Elise is a recipient of the Faculty Senate Award and the morning student commencement speaker.
For Elise Bezold
, the decision to pursue chemistry began during her childhood on her family’s farm in Moscow, Ohio.
“As a child, I watched my dad take soil samples to determine its composition and was fascinated that in one small sample, a lab could identify the nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon levels,” she says.
Elise’s family raised pastured poultry, woodlot pigs, and a market garden; and sold their produce and meat at Findlay Market. She grew up showing horses, poultry and pigs at the county fair and attended the Ohio State Fair multiple times for her leadership and career development 4-H projects.
major is a third-generation Norse. Her grandfather, parents and siblings all attended Northern Kentucky University.
“They always talked about their experiences with how approachable the professors are. I knew I wanted to attend a university that puts a lot of emphasis on professor-student interactions because this would help me succeed,” she says. “I knew that attending a smaller university would give the opportunity to connect with faculty, do research and feel more prepared for attending graduate school.”
Chemistry is a broad field, but Elise has focused her studies on organic chemistry.
“Seeing how reactions work by pushing arrows is one of my absolute favorite things. The content is challenging because you have to use prior knowledge to get to the answer and really reason your way through a problem. Plus, NKU has the most amazing organic faculty; they are passionate about their discipline, which makes learning the tough subject way better.”
Elise has participated in undergraduate research and presented at Empowering Women in Organic Chemistry. She notes that it can be tough to be a female working in a male-dominated field.
“Representation matters, and when girls see someone like them in a field that interests them, they are more likely to pursue that field. As a child, both my mom and aunt had careers in STEM fields, so I had amazing role models who showed me that there is a place for me in a male-dominated field,” she says. “I hope to be that role model for young women and help them gain confidence to pursue a STEM field.”
Although organic chemistry can be a tough field, Elise loves sharing her passion with others in her role as a supplemental instruction leader.
“I love talking science and telling anyone about my research, which hopefully gets others excited about science! One of the things I focus on is how we can make organic chemistry more accessible,” she says. “Everyone knows it is hard, but I want to know how I can make it easier. What am I doing as an educator to make the class a little less painful? I’ve learned that metaphors are helpful when learning tough content, and I’ve learned that fill-in-the-structure worksheets with thought-provoking questions help students gain a deeper understanding. Science doesn’t have to be scary and hard. It’s my job to make it more accessible.”
When she isn’t in the lab or studying, Elise enjoys playing the violin and spending time with her family’s horses back home at the farm.
As Elise packs up for Atlanta and heads to Emory University to begin her doctoral studies in organic chemistry, she summarizes her time at NKU in one word: growth.
“We aren’t the same people we were four years ago. The opportunities, faculty and people we meet help mold us into new versions of ourselves. We don’t grow without the help of others, especially those who have pushed us out of our comfort zone,” she says. “Four years ago, I was shy and struggled with confidence in the lab. Through my time at NKU, my confidence in myself and my abilities have increased, and I attribute that to my professors and research mentor. I am not the same person I was four years ago because of what NKU has offered.”