Emma Palmacci, BS

Hometown: Walpole, MA

Degree earned at WPI: BS, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Degrees earned from other institutions: PhD, MIT

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I knew I wanted to go into chemistry when I was in high school. My AP chemistry teacher encouraged me to look at WPI–-the school had a great reputation and a strong core of science and engineering. I ultimately chose WPI because it had a well-balanced campus life, in addition to strong academics. I played volleyball with WPI’s Division III NCAA team all four years, and was able to have success both in and out of the classroom.

How did your experiences at WPI prepare you for graduate school?

I went to MIT after graduating from WPI, where I earned my PhD in organic chemistry in 2003. Having hands-on laboratory experience not only helped me get into MIT but also put me in a great position to succeed in my research. Not many of my classmates had the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to a research project like I did with my MQP.

Present job title and employer: Vice president, Research and Advisory Services, Nerac, Tolland, CT

How did your experiences at WPI prepare you for working in your field?
We are a small advisory firm and help our clients by supporting R&D programs from the innovation process to patent protection and market forecasts. My education at WPI exposed me to many of the high-tech advancements we see and advise on each day, and prepared me for the multitude of group-based projects necessary for the consulting world.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, prepared you for facing real-world challenges in the workplace or graduate school?
The WPI experience prepares you for the real-world application of science–not just learning about it in books and lectures. The hands-on project classes, in addition to the opportunity to work on a research project, are fundamental to becoming a research scientist at a high-level. I would have not excelled at MIT and in my career if not for the exposure to the critical and creative thinking that is a required part of WPI’s method.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participated in at WPI:
I played volleyball all four years and was team cocaptain for two years.

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Salisbury Prize (WPI), 1998
  • Wyeth-Ayerst Scholar (MIT), 2002
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