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Heather Andreas, assistant professor

A day in the life

Heather Andreas, assistant professor

andreas_profile

We always take students on to do research here, because chemistry is about finding the answers to questions, and we do that in the lab.

A passion that drives and inspires students


“I have an uninspiring story,” says Heather Andreas, assistant professor of chemistry, with a self-deprecating laugh.

But that’s not true – Dr. Andreas’ story teaches us a simple lesson in how to be happy.

Two years into her undergraduate degree, she left university to work abroad, not sure what  kind of career she wanted. When she returned to finish her degree, she wanted to study whatever returned her to the “real world” as fast as possible. An advisor said she had mostly chemistry credits, so she majored in chemistry.

Working in a chemistry laboratory changed her life. She never left university. Her lesson: “Find what you like to do. That’s all that matters.”

“It wasn’t until I got to do research that I was like, Oh my goodness, chemistry is where I am happy,” she recalls.

Every year, Dr. Andreas invites undergraduates to work in her research group. She believes labs are where students get to see real, creative approaches to science.

“We always take students on to do research here” she says, “because chemistry is about finding the answers to questions, and we do that in the lab.”

Dr. Andreas is an electro-chemist who invents and improves on green technologies. One of her major research projects is on supercapacitors, a new kind of battery that provides quick bursts of intense energy for products like electric vehicles or camera flashes on cell phones.

“We try to find out what is stopping them from going into commercialization and how do we fix those problems,” she says. “It’s a new and emerging field and that makes it very exciting.”

Dr. Andreas says all her peers in the Department of Chemistry love their work – their commitment is often what attracts new students to the chemistry program.

“We are all experts on different topics. We can go into a lecture and talk about real-life applications. It’s what makes us passionate about it, and I think that’s the point where a lot of people turn on.”