“One thing I’ve learned is you can’t be afraid if you’re the only woman in the room,” said Julia Cunniffe ’15. She’s working on her Masters’s degree and is part of the consortium for Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Education (CABLE). CABLE is a consortium of 20 colleges and universities led by OBIC, the Bioproducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University, and supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA).
“It is an incredible honor to be part of the program and offers me an amazing opportunity to network with some of the thought leaders and leading companies in the industry,” shared Julia.
After Carondelet, Julia entered UC Davis’s Biological Systems Engineering program with a strong foundation, knowing that women can be successful in STEM. “I always loved math and science and UC Davis offered one of the top programs in bio-economy and bioengineering,” she said. “The industry is changing to equalize gender representation in this field and inspire more women to follow this career path.”
“My research is working with biofuels trying to find a formula that will be available to the consumer market,” Julia explained. As part of the CABLE program, she attends webinars once a month to hear from experts in the field of bio-economy, discuss what jobs and research are available and how to support a sustainable environment. Currently, there are 14 students in the program with 4 students from NC State. “It is an incredible honor to be part of the program and offers me an amazing opportunity to network with some of the thought leaders and leading companies in the industry,” said Julia.
Her fondest memories as a Cougar are from her time in cross country and track & field. “My teammates became my closest friends as we practiced, competed, and traveled together,” she said. “All my teachers encouraged me to pursue my strengths in math and the sciences. One standout teacher was Mr. Schroeder. He encouraged me to believe in my academic strengths in science and continue on this career path,” said Julia.
Looking ahead, she hopes to have her Ph.D. and be a research leader for the USDA or a company focused on bioprocessing and value-added products to make the world a more sustainable place.
Her advice to students and alumnae is, “Don’t give up even when things get hard. There were days when I wanted to change my major because the classes were so hard but I didn’t give up and it was worth every stressful minute to be where I am today!”