“It’s fun to get students interested in what we do, and it’s a privilege to be able to make a huge impact in someone’s life,” she said. “As a professor, you are an educator but you also lead a research program which addresses important societal and fundamental problems together with students and researchers.”
Egap said she tries to be an open book with her students as early as day one.
“As an undergrad, I remember professors often would come in class and immediately launch into the syllabus. You don’t know anything about them or what motivates them. It’s so important for me to give students some insight into what I do and why I do it because it gets them interested.”
“It’s an absolute privilege to do this job and part of that is to inspire and show students that they are the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
Egap joined Rice in 2017 as part of the university’s strategic initiative to increase research competitiveness in the field of molecular nanotechnology. Originally a philosophy major, she said her interest in materials science was first piqued as an undergraduate researcher.
“I was taking organic chemistry and had a fantastic professor,” she said. “I joined his group and learned about macromolecules and polymers, and that sparked my interest,” she said. “I became very interested in developing new synthetic tools and techniques, but was very much interested in the application as well and wondered what else I could do with the materials.”
Her work at Rice focuses on developing fundamentally new materials with novel photonic, electronic and magnetic properties, utilizing tools from polymer chemistry and materials science and nanoengineering to address challenges in energy conversion, sustainability and early diagnostics.
“At the core, we are molecular engineers interested in addressing challenges in human health and energy,” she said.
This semester Egap is teaching an elective class on polymer electronics, open to graduate and undergraduate students. She said the class looks at the field from all levels: from fundamentals to the state-of-the-art, then considers challenges in the field.
“My goal is that, at the end of the semester, students will have gained enough knowledge to be able to design research proposals to address fundamental limitations in the field,” she said.
Egap said Rice was always on her radar.
“It’s well-known as a leader in the fields of materials science and nanotechnology,” she said. “Rice truly fosters an interdisciplinary and a collaborative environment. Schools will often say this, but Rice really does live up to the expectation. It’s a tight-knit community. And Houston is an incredibly diverse city that has a lot to offer.”