Alex Young (BS ‘20, MS ‘22) | Alumni Spotlight
Alex Young (she/they)
B.S. ’20, M.S. ’22
Academic advisor: Professor Tom Jaramillo
What’s your fondest memory about your time at Stanford?
I found really wonderful mentorship in the chemical engineering department during my time at Stanford, and have a lot of fond memories from that time. One that stands out to me is the first meeting I had with Tom Jaramillo when he was assigned to be my advisor. I had requested him as my advisor because I really wanted to work in his lab, and was really nervous about asking him about possibilities for undergraduates to do research. Much to my surprise, as soon as I mentioned interest in his lab, he immediately suggested I come to a group meeting and get involved! Then at the first group meeting I attended, a graduate student approached me and offered to mentor me and help me get started doing research. I was really pleasantly surprised by how few barriers there were to entry, and how genuinely everyone seemed to want to see me succeed. That feeling persisted throughout my time in that lab.
What have you been up to since Stanford?
Since graduating from Stanford, I have worked at two climate-tech startups that both spun out of Stanford, and were both supported by the TomKat Center. The first was Antora Energy, where I worked as a Materials Characterization Engineer focused on understanding of our thermophotovoltaic devices. In late 2021, I moved over to Twelve, which actually spun out of the Jaramillo lab in the chemical engineering department, where I worked as an undergraduate student. Twelve focuses on transforming carbon dioxide into commodity chemicals and fuels, specifically addressing hard-to-abate sectors like air travel and plastics. I started at Twelve as a Testing Engineer, but have since transitioned to a Techno-Economic Analyst role. I work a lot on cost modeling, environmental impact modeling, and marrying business objectives to the technical roadmap. While working, I also had the chance to finish my master's degree in chemical engineering through the Honors Cooperative Program, and am serving as an Admissions Director for the Out for Undergrad Engineering Conference for 2023.
Can you share any advice with our current students or postdocs?
Stanford offers some really special opportunities to its affiliates, so my biggest advice would be to explore them while you have the chance. The TomKat Center internship program was my entryway into my career of choice. I also went abroad and Stanford helped coordinate an internship for me in Berlin through the Krupp internship program that pretty perfectly aligned with my interests. These experiences have shaped my life and career, and I would really recommend current affiliates seek out opportunities like these that relate to their interests. My other main piece of advice would be to assume that people want you to succeed, and to ask for what you want and need. At every turn in my academic and professional career at Stanford, I found people willing to support me and give me opportunities. This is a really special thing that does not exist everywhere, so I would really encourage folks to take advantage of it!
This article is part of the Department of Chemical Engineering Alumni Spotlight series designed to highlight the impact and trajectory of the work of our alumni. Stanford University does not endorse any non-Stanford entities, programs, products, or services listed in the article.