Graduate Student Profile

Students from the top engineering programs around the world seek out Penn's Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Graduate Program for both its excellence and its broad opportunities.  Ph.D. students draw on Penn's multifaceted research environment which may include cross-disciplinary collaboration with research groups across the University, including the Medical School, Materials Science, Physics, Bioengineering, Chemistry, and many more.  The full resources of this Ivy League University together with the cultural and athletic opportunities of the City of Philadelphia make Penn CBE a prime choice to pursue a chemical and biomolecular engineering advanced degree.

Caroline Cameron
Annapolis, MD
B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology
Ph.D. Candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
Kathleen Stebe Research Group

Caroline Cameron has the special distinction of being the only female in this year’s entering class of CBE PhD candidates. When asked what it feels like to be the only female in the class, her response was  “Unexpected!” To understand her response, one should take the time to learn a little about Caroline’s story.

Caroline grew up in Annapolis, MD where her father was an electrical engineer and professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. Quite naturally, she displayed an interest in electrical engineering, and was designing circuits and soldering at a very early age. In high school, Caroline enrolled in a rigorous science and math curriculum.  She excelled in AP Chemistry, which was taught by a female professor who, as it turned out, served as her initial inspiration to become a chemical engineer.  In addition, Caroline attended an all-girls technology camp for three years, eventually becoming a counselor and receiving an internship for SEAP (Science Engineering Apprenticeship Program) through the Navy. While at camp, she was exposed to, and instructed by, all female scientists.  After high school, she continued her undergraduate education at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where she matriculated with a 50% male and 50% female student body.  At RIT, Caroline was a significant member of the Women in Engineering Society, or, WE-RIT, which is dedicated to expanding the representation of women engineers. 

After receiving her B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Caroline had a number of institutions from which to choose, but was sold on Penn, not only because of the University’s stellar reputation, but because of the enthusiasm and energy Dr. Kate Stebe exuded for chemical engineering.

In Caroline’s eyes, the gender gap was definitely closed, which was why being the only female in the incoming CBE class was so unexpected. Caroline says she is undaunted by the fact that she is the sole female in her incoming class, and has not experienced any downside to being the only woman. She has noticed, however, that she sometimes spends days at a time not interacting with women, but does not see that as a problem.  In fact, her message to young women interested in pursuing a career in Chemical Engineering, or any other male-dominated profession, is to remain passionate about what you are doing and “Go for it!”

Caroline sees herself as a problem solver and plans to pursue a career in industry, focusing on environmental change, specifically waste clean-up.  She also plans to work toward closing the gender gap in engineering.