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Meet Christopher Neal

Class: Chancellor’s Honors 2018
Hometown: Murfeesboro, TN
Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

IMG_2760Since the spring of 2015, I have been conducting undergraduate research in the electrochemistry field of chemical engineering. Working with Dr. Thomas Zawodzinski Jr. under the advisory of Dr. Gabriel Goenaga, I have been able to collaborate with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and numerous international companies. My learning experience thus far has been phenomenal. I have had the opportunity to learn about experiments and concepts that would not normally be taught in a classroom setting while applying classroom lessons to real-life scenarios. The most impactful part of my research experience has been working with people from across the world towards a goal that would benefit entire nations. Undergraduate research is especially important to the Honors experience because it allows the student to apply what he or she learns in the classroom to actual phenomena. Honors and Scholars at UT has given me the chance to make further connections in the chemical engineering field and has challenged me to dig deeper and think harder about certain concepts.

The best thing about my honors experience has hands down been the advising staff. They have supported me as long as I have been a student at the university and have walked me through my academic plans using their personal experience. Dr. Kristina Cantin has provided me with specific tips on how to be successful when applying to graduate schools, make connections with professors, and stay confident about my major even during the most challenging years. Honors and Scholars has helped me branch out of my own major and explore what professionals from other careers have to say about current events. Becker Seminars have taught me the history of film, the state of events in political science, and numerous other lessons I would not have been exposed to otherwise. Additionally, Honors and Scholars has convinced me to become more active on and around campus, exploring new clubs and programs of all functions and focuses.

I would encourage any student considering an honors program to give it a shot. Honors and Scholars has provided seminars and film screenings over topics I never imagined myself interested in, and I often find myself with a new hobby or interest after attending them. Intellectual curiosity is very important to me as a scholar, and it is also one of the Chancellor’s Honors core values. Knowing how to ask difficult questions and challenging myself to answer them has pushed me forward in college, beyond the classroom into undergraduate research and beyond. Next, I hope to conduct undergraduate research abroad. I would like to spend a semester in Europe doing similar research as my current project, but within an entirely different culture. As an honors student I have the support and encouragement to explore the world; elements that could lead me into the international chemical engineering field and increase my potential exponentially.