AUGUSTA, GA – Dr. Simona Murph (EdS ’12), principal scientist at Savannah River National Lab, has been named by the U.S. Department of Energy as an Inspirational Woman in STEM.
The recognition is awarded to women whose work and achievements are encouraging a new generation of women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while also providing support to others working in STEM fields. Murph specializes in nanomaterials research and travels the world to share her research and technological advances with others.
As a girl growing up in Romania, Murph was fascinated by the life of Marie Curie and chemistry of cooking the complex traditional Romanian meals her mother created. As she got older, Murph followed that fascination to Babes-Bolyai University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and physics – then a doctorate in nanotechnology at the University of South Carolina. But she wasn’t done yet. In 2012, she earned an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from the GRU College of Education.
“Unlike many programs at other universities, GRU focused on providing me the applicable learning that I needed to be successful upon graduation. Though the theoretical learning of our program was strong, I was most impressed with the multitude of school district activities that we were asked to perform and the apprenticeships that the university required. The application of our learning exemplifies GRU’s commitment to complex learning models and educational strategies,” she said.
Murph has always considered herself a lifelong learner and believes her mission is to ensure the next generation continues to be lifelong learners. To that end, she has taught numerous courses and hundreds of students at the middle, secondary, undergraduate and graduate school levels. Sharing what she has learned through her academic background, research experience and many STEM initiatives, she not only inspires her students and colleagues, but continues to fuel her own intrinsic motivation to discover the next great advances in nanotechnology.
“I am able to blend my roles as a scientist, researcher, educator and educational leader in a unique way that very few people are able to,” she said.
Since graduating, Murph has formed the Group for Innovation and Advancements in NanoTechnology Sciences (GIANTS) program, which has the motto “Small Materials, Big Innovations,” at Savannah River National Laboratory . This program includes undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral researchers from the University of South Carolina, University of Georgia, Clemson University and GRU. Active university students can come to SRNL and grow their knowledge and skills in the nanosciences.
“Knowing that I contributed in a small way to the success of an innovation in STEM and possibly future successes in years to come is about the best feeling there is. My goal is to continue to guide and inspire the next generation of STEM learners. I owe this ability to the Education Leadership Program of GRU,” Murph said.