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Graduate Student Spotlight: Thaddeus Paulsel ’24

paulsel_thaddeus headshot
Thaddeus Paulsel
Chemistry Graduate Student

Why did you choose Chemistry?

I was drawn to the elegance with which chemistry explains our universe. All our surroundings, inner workings, medicines, materials – all of it – come back to basic chemistry principles, and we get the privilege of unraveling them in giant puzzles that allow us to contribute to issues facing us and our planet.

What are you involved in outside of Chemistry?

I have served on the Vice-Provost’s University Diversity Action Committee (UDAC) and the executive board of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and I enjoy participating in on-campus leadership and industry workshops to prepare myself for work after my Ph.D. When I’m not in the lab I enjoy taking my dog for walks, reading about ancient and medieval history, and tinkering with new DIY projects.

How has your graduate career prepared you for your future career?

I want to be an innovator – really pushing science forward to help solve problems facing human health. Working toward my Ph.D. has helped me by giving me the freedom to identify problems I want to solve, asking questions about how to solve them, and then getting creative as to how I answer those questions with experimental data. It’s really allowed me to grow my skills as a competent scientist (though it may not always feel like it) and take ownership of my career.

What advice would you give to new graduate students?

Take ownership of your degree and what you get out of it. Don’t wait for projects to be assigned to you; create them! Don’t wait for responsibilities to be given to you; take them! Anything that you can do to set yourself apart can only help you. Sure it can be challenging to put yourself out there, but it will only lead to growth and connections.

Fill in the blank:

My favorite place on campus is My Research Lab!

And I genuinely mean that. The lab is my place to be creative in asking new questions and coming up with new ways to solve them. It’s such a good feeling to have a new reaction work or have a new enzyme do something cool.

I’m most excited to attend Packapalooza “after” COVID-19.

I really enjoyed walking up and down Hillsborough and getting bags of freebies during my first year here. The event has been canceled ever since but is returning this Fall and I’m super excited.

In my lifetime scientists will discover …

A lot! I think that’s one of the great parts about being a scientist in the 21st century – we’re learning so much, so fast, and I don’t think there’s a limit to what we can discover if we just work for it. As long as there are passionate people interested in asking new questions, we can construct better antibiotics to combat the rise of antibiotic resistance, we can pull CO2 out of the air to tackle global warming, and we can answer questions about how early life came to be.

In one word, my experience at NC State has been enabling!

There are so many opportunities to prepare for the future. It seems every time I check my email, there’s a new workshop, a new lecture series, a new networking event to attend, and so much more. It’s really encouraging that there are so many ways to broaden my horizons and invest in my future