Recent grad Grace Johnson seeks to create a better world through chemistry

Class of 2017 biochemistry graduate Grace Johnson recently began a rigorous five-year Ph.D. program in theoretical chemistry at Stanford University. The Salt Lake City, UT native says LMU equipped her with the best possible gift: a wealth of research experience.

“LMU offers an all encompassing education,” Grace said. “The independent research I got to take part in would have been almost impossible at a larger institution and that experience has really helped me realize my potential and goals.”

Under the guidance of her biochemistry professor, Dr. Emily Jarvis, Grace did a computational study on surface oxygen depletion on titanium dioxide nano powders, examining their surface reactivity. 

“We discovered we were sort of modeling our structure on the nano powders and that they were creating stable nano powders,” Grace said. “It resulted in a more metallic surface.”

Her efforts earned much praise, including an Undergraduate Research Award at last spring’s American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco.

“My goal is to learn as much about physics and math as possible in order to work toward developing more methods of environmental sustainability and sources of renewable energy technology,” Grace said.

She added that she wants to fight for equal representation in the sciences, as the field is still predominantly male and white.

Drawn to LMU for its smaller size, faculty-student mentorships and Jesuit ideals, Grace was a member of the Honors program and the Sursum Corda service organization, as well as an applied mathematics minor. Additionally, she is the recipient of LMU’s Program Scholar Award for Biochemistry and a Presidential Citation.

Looking to the future, Grace plans to power through the next five years of graduate school and then either pursue a role in academics or the renewable energy technology industry.

As for what advice Grace has for new and incoming Lions?

“Study the things that you love to study,” she said. “And it’s okay not to have a complete and total plan yet.”

To read more about the exciting outcomes and accomplishments of our current students and alumni, visit our Student Profiles Gateway.