Megan Bullard not only yearns to find answers, but looks to mold young minds to seek them as well. Bullard is a chemistry major with the intent to go into chemistry education once she finishes her bachelor’s degree. Growing up in Western New York meant that SUNY Brockport, State University of New York, had always been an option for her. By her sophomore year in high school, she had already made her decision.
“I chose Brockport when I was a sophomore because Brockport had everything that I desired in a college,” Megan said. “It has a great chemistry department, the teaching program is well-known for its success, and it is only a 30-minute drive from my parents’ house. It was perfect!”
With her eyes set on her goal of becoming a middle school chemistry teacher, Megan jumped at any chance to gain experience. She has become a chemistry tutor for multiple students, a laboratory teaching assistant, joined the Chemistry Club, and became a member of the Honors College, all within her first two years. Now, Megan finds herself in Argonne, Illinois, conducting research for her internship at Argonne National Laboratory.
At Argonne, Megan is working under Brockport alumna Dr. Megan Bennet ’05, researching the production of the medical isotope Scandium-47 through the irradiation of titanium. But, this is only where her research begins. From there, Megan focuses on the recycling of the titanium left behind, aiming to turn it into the useful mineral, titanium dioxide. Known for being the most highly used white pigment in the world, titanium dioxide is coveted for its high refractive index, only surpassed by a few other materials. For this reason, it’s crucial for the production of sun screen, cosmetics, and even paint. Although her research is important to her, Megan’s most influential aspect from her experience at Argonne involves the people she has met during her time there.
“The friendships and connections I’ve made with the people I work with are definitely the biggest takeaway from this whole experience,” Megan said. “I absolutely love coming to work knowing that I will get to see my coworkers every day.”
While Megan’s dream of becoming a chemistry teacher may not align with research, she aims to gain as much out of the experience as she possibly can. She plans to use this experience as a tool; helping guide future students down the path she believes best suits them. While research may not have been her calling, many of her future students will find it to be theirs. Most important of all, Megan has confirmed that her heart lies in the art of teaching.
“The experience that I had will help me explain what researching is like and how it works to my future students,” said Bullard.