Collette Gordon smiles in front of a tiled wall.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Collette Gordon

Categories: Research, Students

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

Collette Gordon is entering her second year at MIT, where she is pursuing a PhD in the Organic Chemistry track and the Program in Polymers and Soft Matter (PPSM). Originally from Eerie, Pennsylvania, Collette is now a member of Professor Tim Swager‘s research group, where she develops conductive polymers for the selective detection of biological and environmental markers. Her research further aims to improve polymeric fabrication onto lateral flow assay devices. While traditional colorimetric and fluorescence sensors exhibit low sensitivity, Collette and her collaborators synthesizes conductive polymers with extended conjugation and tunable oxidation and reduction for selective and reproducible quantitative sensing.

“Upon learning about the opportunity to pursue a PhD in Organic Chemistry from a UNCF STEM Scholars Conference during my freshman year, I was inspired to pursue my PhD as an outlet to encourage me to explore my curiosity through research, expand my knowledge of organic chemistry and materials science, and solve environmental problems,” said Collette.

As the subject of this Graduate Student Spotlight, Collette shares the best vacation she’s ever taken, the small things that improve her day, the most heartwarming thing she’s witnessed, and more!

  1. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
    I would most definitely go on longer runs and spend more time cooking and writing.
  2. If you were on a 27-hour flight and could only watch one movie, what would it be?
    The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan.
  3. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    The best vacation I’ve ever taken is to Tennessee to visit my grandparents. I enjoyed two relaxing weeks of invaluable family time, delicious Southern food, and peace of mind.
  4. If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
    If given the opportunity to open a small museum, I would create a museum dedicated to the history of Civil Rights with exhibits dedicated to Minority Women in Science. In addition to the museum exhibits, I would aspire to hold weekly outreach events for elementary school students, along with educational workshops for the public.
  5. What are some small things that make your day better?
    Daily, I enjoy morning runs, smoothies, and scenic views along the Charles River.
  6. What movie title best describes your life?
    The Spectacular Now.
  7. What is special about the place you grew up?
    I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania. The beauty behind my hometown lies within Lake Erie on the coast of Presque Isle. Today, many people enjoy walking, biking, and running along the Peninsula, going to the beach, and exploring the wildlife preserves. Erie’s signature sweets include Romolo’s chocolate meltaways and sponge candy.
  8. What chance encounter changed your life forever?
    During my freshman year at the USC Black Alumni Association Conference, I met my mentor, Susan Carr.
  9. If you could have a never-ending candle that smelled like anything you wanted, what fragrance would you want it to be?
    The fragrance of freshly baked banana bread.
  10. What food do you crave most often?
    The Perro Taco Truck in LA. I used to enjoy Perro tacos after long days of lab and class!
  11. What did you think you would grow out of but haven’t?
    Mott’s fruit snacks.
  12. What’s the funniest TV show you’ve ever seen?
    Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. My Grandmother and I would enjoy this show with plenty of good laughs.
  13. What are you most looking forward to in the next decade?
    I am looking forward to watching my younger siblings grow up and continuing to excel in my knowledge, career, and personal goals.
  14. What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?
    When my Father took good care of my Mother.
  15. What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
    On an ideal weekend, I enjoy karaoke nights with friends, going to the farmer’s market, cooking, long morning runs, picnics, and writing at the park.
  16. Who would be in the lineup for your ideal music festival?
    My favorite music festival would include SZA, Saweetie, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Rhianna, and Beyonce.
  17. Where was the most amazing sunset you have ever seen?
    The sunsets at Santa Monica Beach with views overlooking the Santa Monica Pier and the Santa Monica Mountains.
  18. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
    Oprah Winfrey.
  19. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
    A hike on the Kalalau trail in Kauai, Hawaii with my friends!
  20. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
    My Mom is my inspiration and motivation in life. Mom raised my brother and I while battling breast cancer and volunteering in our community with music classes at local schools. I strive to carry on her legacy of perseverance, strength, kindness, and compassion in life.

Many thanks to Collette for these thoughtful answers. Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights to come!