New Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kimberly See caught her first glimpses into the world of chemistry growing up in Colorado. She originally thought she wanted to be a botanist, but then began to realize that plants—and everything else around her—are made up of molecules, and switched her interest to chemistry.
"My chemistry kit was going outside and playing in the streams and being in nature and climbing in mountains and trees," she says in a new video profile.
After earning her bachelor's degree in chemistry from the Colorado School of Mines in 2009, she went on to UC Santa Barbara, where she received her PhD in 2014. She worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until last year, when she joined the Caltech faculty.
See's passion for the outdoors led her to focus on energy research, and more specifically, battery chemistry. She and her students are looking into potential new electrodes and electrolytes that go beyond the traditional chemical reactions using lithium-ion batteries. For example, they are studying the chemistry of magnesium and other abundant, less-expensive resources that might one day be used in batteries for electrical vehicles or other forms of renewable energy storage. Says See, "the ultimate goal of our lab is really to develop new chemistry."