Goswami mixes fuels cells and figure skating
Figure skating and fuel cells might seem an odd combination to some, but they’re a good mix for Princeton chemical engineering major Sharon Goswami.
In her sophomore year, Goswami received a Reiner G. Stoll Undergraduate Fellowship to support independent summer research on fuel cells in the lab of chemical engineering professor Jay Benziger.
Goswami worked on polymer electron membrane fuel cells, which produce electricity when hydrogen ions are passed across a water-soaked membrane, and may one day power climate-friendly cars. Her research, which described the behavior of water droplets on a particular type of membrane, was published in the Aug. 18, 2008 issue of the journal Langmuir.
“Seeing the process of the paper getting written, as well as encountering Professor Benziger's ideas about different wetting phenomena, showed me a part of chemical engineering that is not addressed in most classes,” she said. “It also affected my actions as an officer of the fledgling Princeton Materials Research Society, since my research enabled me to attend the national Materials Research Society conference as a presenter and see firsthand one of the major forums where scholarly work is shared among researchers.” As co-president of the Princeton chapter, Goswami has worked to share this experience with undergraduates by organizing research talks and discussion sessions.
While her rigorous academic career (she is earning certificates in engineering biology and materials science) keeps her busy, Goswami is careful to make time for figure skating. She started skating at age six in her hometown of Fairfax, Va., and has competed with the Princeton Figure Skating Club throughout her four years at Princeton in both individual and synchronized skating events.
In fact, it was a figure skating club member who finalized Goswami’s decision to attend Princeton. During a visit to campus, Goswami noticed a student wearing a club jacket in the Frist Campus Center and introduced herself. The student graciously sat down with Goswami to chat about the University, and Goswami knew it would be a good fit.
“When I visited, everyone seemed very happy here and very accessible,” she said. “And, after four years at Princeton, I can say that’s really how it is.”
In the summer of 2008, Goswami spent 10 weeks working at Vorbeck Materials in Jessup, Md., as part of the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education’s Preparing to Lead internship program. The opportunity allowed her to apply engineering skills she learned in the classroom in a project to develop inks with electrical conductivity. In addition to the lab work, Goswami worked alongside Vorbeck’s patent agent – an experience that confirmed her post-Princeton plans to attend law school.
“I was considering law school before the internship, but I was convinced after working with the patent agent at Vorbeck,” she said. “The experience gave me much more of an idea of how I could use a law degree and I now plan to become a patent litigator.”