Cornell University
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Cornell University

CURBx event helped shape Erin Fleck’s ’22 academic path

College: College of Engineering
Major: Engineering physics
Hometown: Morristown, New Jersey

Erin Fleck ’22 joined the Kourkoutis Electron Microscopy research group during her first year at Cornell year and it has inspired her path to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics at Stanford University.

“This experience has not only taught me how to do research, including conducting experiments, writing publications and collaborating with other researchers, but additionally showed me that I loved doing research,” Fleck says.

One of the most influential moments at Cornell for Fleck came when she spoke at a Cornell Undergraduate Research Board’s CURBx event, where she spoke about her research, which involved developing a Python program to analyze atomic-resolution electron microscopy images.

“Since this event was for people of all disciplines, I had to make my research accessible to the general public,” she says. “Even though because of this it wasn’t as nitty-gritty science, I found that I truly loved communicating my research with others, particularly those who might not even know what an electron microscope is prior to the talk.”

The support she received afterwards was encouraging and inspired her to continue high-level research while still communicating it to others at events like CURBx, conferences and in graduate school.

“My project team, Cornell ChemE Car, frequently has alumni come and speak to the team about their post-Cornell life, and I hope to be able to do this, to keep in touch with my team and share with them my graduate school experience,” Fleck says.

Fleck says mentorship was crucial for her, as well.

“I was lucky enough to have a number of female mentors through research and academic advising who were quite inspirational, and who could encourage me to always go the extra mile and to make space for myself in a male-dominated field,” she says.

After graduating, Fleck plans to join the Cornell Alumni Association of Northern California and remain in touch with her Cornell connections. She also hopes to one day give back to the university.

“My project team, Cornell ChemE Car, frequently has alumni come and speak to the team about their post-Cornell life, and I hope to be able to do this, to keep in touch with my team and share with them my graduate school experience,” Fleck says.

Cornell’s Class of 2022 has a great deal to be proud of: They have worked hard to forge their futures and make their mark, all the while finding success and demonstrating great resolve through a host of challenges, including the historic adversity of pursing their degrees during a pandemic.

Read more about this incredible group of Cornellians.

Written by Jesse Osbourne
Strategic Communications at Cornell University

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Cornell’s mission is to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge, to educate the next generation of global citizens, and to promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community.

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