Graduate Student Spotlight: Shanice Taylor 

Ph.D. Student, Department of Chemical Engineering 

Shanice Taylor

This spotlight is a part of our 2023 International Women's Day Feature.

What inspired you to study engineering? Describe your path to graduate studies at UC Davis. 

I was inspired to study engineering, specifically chemical and biomolecular engineering, after seeing how much the field related to my childhood hobby of designing and constructing structures from toy components. In my field, biomolecules like DNA and proteins are engineered to build unique biological systems for health and energy purposes (i.e., pharmaceuticals, biofuels, biomaterials and specialty chemicals). While obtaining my bachelor's and master's in chemical engineering at Northwestern University, I conducted research involving characterizing a genetic engineering method in bacteria and yeast cells for producing biosensors. After a few years in the medical device industry as a pilot operations engineer, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering to study methods of engineering and bioprocessing plant biomolecules. This led me UC Davis, as the school has a large research community within the plant biotechnology field. 

Highlight your current research. What do you love about it, why are you excited, and how do you stay motivated? 

My current research involves purifying pharmaceutical proteins from transgenic lettuce. I'm excited about the fact that I'm learning about the techniques and equipment used to engineer nature, while also learning about optimizing downstream processes to use nature's bioproducts to benefit humanity. Envisioning the potential applications of this kind of research helps me to stay motivated. Plus, seeing and working with plants is a general mood booster! 

The 2023 International Women's Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. How do you embrace equity in the engineering field? 

I embrace equity by working to ensure that my research field is accessible to a general audience. Right now, I do this by presenting my research at conferences and answering students' questions about the engineering and biotech fields and graduate school in general. 

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