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Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

“Rutgers gives you the tools to pursue anything you want, whether it be further education or a job.” – Julia Caldaro

As an out-of-state student from North Carolina, rising senior Julia Caldaro chose Rutgers because of its proximity to New York City. In summer 2022, she joined CBE associate professor Haoran Zhang metabolic research group, where she conducts simple experiments. This summer, she will pursue a co-op internship with DuPont in Parlin, New Jersey. She is a project director for Rutgers Happy Horizons, a philanthropic organization that researches and presents solutions to issues involving heath care and education in India.

Why chemical and biochemical engineering?

I knew I wanted to be an engineer because of my love of mathematics, but I chose chemical engineering after attending Majors Night and learning about industry experience in this field, and how versatile the degree is.

female student crossing her arms with eyeglasses wearing a white lab coat

What most excites you about your engineering education?

I really like the engineering class size at Rutgers. It’s bigger than my high school classes were, but still small enough that I know most of my peers.

Rutgers gives you the tools to pursue anything you want, whether it be further education or a job. I hope to work as a process engineer before eventually furthering my education.

Have you been involved in any research projects?

I’ve been working in Dr. Zhang’s metabolic engineering lab since last summer, on a project that’s goal is to optimize the process involving genetically modified bacteria to produce commercial compounds.

As an undergraduate, I do simple experiments such as monitoring E. coli behavior when it is exposed to different antibiotic concentrations.

Bacteria are a lot of fun because of their sometimes unpredictable behavior. It really challenges your problem-solving skills.

Did you face any challenges as an SoE student?

As part of the incoming class of 2020, the effects of the pandemic significantly affected my experience as an SoE student. Losing quality instruction time in high school from it shutting down made me enter college from a “summer break” lasting approximately six months. On top of that, I had to adjust to learning in a new virtual format.

Along with academic challenges, there was the fear for the health of your loved ones and the isolation of not being able to see old friends or connect with new classmates. I was glad when Rutgers was able to reopen with lots of safety measures in place so that everyone could stay in good health.

Have you learned anything about yourself at Rutgers that surprised you?

Rutgers has shaped me into a young professional. I have a bubbly and playful personality and found it hard to present myself as mature and qualified in certain situations. The Office of Career Exploration and Success hosts countless events to help you learn and practice how to carry yourself in the workplace and interview settings, while maintaining your individuality.

What’s your advice for incoming students?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your peers, teaching assistants, learning assistants, or even your professors any questions you have – no matter how small. For this reason, you should start your assignments early so you have time to ask for help.

What three to five words describe your RU SoE experience?

Effective. Close-knit. Scenic.