Dr. Britney Hebert
R&D Chemist at Oxiteno USA, LLC in Hattiesburg, MS
Dr Britney Hebert grew up in Houma, Louisiana and completed her Bachelors in Chemistry at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. After graduation, she decided that she would continue her journey at Louisiana State University as a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. She joined the macromolecular division and completed her studies under the direction of Dr David Spivak. As a student in his group, Britney synthesized stationary phase materials, their packing into chromatography columns and their use for HPLC analysis. She developed an improved protocol for the fabrication of the hydrogel stamp and made imprinted acrylamide hydrogels for detecting short DNA sequences. During her time at LSU, Britney received a Graduate Assistantship in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship for 2013-15 and she also won a Charles E. Coates Travel Award in 2015 that enabled her to attend an ACS National Meeting. Britney successfully defended her dissertation titled, “Molecularly Imprinted Polymers for Enantiomer Separations and Biomolecular Sensors,” and graduated in August of 2016. When asked to reflect on her times as a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at LSU, Britney stated, “I appreciated the community that we had in the department. Even more so in the macro division. I felt like I had so many resources and most importantly friends that I could count on. Their support along the way made a world of difference, even if it was just afternoon coffee trips to Starbucks. “
Britney talked about a few turning points along her journey as a graduate student. She mentioned that the last two years of her graduate school career felt much different. “When it was time for my data defense, I really had to look at my progress and gauge what I had left to do. I learned a lot at that time on how to manage/utilize my time and really understanding the chemistry to work faster (which was especially crucial when I had to teach organic again after a two-year break).”
Britney is currently a R&D chemist at Oxiteno USA, LLC, in Hattiesburg, MS. This is the first R&D lab in the US for Oxiteno (a Brazilian company) so she has been doing a variety of things in her position. Britney’s role is primarily analytical, although she plans to help with process and synthesis when the lab becomes more established.
When asked about the process in determining her next step after graduate school, Britney answered, “I started looking for a job about eight months prior to graduating. What I learned is that companies want experience. We had an LSU alum talk at our macro seminar, I added him on LinkedIn. He wasn’t able to offer me a job at his company (Lion Elastomers) but after a few months of no luck in my job hunt I asked him about an internship opportunity after graduation. After seven months of experience at Lion, the internship opened up a lot of opportunities and I was able to transition into a full-time position at Oxiteno.”
If there was anything that Britney would revisit to help her along her journey through graduate school, she replied, “In undergrad I wasn’t focused on learning the material, really grasping what was being taught. I wish I would have, I didn’t plan on going to graduate school so my end game was very short sighted. A lot of graduate school felt like catching up and I struggled along the way because of that.”
Britney left these precious jewels to the graduate students trying to find their next path, “Be open to internships. Networking after not receiving a fulltime position at the company of interest can still lead to amazing opportunities. It’s good to have a buffer with an internship, it’s less pressure and it can open doors into industry.