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Mary Kate Caucci

Q&A with Chemistry GSA President Mary Kate Caucci

25 March 2024

Mary Kate Caucci, Chemistry Graduate Student Association president recently shared with us her experience leading the Chemistry GSA and how chemistry graduate students can get involved.

Q: What is your research area?

MKC: My research topic is computational materials/chemistry. I work on modeling rare-earth high-entropy oxides for accurate property predictions, and it’s part of Penn State’s Materials Research Science & Engineering Center. My focus is on quantifying material structure-property relationships to guide the synthesis and characterization of novel crystals that have the potential to expand the limits of ionic conductivity.

Q: What is your role in the Chemistry GSA?

MKC: I am the current President of the Chemistry GSA, and I’ve previously held roles as the Professional Development Chair and an Outreach Delegate.

Q: What has been your favorite experience as the Chemistry GSA President? 

MKC: It’s hard to pick just one! It’s been wonderful to work with so many fellow graduate students who are equally interested in giving back to our community and contributing to the overall well-being of our department. The best experiences have been attending many of the community-building events our board organizes, including the trivia nights and tailgates co-hosted with other graduate student organizations. I’ve really enjoyed aiding the transition of incoming students to our program in the fall and helping welcome prospective students during our spring open house weekend. Yet, I must admit, my personal favorite moment as Chem GSA President was putting together a department-wide pet-costume contest last October!

Q: Do you have any upcoming events and how can Chemistry students become more involved in the GSA? 

MKC: Following last year’s popular Earth Day hike, we will again host an April hike with an organized carpool. On April 8th, there will be a workshop on race, gender, and power dynamics in the workplace co-organized with the Climate and Diversity Committee and the Gender and Equity Center. Towards the end of April, we have an outreach event in collaboration with Discovery Space. Anyone interested in doing science demonstrations with elementary-age students should keep their eye out for sign-ups. More information on our upcoming events will be out soon!

Students can become more involved in the Chemistry GSA by attending our events, becoming a delegate, or joining a GSA committee. Our Professional Development, Outreach, Community Building, and Resource chairs could always use assistance in organizing various events throughout the year. The interest form for delegate positions will be out after April 1st. Students can keep up to date with the Chem GSA by checking out our website or following us on X (@ChemGSA_PSU), Instagram (@psuchemgsa), or Facebook (PSU Chemistry GSA).