Chatham University

Women’s Leadership

Trish Hredzak ’07 is at home both in space and under water

From outer space to the depths of the ocean, Patricia Lynn "Trish" Hredzak ’07 has had a whirlwind life. After graduating from Quaker Valley High School in Leetsdale, Pa., Trish moved to New Jersey for the big university life experience. To her dismay, after two years she had still not found any professors who were willing to sponsor her in the labs. She started considering transferring and was “inspired by the number of famous women whom had attended women’s colleges.” When her father became ill she decided to stay close to home and enroll at Chatham University, “I couldn't have possibly found a more supportive environment during not only what was the most difficult time of my life, but at a time when engaging in research was critical for my growth into a scientist, and to acquire the skills necessary to gain acceptance into a graduate program.”

She credits the support of Chatham faculty, most notably her advisor Dr. Joseph MacNeil with being able to pursue a curriculum at Chatham that tailored to her interests and needs for graduate school. With Chatham’s help she obtained geochemistry work at the University of Pittsburgh and an internship at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Most of her time at Chatham was spent in the labs but she did find time to join organizations such as the Chemistry Society and the Math Club. She also attended Chatham events such as her favorite holiday dance, traveled abroad to Russia and made a space-themed tutorial hat. “I'm so grateful to have obtained a well-rounded perspective from the professors and the curriculum. By the time I had graduated I had acquired a broad array of very valuable skills, both inside and outside the lab.”

Trish went on to graduate school at Tufts University to obtain a master’s degree in electroanalytical chemistry, and was involved in the 2008 NASA Mars Phoenix Lander. She was part of making ground breaking history when the Mars Phoenix Lander confirmed the presence of water on Mars. Trish and her group were the first group ever to take the pH measurement of the Mars water. She acknowledges Tufts as being an amazing experience but is glad to be moving on to pursue her Ph.D. in oceanography at the University of Delaware.

Trish will be plunging into her work at the University of Delaware and is excited about getting to do hands on field work, saying it was one of the things she missed out on at Tufts. Her two loves are space and the ocean and since field work in space is limited she opted to take to the waters.

In the wake of the recent BP tragedy, in the Gulf, Trish sees an opportunity. “It is going to require many scientists trained in this profession in the future- specifically those with a chemistry background, who can really understand the biochemical and geochemical effects.”

Related Links

Joseph MacNeil, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry
NASA Mars Phoenix Lander
Tufts University Arts, Sciences & Engineering
University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment


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