Physical Scientist, NASA in Stennis, MS
Treva Brown was born and raised in North Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She received her diploma from Baton Rouge Magnet High School. She dreamed of attending Louisiana State University and her physics teacher provided her with advice and information. Treva recalls, “Ms Cao told me about STEM programs at LSU and I began considering them and came across the LA-STEM [Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] Scholars Program, for which I applied, and met Dr Isiah Warner. It was through listening to his story, and some research through the LSU Chemistry website, that I decided to choose Chemistry as my major and have loved it ever since.”
Treva became a LSU tiger in the Department of Chemistry at LSU and took charge of her undergraduate experience. Her journey as an undergraduate was a very fruitful experience. She began research in Professor Jayne Garno’s group. She gained intensive experience in atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning probe lithography to study organic thin films of n-alkanethiols. She analyzed and performed surface chemistry studies of organosilanes via particle lithography and chemical vapor deposition. Treva presented her research and won presentation awards at many conferences across the nation including ACS, SERMACS, NOBCChE, and Triple EX. As a senior, Treva served as a TA for General Chemistry Laboratory, which was good experience in preparation for graduate school. Eager to share her passion for STEM, Treva became a counselor in a summer program hosted by the Office of Strategic Initiatives. She served as a role model for the incoming LSU freshmen, entering the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program, helping them to transition into college life. She emphasized the principles of leadership, scholarship and success through expressing the importance of excellence in mentoring, education, research, and outreach. As she reminisced about her time in the Department, Treva says, “I appreciated the outpouring of encouragement and support from programs such as LA-STEM Research Scholars, LS-LAMP (Louis Stokes Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation), IMSD (Initiative for Maximizing Student Development), and HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) Professors Program. Without the continued encouragement and support from the professors and staff that worked with these programs, I probably would not be where I am today in the scientific world.”
Treva graduated with her BS in Chemistry from LSU in December 2011 and decided to continue her education as a doctoral student at the University of New Orleans, where she has held a prestigious Louisiana Board of Regents Graduate Fellowship. In terms of her daily activities as a senior graduate student she elaborates, “My area of study is in inorganic nanomaterials, with an emphasis on nanomechanical investigations and characterizations using atomic force and transmission electron microscopy (AFM and TEM). On a daily basis, I am currently writing! However, when I take a break from writing, I work on my STEM outreach initiatives, microscopy characterization, microwave, solvothermal, and bench chemistry syntheses, and offer advice/guidance to my fellow colleagues on various issues that may occur on the scientific forefront.”
During her second year of graduate school, Treva struggled with self-doubt and had to dig deep for motivation from within herself and the people around her. She says of her efforts to remain on track, “My second year into my PhD I found myself wanting to give up and settle with a master’s degree in chemistry. A post-doc in the group at the time, who heard word of this, sat me down and told me point blank, ‘You are more than capable of graduating with a PhD in chemistry, especially with your specialized skill sets (referencing my AFM knowledge).’ She encouraged me to think outside the box and figure out a way to bridge my love for microscopy with the ongoing research of the group in inorganic nanomaterials. It was from this day until now, with the help of my undergraduate research professor, Dr Jayne C. Garno, that my research has blossomed into what it has become today, and I am set to graduate in December of 2017.” In January 2018, Treva began working as a Physical Scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
Treva was asked if there was anything she would do differently if she had her time again. She replied, “If I could have a ‘do-over,’ I would certainly re-do my first 2 years of graduate school where I took my time at UNO for granted. I did not think outside the box, I did not seek help and/or mentoring as I used to during my time at LSU, and I gave up too quickly on several projects of which I am currently noticing prove to be great ideas. I would also re-visit my communication skills as I have come to learn has played an important role in my accomplishments to date.”
Treva leaves the following thoughts for prospective and current science majors, “My advice to current undergraduate students in the Chemistry Department at LSU is to utilize EVERY tool and opportunity presented to you and do not take them for granted. You never know the doors that may open for you, simply due to your affiliation, interests, and/or scientific contributions at any level. And mostly, aim for the stars! You NEVER know where you’re destined to be past your undergraduate career.”