You don’t have to conduct much research to learn that Eleanor Brightbill loves science. She always has.
Shortly after she arrived in Chapel Hill, Eleanor jumped at the opportunity to get involved in undergraduate research. She began working at a neuroscience lab with Professor Donita Robinson, using rats to study how alcohol affects the brain.
A Taylor Fellowship enabled Eleanor to expand her research activities the summer following her sophomore year. She worked full-time as a research assistant at a NC State lab that was collaborating with Professor Robinson. Together, they studied the dopamine system in hopes of better understanding issues such as addiction and depression.
The experience provided Eleanor with significant research responsibilities and opened her eyes to the importance of collaboration between professors and universities. It also reinforced what she always suspected: she wanted to spend her career focused on analytical research.
“At the time, I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to major in,” Eleanor says. “It solidified for me that I wanted to focus on chemistry.”
At the end of her Taylor Fellowship, Eleanor remained actively involved in undergraduate research. She has spent the past year working in Professor Scott Warren’s lab focused on discovering new 2D materials from naturally occurring minerals and is currently completing a senior honors thesis.
When the senior from Sanford, NC graduates in May, she will enter graduate school and begin her pursuit of a PhD in materials chemistry.
“Get involved in research early on,” she says. “It helped me figure out what I wanted to do and what other opportunities I wanted to check out.”
Eleanor says the breadth of experiences that UNC afforded her were pivotal in helping her figure out what she wanted to do. “College is a great time to explore. Do whatever you find interesting, even if you don’t know where it might lead.”