Dr. Simona Murph with students

Answers Along the Way: Simona Murph

Growing up in Romania, Dr. Simona Murph (EdS ’12) learned about the chemistry of cooking from her mother and ran with that knowledge toward a career in the sciences, first as a science teacher in Romania and now, after earning a doctorate in nanotechnology from the University of South Carolina and an educational specialist degree from Augusta University, as principal scientist at Savannah River National Lab, where her lab designs and creates nanomaterials that can be used in many fields and applications.

Along the way, she’s chalked up several honors, including being named an Inspirational Woman in STEM by the U.S. Department of Energy and the 2016 Distinguished Alumna and Presidential Alumna for the College of Education. “With an educational specialist degree from Augusta University, I knew that I would have the knowledge and skills to perform at the highest levels in any aspect of educational leadership in any region of my choosing,” she says.

WE CANNOT ALL BE NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS, and we cannot all go to Harvard. But we all have a place in this world, and we can all be successful. If you have an education in America, you can find your path.

NANOTECHNOLOGY IS THE MOST EXCITING FIELD OF SCIENCE IN THE 21ST CENTURY, and historians will one day look at the discovery of nanoparticles in the same manner as we look at the discovery of antibiotics.

WHEN I WAS 16 OR 17, I watched a movie, Fantastic Voyage. It was a science fiction movie, and now it’s not science fiction. I’m doing it. We are there.

WHEN I WENT TO COLLEGE, one of the professors said that he published a book. That stuck with me forever – I met a scientist who’s got a book! And then somebody invited me to write a book, and it’s like, wow – somewhere along with way, I did something right.

TALK WITH PEOPLE. Keep in touch. Establish your network. You need to have a solid resume, but who you know and what you know is important, especially in today’s world.

IN JUST A FEW SHORT YEARS, we will have infinitely faster computers, self-cleaning clothes, stronger materials for building and construction, medicine and drug delivery that can be tracked live inside the body and many other applications that haven’t even been thought of yet. The possibilities are endless.

I TRY TO TELL THE STUDENTS, LOOK AT ME. English is my second language.
I was never the prettiest, never the smartest one, but look at me and where I am today compared to where I was 20 years ago, and you have no excuse.

I HAD A CAREER AS A SCIENCE TEACHER, and I thought I had it all figured out, that I knew everything. Then I went back to school to get my educational leadership degree, and I realized I knew nothing. The more you learn, the more you realize you know nothing.

Learn more about Dr. Murph. See Doing Something Right. 

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