Dr Matthew McKenzie (LSU PhD, 2009)
HPC Technical Lead, Corning Inc.
Dr. Matthew McKenzie was born and raised in Naples, FL and moved to Tampa, FL where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of South Florida. Matthew’s decision to attend graduate school was motivated by his participation in an undergraduate research program where he studied the effects of toxin absorption in waterway plants. As a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at LSU, he worked with Professor Bin Chen and collaborated closely with Professor Garno and Professor Waldrop. During his graduate career, Matthew received the Excellence in Teaching Physical Chemistry Award, an NSF IGERT Fellowship, and became a Procter & Gamble Scholar. When asked what he appreciated most about his time at LSU, Matthew answered, “I truly appreciated the work balance: ruminating on scientific research juxtaposed to some very challenging classes. To be fully committed in both of these areas broadened and deepened my professional development. Another memorable time was TA-ing for Dr Rupnik in physical chemistry - he allowed me to teach and create my own lecture series on computational chemistry.”
After graduating with his doctorate in 2009, and prior to joining the chemical industry, Matthew had something of a revelation: “I realized what truly makes me happy, being at the intersection of science, programming and computer hardware. Before my current role at Corning, I was only focused in one of those directions at a time, and I realized a balance of all three was what I enjoyed.”
Once identifying what his direction should be, Matthew became very determined to bring all of those puzzle pieces together. He is currently a Researcher and HPC (High Performance Computing) Technical Lead at Corning Incorporated in Corning, New York. He is a team member on a few research projects. Topics that he has worked on have ranged from computational fluid dynamics, to life science, polymer chemistry, and surface science. Matthew uses programming to conduct theoretical chemistry research, which led him to the HPC field. As the HPC Technical Lead, he advises, teaches, and enables all fields of computational science at Corning to reach their full potential.
Like most people, Matthew wishes he would have done a few things differently in his career to date. If given the chance to do things differently, Matthew’s advice would be: “Publish more - journal papers sure, but make a blog, website, add to FAQS, or submit short papers to various small journals/magazines as well. With the amount of current internet use today, I think I would’ve enjoyed building an online presence when I had more time to dedicate to publishing.”
To the current graduate students, Matthew shared another gem with us:
“Take a course (audit one or some free online one) in Project Management. In industry, I work on projects which have clear deliverables. How do you divide your time? Is it achievable? You have to measure your progress- which means you need a plan. What does the end result look like? (If it’s a paper, can you write an outline before research?) These skills will help you now and in the future.”