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Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Rutgers logo
Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Colgate-Palmolive Experiential Learning Program Prepares PhD Students for Careers ​– and Healthier, Brighter Futures​ 

 For more than a decade, Rutgers University has enjoyed a relationship with Colgate-Palmolive​ Company. Since 2020, it has included​​ a​n affiliation​​ ​with the Colgate-Palmolive Experiential Learning Opportunity Program (ELOP), which is designed to develop and enhance Rutgers’ doctoral candidates’ industry skills while expanding Colgate​-Palmolive​’s talent pipeline. 

The annual program offers doctoral students from Rutgers and other N​ew Jersey ​​colleges and universities an exceptional opportunity to gain immersive, hands-on industry-based experience – and prepare for post-graduate careers – under the guidance of a mentor at Colgate-Palmolive’s​ Global Technology Center in Piscataway, New Jersey​​.     ​  

Each year, several Rutgers students ​​​​​participate in the program funded by Colgate​​-Palmolive​​​ ​and ​receive a ​stipend from Rutgers​​.​​ During their 12-month internships, the students ​commit approximately 20 hours each week to the​ir Colgate​​-Palmolive​​ research​ project​s​ and leadership training.   

Doctoral candidates from the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (CBE) are among the students from the School of Engineering, as well as from a broad range of departments across Rutgers New Brunswick, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, and Rutgers Newark​.​​ ​The students ​have benefited from the program’s​ ​research collaborations, published results, and first-hand exposure to and interaction with ​Colgate executives and business units.  

“I see the alliance as a​n​ example of how industry ​leaders ​and Rutgers can work together ​to leverage one another’s strengths​,” says Dave Magnoni, Rutgers University Foundation director of corporate engagement. “In addition to the significant research collaboration with Rutgers, this program helps our students experience industry research first-hand by working on meaningful projects at Colgate. 

Raj Kohli, Colgate-Palmolive executive vice president has noted that, “The ELOP program is one of many that enables Rutgers University students and Colgate-Palmoliv​e scientists and researchers to collaborate on projects that can help advance our purpose as a caring, innovative growth company that is reimagining a healthier future for people and our planet.”​  

A Positive Experience 

Student participants would agree. “From the beginning, our CBE students have been positive about the program,” says CBE Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director Fuat Celik. “They are especially appreciative of the​ innovative​ research opportunities, as well as a high level of corporate exposure and engagement.”  

One CBE PhD candidate, Jinwoong Nam, who plans to work in industry after receiving his doctoral degree in chemical and biochemical engineering in 2023, took part in the hybrid Colgate-Palmolive Experiential Learning Opportunity Program from September 2021, until June 2023, ​​where he reports that his responsibilities “included advanced analytics of clinical and laboratory data for the oral early care research team.” 

Nam, whose engineering expertise includes computational catalysis and data science, describes his doctoral research focus as an “investigation of thermochemical properties of the surface intermediates and their catalysis using first-principles calculation and machine learning. “  

His research, he reports, dovetailed nicely with his ELOP experience, which ​​“related to my PhD research in that various machine learning approaches for chemical data were employed for both my PhD research and my internship.”