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Alumni Spotlight: Michael J. Polen, Jr. '13

michael j. polen, jr.

BS Chemistry


Pottstown, PA

Current Position

PhD Student
Carnegie Mellon University





My Widener Experience

why did you decide to major in chemistry?

I always knew I wanted to be involved in the sciences for my career, but I only chose chemistry after I had been taught by great faculty members in the chemistry department at Widener. I learned a great deal from them and got to participate in so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had the chance to without them. I got involved in research early in my time at Widener when I was invited to be part of a freshman summer research experience with the department.

if you were to do your college experience at widener again, what wouldn't you change?

I honestly wouldn't change much of anything. It was way better than I could have asked for. I was involved with research in numerous fields, both within and outside of Widener. I had lots of support from my professors and received a number of great awards. I was a successful researcher and a respected tutor, and I met a group of lifelong friends. Widener was a great experience and one that has shaped the rest of my life. 


My Professional Experience

what do you like most about your current position?

Being a PhD student is a great experience. As an independent researcher, you have the freedom to guide your own research, while still taking classes and learning more about your field of interest. You are also progressing your field and meeting lots of people in and around your field. I am also becoming more aware of environmental issues and realizing that I want to do more work in that field in my future work. 

what advice would you give a prospective student considering your major?

To anyone interested in chemistry, I definitely say go for it. There are lots of interesting topics and blossoming new fields. One area that Widener is getting involved with is green chemistry. There is an increasing need for chemists and other scientists interested in making a more sustainable society. With Widener becoming more invested in sustainability, it is a great place to learn more about these issues and get involved in these pertinent problems in our society.