Olivia Lenz

Graduate Student at the University of Washington


Class of 2011, Chemistry major

Lenz is currently finishing up her doctorate in materials science and engineering at the University of Washington. Her thesis work focuses on chalcogenide nanomaterials for renewable energy applications, specifically solar cells, and hyrdogen gas generation. Lenz is also involved with the Women Chemist’s Society at the UW, where she gets to support other women in STEM graduate programs.

How does your time at SPU connect to what you’re doing today?

My time at SPU directly set me up for success in graduate school. I received a solid foundation in chemistry and began to develop research skills and techniques that I use now on a daily basis. Additionally, my time in the University Scholars program aided me in developing critical reading and writing skills essential for communicating my research work to the larger community.

Which SPU faculty or staff member made a difference in your education?

So many faculty made a difference in my SPU education. Particularly, Dr. Kevin Bartlett in the Chemistry Department allowed me to do research under his guidance, as well as opening up a course in advanced organic chemistry that had only been run once previously, so that I and some classmates could learn more chemistry and lab skills.

What advice would you give to current SPU students?

Don’t be afraid to try new hobbies or apply for a job that isn’t directly in what you think you want to do for your career. Often those jobs teach you useful skills and give you the time to invest in your non-work community.