When Hope Lee, SB’20, came to the University of Chicago in October 2017, the undergraduate molecular engineering program was still relatively new. Working with Prof. David Awschalom and his lab group for almost three years, Lee conducted research on photon crystals, with an emphasis on color centers, controlling color centers, and using them for communication, such as information processing.
Being an undergraduate student in the program’s early years afforded Lee opportunities in addition to her involvement in groundbreaking research.
“There was a lot of excitement in working together and trying to figure out what we wanted for the undergraduate class,” she explained.
Lee and fellow students provided feedback to program administrators and lecturers, engaging in back-and-forth conversations about how to create a state-of-the-art, unique engineering program for undergraduates.
In addition to fostering this exciting dialogue between students and faculty, UChicago also encouraged discourse across departments. Although she was a molecular engineering and physics double major, Lee took humanities and social sciences courses, too.
“The school encourages you to really appreciate works of literature or treatises in political sciences,” Lee said. “I think having those conversations brought into the science realm, to spaces like the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), was very unique to UChicago. I really enjoyed it.”
After graduating in June 2020, Lee enrolled as a PhD student in the Applied Physics Department at Stanford University, where she currently works under Professor Jelena Vuckovic in her Nanoscale and Quantum Photonics Lab. While the emphasis of Lee’s research has shifted—in her current research there’s more emphasis on photonics itself rather than applied photonics—the skills she learned at Pritzker Molecular Engineering remain pertinent.
“I think the interdisciplinary nature of research and all the classes and conversations you hear around PME has definitely helped a lot with my current research,” she said. “It feels like you have a broader survey of a wide number of fields just from being involved in the PME.”
Reflecting on PME as it prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary, Lee said with confidence, “PME truly is a very special place.”