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Tracy l. Lohr

Research scientist, Shell

 

And - PhD

The thought that something I dreamt up on paper may work on a large scale in the world is incredibly exciting to me. 

What do you do?

In the Chemical Catalysts Technologies group at Shell, I research and develop catalysts for selective oxidation processes that convert feedstocks such as ethylene and methane to more valuable and useful products.

Why did you choose this field?

"I particularly love catalysis because many of the commercial products we use world-wide would not be possible without them." 

In high school I was always drawn to the sciences. I originally planned to go into biology – I loved learning about nature. However, I quickly changed my mind once I was in university level chemistry courses. I really enjoyed taking the knowledge and principles that I learned in class and applying them to solving problems. I was drawn to inorganic/catalysis research, where I was able to see a real-world use of the science I was doing in the lab. I also had some fantastic mentors in my undergraduate that recognized my love of problem solving and generating new ideas for doing things that really encouraged me towards graduate school. As I am a first generation college student, this encouragement went a long way to helping me realize that I could be successful as a scientist. I love problem solving and figuring out how things work so I can design better performing catalysts. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I took an interesting path to my current position. Before I was at Shell, I was a Research Professor at Northwestern University. I never would have believed that I would be successful supervising graduate students and post-docs and running a sizeable research group. It has given me a lot of confidence in my current position, knowing that I can lead scientific teams.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I enjoy coming up with new ideas for processes and reactions. I enjoy inventing. The thought that something I dreamt up on paper may work on a large scale in the world is incredibly exciting to me.

Best advice for the next generation

Believe in yourself. You have every right to be here as well as anyone else. Finding good mentors and sponsors will help you along the way. Do not be afraid to take chances, go outside of your comfort zone and explore a part of science you are not familiar with! I consider my varied background a strength for what I am doing now.

Fun fact

In my youth I used to sing opera and I rocked bright blue hair.