to date.

Why is Knox important to you?

Knox is such a special, unique place full of some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. Where else are you able to put on a full dance production, take an astronomy course because you’ve always wanted to, have your ideas challenged, and listen to free jazz every Thursday night, as a chemistry major?

What words of encouragement would you like to offer to current Knox students during this pandemic crisis?

One thing I have been struggling with during this time at home is trying to hold myself to a standard of being “productive,” then feeling guilty when I don’t meet my own expectations for what I think I should be doing. I am sure that many others are feeling this way, so I’m saying this as a reminder to myself as much as to them: It’s okay. You are doing what you can, and that is wonderful. Go outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. Forgive yourself. Dance in your living room. This is a crazy and challenging time, and be kind to those around you and to yourself!

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Printed on Sunday, July 14, 2024