Katie Pelham sits on a wooden chair with a black longhaired daschund in her lap.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Katie Pelham

Categories: Research, Students

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

Katie Pelham joined the Department of Chemistry in July 2023, and is originally from the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. A member of Professor Masha Elkin‘s lab, Katie’s research focuses on Friedel-Crafts alkylation reactions with alkenes and she is working to develop an asymmetric catalyst for unactivated reaction partners.

“I wanted to return to school to pursue a PhD in chemistry because I fell in love with the field of medicinal chemistry and want to engage in drug design at a deeper level,” said Katie. “I felt drawn to chemistry as it helps me think about and explain the world around me and I I’ve always loved understanding how things work.”

As the subject of this Graduate Student Spotlight, Katie shares the items she’d make if she were a woodworking master, the career she’d choose if she weren’t in STEM, the best vacation she’s ever taken, and more!

  1. What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
    I spent a week alone in Fiji and I still dream about it!!

  2. What’s worth spending more on to get the best?

  3. If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
    Cool bowls!! I would have the most wood bowls!

  4. What is special about the place you grew up?
    I grew up in the middle of the woods, no one else lived on my street and I didn’t have internet until college!

  5. What irrational fear do you have?
    Ghosts. I don’t necessarily think they’re real but still terrified.

  6. What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?
    Percy Jackson was my favorite childhood book, and my current is The Empire of Gold (City of Brass series, can’t recommend enough!!).

  7. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    I think I would have gone to fashion school to be a fashion buyer.

  8. What food do you crave most often?
    Indian curry! Saag paneer is my favorite.

  9. What’s the funniest TV show you’ve ever seen?
    Brooklyn 99.

  10. What are you most looking forward to in the next decade?
    Being done with school forever!!

  11. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford?
    A hot tub or a fireplace.

  12. What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?

  13. What is on your bucket list?
    I would love to live off the grid at some point.

  14. What skill would you like to master?
    I would love to master wilderness survival!

  15. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
    I would want a sunroom with plants and bookshelves, a fireplace and big kitchen with green and lots of light and outside I would want a hot tub, greenhouse, and huge flower garden.

  16. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    That time isn’t actually linear.

  17. What are your top three favorite movies?
    Everything Everywhere All at Once, Pride and Prejudice (2007 version), Lion.

  18. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again?
    Avatar the Last Airbender!

  19. What problem or situation did TV / movies make you think would be common, but when you grew up you found out it wasn’t?
    Love triangles, they seemed to happen to everyone!

  20. If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
    Is Sasquatch real yes or no?