Grad Student Spotlight: Jessica DeYoung

Jessica DeYoung

Jessica is a University of Central Arkansas alumnus who was drawn to the field of chemistry by a yearning to understand how the world works. She cites the power of knowledge as a driving motivation, and she found her graduate school home in the Shaw group, whose work emphasizes the utility of analytical chemistry in understanding the environment.

Her research focuses on the films that build up on windows and other surfaces. She seeks to classify the chemical and physical properties of these films in order to understand what they reveal about air quality.

Using both films gathered through field sampling and model films generated in the lab, Jessica studies these properties. Defining the chemistry of these films often relies on using either infrared light to analyze the vibrations specific to molecular structure, or beams of high-energy electrons to create spatial maps of ejected x-rays that are elemental specific. To compliment, she uses a scanning electron and atomic force microscopies to determine the topographical, physical character. After classifying the material, she uses a quartz crystal microbalance to determine the rate of adsorption, specifically water uptake of the surfaces. This material often serves as a timestamp of the localized conditions and therefore can create models to predict the behavior. Defining the role of this material covering most outdoor surfaces will help us understand air quality and climate.

Looking ahead, Jessica hopes to one day serve as a professor in an undergrad institution or a small graduate program. She offers the following advice to those considering a graduate degree in chemistry: everyone on this track is in it to learn. Your thoughts and questions are valid – do not be afraid to speak up, to ask questions, and to contribute your ideas.


Our graduate students make a difference! Additional Graduate Student Spotlight pieces are linked here.