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Name: Ethan Isaac Clayton
Degree being sought: Polymer Science BS
Research group:
Storey Research Group
Area of study: Cationic Polymerization Initiators
Hometown: Wiggins, MS

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done

My area of research focuses on the synthesis of initiators for cationic polymerization.  During my time as a junior and senior in the Storey Research Group, I have worked diligently to provide the senior researchers with initiators to utilize in their research.  I have also worked to streamline the processes by which we produce the initiators; increasing yield while decreasing labor time and waste.  My future work is to study the initiation efficiency of eight different initiators in order to compare and contrast their initiation characteristics.

From your current perspective, what do you see as an ideal fit for your skills, goals and career moving forward?

Moving forward I feel a career in industry where I am tasked with problem solving would be an ideal fit for my skills and goals.  I feel as though one of my greatest strengths is to be presented with a problem and be able to analyze my way through it, ultimately to a solution.  This ideal fit could manifest as either a laboratory technician, or polymer engineer in industry.

Why did you choose USM?

Ever since I was a child and people would ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always tell them, “Either a chemist or president.” Along the way I found that I am terrible with politics, and so my dream was to be a chemist.  I chose The University of Southern Mississippi because the undergraduate Polymer Science track is unmatched in the nation.  I wanted a career in chemistry, and not only that, but a career in which there is high demand but very few applicants.  Choosing Polymer Science at USM, I feel, was the best and only choice to set myself up for success.

Who or what influenced your USM education the most?

Without a doubt, the most influential moment of my USM education was the moment that Dr. Robson Storey told me that he decided to hire me.  Having a hands-on working knowledge of synthesis has been invaluable to my education here at USM.  I have been able to make observations in the lab that have directly tied into my studies in synthesis-based classes.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

My university career is slightly atypical as an undergrad; I am 29 and have 2 children.  My goals for the next year and beyond are to have a career with which I can use my degree to provide for my family.  While the prospect of graduate school did once appeal to me, I find that the most practical choice at this point in my life is to move into a career.

What is an interesting (personal) fact about yourself?

During my 20’s I spent my time working in industry and raising my children.  I had 2 main jobs during that time, the first being in the paint department of an automotive manufacturer, and the second was producing poly(vinyl chloride) as a production operator.  Both of these jobs provided me with practical experience in polymers.  I chose Polymer Science at USM because that is what interests me and sets me up for success; it is simply an added advantage that I have production level experience in the field.

While at USM, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?

My GPA is my proudest accomplishment.  I have been able to maintain well above a 3.0, and currently hold a 3.48.  A good GPA is a challenging achievement to earn, especially in such a competitive field.

What was one of your greatest challenges attending USM?

The most challenging factor to my USM career is the workload.  USM is proud of its Polymer Science program, and strives to maintain its place among the competing schools for material science.  As such, USM ensures that the workload and courses are sufficiently demanding to produce the best graduates in the field.