Emilie Lozier ’18 won this year’s Nexial Prize, a $50,000 award for a graduating science major who has demonstrated both academic excellence and passion for cultural study. Created and funded by an alumnus in 2017, the prize recognizes a student who intends to make a positive impact with a range of skills and interests after graduating.
Science is more than hard facts and numbers—it’s about using cross-disciplinary analytical skills to forge innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Emilie Lozier ’18 will continue to do exactly that as she heads to Northwestern University’s PhD program in inorganic chemistry this fall. Though Lozier has yet to select a specific lab, her options include exploratory inorganic synthesis, bioinorganic chemistry aimed at elucidating the origin of life, battery materials, and mineral-fluid interfaces in groundwater systems.
“In Oberlin, I was pleased to find an intellectual community that not only accommodated my diverse interests, but also nurtured and celebrated them,” says Lozier, who double-majored in chemistry and French with a minor in geology. “My opinion as a natural scientist could carry weight in a French classroom, and my experience studying linguistic anthropology could inform the way I perceived the language use of certain scientific communities. Instead of compartmentalizing my education, Oberlin has allowed me to synthesize an academic journey seamlessly tailored to my own interests, and it is this blurring of lines that has facilitated my path to the Nexial.”
With the Nexial Prize affording her increased financial flexibility, Lozier plans to pursue what she calls a “PhD sabbatical” at some point. Her experience conducting research in Germany on a DAAD fellowship, an international funding opportunity for students and scholars, influenced her desire to approach her studies on a more international level. Consequently, she hopes to spend an extended period of time during her PhD working with overseas collaborators on a project related to her own.
“Understanding science in the context of those who create it and the communities to which they belong is important to me, and as a result I will incorporate international travel and collaboration into my PhD to the fullest extent possible,” Lozier says. “One lab that I’m interested in that already has outstanding relationships with research groups in Germany is that of Franz Geiger. If I were to join this group, my research would revolve around materials for next-generation batteries, as well as understanding the effects of discarded nanoparticles in the environment.”
Outside of the classroom, Lozier’s interests are just as broad as her academic ones. Besides participating in the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, Lozier takes secondary violin lessons in the conservatory, rock climbs, and has worked as a teaching assistant in chemistry and for Oberlin’s alternative student newspaper, The Grape.
“Whereas before I would have been under pressure to choose a project for which I knew could get funding, I will now able to direct and facilitate my research interests with more of an eye for the scientific questions that I believe to be important,” she added. “To have access to this kind of intellectual flexibility is a rare gift, and I am very grateful and humbled to be its recipient.”