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Graduate Student Spotlight: Cassandra Zentner

Categories: Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Cassandra Zentner describes her research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Cassandra Zentner grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent a few years in the Netherlands and Ireland before making her way to Massachusetts. A fourth year graduate student in Professor Tim Swager‘s group, Cassie has lived in Boston for nearly seven years.  Her research is focused on the formation and manipulation of complex emulsion systems. The Swager group has done extensive work on studying the optical properties and sensing applications of these systems to imagine the next generation of pathogen sensing products and electronic screens. Cassie more specifically works on utilizing interfacial reactions (at the emulsion interfaces) to generate and control the emulsions.

As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Cassie shares the movies she can watch on repeat, the “weird” food combination she enjoys, the most ridiculous animal she can think of, and more!

  1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
    Prior to graduate school I worked at a startup launched from Professor Tim Swager’s lab, C2Sense, where I worked on developing carbon nanotube based sensors. When starting in the Swager group, I wanted to try something new, something very different to continue to expand my skills.
  2. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    Read and review books. With all the money and time, I could build out a library, and actually ready all the books on my to-be-read list, which somehow never actually gets smaller.
  3. What fictional place would you most like to go?
    Hogwarts. No matter how much I thought about this question, all the worlds I’ve read, it always came back to Hogwarts.
  4. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again?
    Pride and Prejudice (mini-series)
  5. What weird food combinations do you really enjoy?
    Growing up, we would make sandwiches with just white bread, butter, and sprinkles (hagelslag). I didn’t realize that was weird until we moved back to the US from the Netherlands.
  6. What are some red flags to watch out for in daily life?
  7. What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
    Almost any Jane Austin adaptation.
  8. In the past people were buried with the items they would need in the afterlife, what would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?
    A perpetually charged Kindle with my entire library of books and to-be-read list.
  9. What TV show character would it be the most fun to change places with for a week?
    Someone from Downton Abbey to see what aristocratic life is like.
  10. What would be the best thing you could reasonably expect to find in a cave?
  11. If you could know the truth behind every conspiracy, but you would instantly die if you hinted that you knew the truth, would you want to know?
    No way. I am a terrible liar and people would be able to read my face instantly and know I was hiding something. I would be dead within a day.
  12. What’s the most ridiculous animal on the planet?
  13. What’s the best thing about the place you grew up?
    The sports and the community it created. It’s very hard to grow up in the Pittsburgh area and not be pulled into the sports community.
  14. What inconsequential super power would you like to have?
    Be able to open anything I wanted. I wouldn’t ever have an issue with a reagent bottle nor would I have to remember where my keys are because I could just open any door.
  15. If you wanted to slowly drive a roommate insane using only notes, what kind of notes would you leave around the house?
    Notes that just say “You missed a spot.”
  16. What’s incredibly cheap and you would pay way more for?
  17. What fictional characters have you had a crush on over the years?
    Instead of crushes, growing up I more idealized friendships, wanting those in my own life. Like Harry/Ron/Hermione – I wanted that close friendship to manifest in my life.
  18. What would be the hat to end all hats? What could you wear on your head that would make people stop what they are doing and stare in awe and amazement?
    An artist I saw drew a person with a mini-whiskey barrel for a hat, a reimagining of the beer helmet.
  19. What did you believe for way too long as a child?
    If I stepped into the woods around my house I would encounter wolves (there are no wolves in my area).
  20. What two things are terrible when separate but great when you put them together?
    Tea leaves and hot water.

Many thanks to Cassie for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!