Helen White grew up on Vashon Island, Washington where she attended Vashon Island High School. She chose to study chemistry because of her interest in radiochemistry, and because it paired well with her Radiation Health Physics degree.
Helen decided to go to OSU because of the campus and proximity to everyone she cares about. Compared to other schools, Oregon State had more to offer–academic and otherwise–so there wasn’t a doubt in her mind when it came to choosing a university.
Currently, Helen is performing research in the radiation center on campus with Dr. Chemey’s group. In the winter she will transfer projects from analyzing crystalline structures they were creating in the lab to working on a radiochemical separations project. Previously, she worked on a computational project using a DFT program in order to simulate metal hexaboride structures and explore their capabilities in holding radioactive waste materials. To get into research, Helen emailed and asked around professors she was interested in working with. Since then, she notes it has been an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. Helen plans on attending graduate school immediately after graduation, hoping to pursue a PhD in radiochemistry and focus on working in nuclear waste management.
Outside of school and work, she loves to be outside and enjoys going for walks, bouldering, running, and frolicking, all the things she says help keep her sane. Beyond that, she loves to read, which can be a much-needed break from chemistry. Right now, Helen’s favorite book is The Wall by Marlen Haushofer. It is a short, devastating, dystopian fiction that was written in 1963 which talks about a woman’s experience a person in a way that is not normally explored.
Helen’s favorite food is saltine crackers. She is the first in her family to go to college, which she adds is “an immeasurable privilege, especially in the state of the world now where a bachelor’s degree may afford a person a well-paying job.” She says that her biggest hope is to move into a financial place in her life where she can support those who have supported her in the past.