Elizabeth Recker

Elizabeth Recker

Elizabeth Recker majors in bioengineering with minors in biology and chemistry. Elizabeth is working on a study that develops technologies to fight climate change. Elizabeth also is a member of the registered student organization, Project Narrative. Elizabeth is a recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Elizabeth is an FGCU grad, class of '22, and will pursue a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at UT Austin.

Elizabeth is a recipient of the following awards:

Barry Goldwater (2020-2021)

Millennium Fellowship, Carbon Dioxide Capture; climate action (2021-2022)

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, *honorable mention (2021-2022)

Elizabeth Recker in lab

How did your mentor(s) encourage and foster your research and academic trajectory?

My sophomore year at FGCU I took Organic Chemistry II with Professor Mirjafari. One day I was visiting his office hours to ask for assistance with a problem and he took the opportunity to talk with me. He asked me what I wanted to do after graduation and what I was interested in. He then offered me a position working in his lab and I quickly jumped at the chance to do research. I have been working with him ever since and ended up falling in love with research. I originally was planning on completing my bachelor's degree in bioengineering, and then going to work in industry, however, this experience changed my plans. I am now pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at UT Austin this fall continuing research in impactful areas. My life would look very different today if I had never met my mentor, Dr. Mirjafari. I am so thankful for his endless support and faith in me. 

Dr. Mirjafari has always truly listened to my ideas and encourages me to think outside the box. To me, research is about innovation and trying something new and that is exactly what is fostered in the Mirjafari lab environment. I have developed a passion for research during my time here at FGCU and it is not because I can follow an experimental procedure, but precisely because there is no experimental procedure laid out for me to follow. I am consistently challenged to attempt to synthesize novel products and problem solve when I am faced with new obstacles. As my mentor and Principal Investigator, he is there as a resource for me when I run into a wall, but encourages me to figure it out on my own first. I am always excited to try something new and that is exactly what I get to do in the research lab. I am very thankful to have a mentor who respects my opinions and fully supports my ideas.

Elizabeth Recker with mentors Dr. Mirjafari and Dr. Rafferty-Osaki

What does the OCF mean to you?

Over the past few years, I have learned that there are people who will tell you to be more “realistic” when planning for your future. Through working with the OCF and specifically Dr. Terumi Rafferty-Osaki, I now dare to dream big. The OCF has given me unwavering support, a community of like-minded individuals, and most importantly, confidence in myself. More than that, the OCF has also worked with me to select and take opportunities that will help me to reach my goals and put me on a path to success. Being a part of the OCF family has significantly enriched my time here at FGCU. 

The environment that Dr. Terumi Rafferty-Osaki has created within this office is so special. I learned more about myself by going through the application process than anything else I have ever done in my life. Being a part of this community has made my experience at FGCU exponentially better and connected me with lifelong friends.

What is the Goldwater Scholarship?

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship acknowledges exceptional students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Honoring the work of Senator Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarship seeks to reward intellectually curious students with a commitment to a research career.

Elizabeth Recker and mentor