Hannah Snider Named 2022 Goldwater Scholar for her Research in Organic Chemistry – Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Hannah Snider, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering and chemistry, found her calling in the field of chemistry. Snider’s research endeavors have not gone unnoticed. She was named a 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholar, an award very rarely given to sophomore students.

Hannah Snider, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering and chemistry, found her calling in the field of chemistry. Whether it’s the creation of a new substance or how a chemical interacts with a system, Snider loves how chemistry integrates into everything in a perfect way.
“You can look at just about anything in the world and connect it to a chemical concept,” Snider says. “There are so many different and niche things that are happening in chemistry. Your results may be unexpected, and it’s a surprise to me every time.”
Snider’s research endeavors have not gone unnoticed. She was named a 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholar, an award very rarely given to sophomore students. She feels honored to be recognized on a national level for her research and for the impact she wants to have going forward.
Growing up, the Plainfield, Indiana, native always loved math and science. During her junior year of high school, she took an Advanced Placement chemistry class and fell in love with the field. That, coupled with her own struggle with an autoimmune disorder, illustrated to Snider how chemistry has an impact on so many different levels, from disease treatment to the environment.
“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease during my sophomore year of high school, and it was a six-year long journey to figure out what was going on with me,” Snider says. “Getting injection treatments was one the most amazing things to happen to me. I couldn’t believe I was missing out of the treatments that made my life better.”
Snider reached out to the scientist who invented her Crohn’s treatment and thanked him for changing her life. She also told him that she planned to go into research and make a similar impact on others’ lives.
She chose Rose-Hulman because of its high rankings, including its No. 1 ranking as an undergraduate engineering school. The chemical engineering and chemistry majors are allowing her to participate in various research endeavors.   
“I really want to learn about the scale-up process of research,” she says. “It’s fantastic to be able to go in and do something in the lab. But to be able to scale it up and communicate it to others is exciting to me.”
Snider dove into research during her first year at Rose when she worked with Mark Brandt, PhD, on a protein characterization project studying demineralization. While she enjoyed the research aspect, Snider found her interest lies more in the organic chemistry field. Over the course of her second year, she began working with Rebecca DeVasher, PhD, on a research project characterizing a new derivative of Terephthalic acid, which the two of them created through a deglazing condensation process. Terephthalic acid is an organic compound that is used primarily as a precursor to the polyester PET, which is used to make clothing and plastic bottles (think of a Starbucks coffee cup).  
“No one has ever reported a synthetic method for this Terephthalic going through this process that we did,” Snider says. 
DeVasher and Snider will present their research at the University of Kentucky in the spring as part of a Midwest undergraduate research poster competition. They also plan to share their research at the American Chemical Society conference in Chicago this fall.
Last summer, Snider participated in a research experience for undergraduate (REU) at Purdue University. The project involved developing catalysts for shale conversion. As the U.S. makes its shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies over the next 50 years, a bridge fuel is needed to close that gap and shale fuel is an option for that gap. However, shale cannot simply be pulled out of the ground; it must be converted into usable fuel. That process is done using a rock called azurite.
“My project was optimizing the catalysts using three different types of azurites,” Snider says. “I learned a lot about characterization and inorganic synthesis.”
She presented her research, and placed eighth, at the Purdue SURF symposium. Additionally, she is working on co-authoring a manuscript about the research. Snider plans to continue her research endeavors through a REU at Stanford University this summer. Her work will involve the characterization of membrane and nanomaterials. 
She is also a Noblitt Scholar and credits the program for supporting her research endeavors. The Noblitt program will fund her two research trips this year, to University of Kentucky and the American Chemical Society conference in Chicago. She also serves as a mentor to first year Noblitt Scholars, talking with them about research and securing REU opportunities.
After graduating from Rose, Snider plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering and conduct research at the university level in the synthesis and characterization of environmentally beneficial catalysis and materials. Her goal is to contribute to environmentalism, sustainability and green chemistry. She is grateful to Rose for providing her the opportunities to conduct undergraduate research in her chosen field of chemistry.
“If you think about larger universities, you have a huge number of chemical engineering students and it’s the top of the class that gets to go to the professor and conduct research,” says Snider. “At Rose, I’ve had professors who took a chance on me as a first-year student. The professors here help you learn and grow. It’s that initial chance that gets you started, and Rose provides that.”
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