Education & Experience

I have a passion for communicating and promoting science, both within the scientific community and to the public. Helping other scientists achieve their goals has always been something I care deeply about, and I believe that I could make a great impact on science in a communications or outreach role!

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Education

University of Michigan MS in Chemistry

September 2017 - December 2019

Advisor: Anne McNeil

Honors: Alternate for National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

Relevant Coursework: ENVIRON 320 Health and Environmental Journalism

Hope College BS in Chemistry (ACS Accredited) 

Minor: Writing

September 2012 - May 2016

Advisor: Jason Gillmore

Honors: summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, A.T. Godfrey Award for Top Senior Chemistry Student, ACS Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry, ACS Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry

Experience

Science Writing Intern  Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

January 2021 - Present

  • Writing news and press releases for Fermilab’s website and web features for Symmetry magazine

  • Explaining complex scientific concepts in language aimed towards a general audience

  • Interviewing scientists and subject matter experts for context on their work

Freelance Technical Writer  MaxCyte, Inc.

October 2020 - Present

  • Transforming technical research articles into engaging B2B content

  • Highlighting applications of MaxCyte's technology in biomedical research

Freelance Science Writer

March 2020 - Present

  • Writing news and web articles on topics including plastic waste, COVID-19 testing and poison chemistry    

  • Pitching stories to editors that will meet the interests and information needs of their publications’ audience

  • Fact-checking to verify the accuracy of information before publication

  • Selecting relevant illustrations and visuals to accompany written work

  • Working with editors to revise and refine articles before publication

Freelance Spotlight Writer  Journal of the American Chemical Society

March 2020 - Present

  • Highlighting published research articles in brief summaries for a non-specialist scientific audience

Graduate Student Instructor  University of Michigan

September 2017 - April 2020

  • Facilitated 5 sections of undergraduate introductory Organic Chemistry I discussion (fall 2017)

  • Coached two sections of undergraduate students through introductory Organic Chemistry II lab experiments and lesson plans per term (winter 2018, winter 2020)

  • Provided instructional support for graduate-level Physical Organic Chemistry (fall 2018)

Graduate Student Research Assistant  University of Michigan

September 2017 - December 2019

  • Spearheaded the McNeil group’s efforts towards organic materials as charge carriers for flow batteries

  • Wrote and edited grant applications and research proposals for project funding

  • Delivered quarterly project updates and presentations for collaborators and funding agencies

  • Presented research posters at two internal symposia and an external DOE research hub meeting

Chemist Kelly Scientific (Contract Assignment at Dow Chemical Co.)

June 2016 - August 2017

  • Investigated the corrosion resistance of polyolefin coatings on a metal substrate.

  • Collaborated on efforts to stabilize the pH of dispersion-based commercial carpet coatings.

  • Co-authored internal reports detailing corrosion test results and pH stability work.

Undergraduate Research Assistant Hope College

April 2014 - May 2016

  • Developed an analytical method for titrating boron trihalides using N,N-dimethylaniline.

  • Synthesized and electrochemically characterized carbazole monomers for cation radical polymerization.

  • Wrote and published a communication detailing work on the titration project, as well as semester research summaries and a final comprehensive report.

  • Presented research posters at 4 external conferences—including a regional and a national ACS meeting—and 3 internal symposia.

Community Involvement

Interviewing Mentor Fermilab Family Open House

January 2021

  • Virtually visited elementary school classes to talk to students about the questions science writers ask, to prepare them to interview Fermilab scientists as part of the Virtual Open House

Mentee NASW David Perlman Virtual Mentoring Program

May 2020 - July 2020

  • Engaged in virtual professional development and mentoring program for early-career science writers to enhance pitching, writing, and editing skills

  • Honors: 2020 Student Summer Writing Award

Science Communication Fellow University of Michigan Chemistry Department

November 2019 - March 2020

  • Pitching and writing departmental news updates for the Michigan Chemistry website.

Activity Leader University of Michigan Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science

November 2018, November 2019

  • Led hands-on science activities for 4th-6th grade girls from underserved backgrounds

Course Leader Michigan Math and Science Scholars

July 2018 - July 2019

  • Co-led a 2-week intensive science camp course focused on sustainable polymer science for high school students.

  • Tested, refined, and edited experimental procedures to create a “lab manual” for the course.

VP of Communications UM Chemistry Graduate Student Council

August 2018 - August 2019

  • Coordinated e-mails to the department with news about upcoming CGSC-sponsored social events.

  • Planned and executed CGSC events such as the summer picnic, holiday party, and recruiting activities.

  • Consulted on the formation of a Mental Health Task Force for the Chemistry Department

Outreach Volunteer American Chemical Society, Midland Chapter

January 2017 - July 2017

  • Conducted science demonstrations for children at fairs and other public events

Demonstration Leader Delta College STEM Festival 2016

September 2016

  • Conducted hands-on science activities and demonstrations for local elementary through middle school students.

Publications

"Throwing Non-natural Enzyme Reactivity for a Loop"  Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications J. Am. Chem. Soc2021, 143, 6703–6704.

"Rock transportation system is ready for excavation of DUNE caverns" published. on news.fnal.gov May 5, 2021.

"On the marvels of physics" published on symmetrymagazine.org May 4, 2021.

"The beginner's guide to a career in science writing" published on crosstalk.cell.com April 30, 2021.

"Where science meets the sacred" published on symmetrymagazine.org April 20, 2021.

"Conducting Better Characterization on Conductive Fullertubes"  Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications J. Am. Chem. Soc2021, 143, 4857–4858.

"The mystery of the muon's magnetism" published on symmetrymagazine.org March 30, 2021.

"Doing the (Ultrafast) Twist in Artificial Photosynthesis" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications J. Am. Chem. Soc2021, 143, 3265–3266.

"A Fermilab family legacy" published on symmetrymagazine.org March 9, 2021.

"Multicomponent Sulfur Reaction Yields Multiple Useful Polymers" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 3663–3664.

"Testing wraps up for first Fermilab-designed cryomodule for PIP-II accelerator" published on news.fnal.gov March 1, 2021.

"One minute with Arden Warner, accelerator physicist" published on news.fnal.gov February 22, 2021.

"The critical role of chemistry in D&D poisons" published on chemistryworld.com February 19, 2021.

"New metamaterials for studying the oldest light in the universe"  published on news.fnal.gov February 17, 2021.

"One minute with Maxine Hronek, DUNE collaboration coordinator" published on news.fnal.gov February 1, 2021.

"Heat-Responsive Coordination Polymers Warm Up To Reversible Motion" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 1681–1682.

"Reducing Synthetic Challenges with Reductive Electrochemical Coupling" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 20913-20914. 

"Meet Four Ph.D. Students Who Passed Their Candidacy Exams in Quarantine" published on gpchemist.acs.org November 11, 2020.

"Funding for all: The inside scoop on grants and fellowships" published on nasw.org November 10, 2020

"Radical Mediators Help Electrocatalysts Achieve Their Potential" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 19411–19412.
 
"Aromatic Molecules Bond under High-Pressure Situations" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc2020142, 18733–18734.

"Ligand Conformation Is Star Player in Self-Assembling Supramolecules" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 14217209–17210.

"Questing for Cures from a Boiling River" published on nasw.org October 3, 2020.

"Esterification Expands to a New Framework" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 16097–16098.

"Grad Students Weigh In on Returning to Lab After Quarantine" published on gpchemist.acs.org September 14, 2020.

"To Stop Coronavirus’ Spread, We’ll Need New Testing Technology" published on discovermagazine.com September 11, 2020. 

"Heavy Halogens Broaden the Photopolymerization Spectrum" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 14752–14753.

"High-Valent Cobalt Complex Is a Mighty C–H Activator" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 14005–14006.

"One Small Step for MAE, One Giant Leap for Polyyne." Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 13255.

Fagnani, D.E.; Hall, A.O.; Zurcher, D.M.; Sekoni, K. N.; Barbu, B.N.; McNeil, A.J. A short course on sustainable polymers for high school students. J. Chem. Ed. 202097, 2160-2168.

"Graft Copolymers Remember How to Shape Up." Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 11611–11612.

"We Need to Talk About Plastic Lab Waste" published on medium.com/bioeconomy-xyz June 19, 2020.

"Side Chains Point the Way to Stereoselective Glycosylation" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020142, 10569-10570.

"Why Aren't Academic Sustainable Lab Programs Gaining More Traction?" published on labmanager.com June 3, 2020.

"Automated Separation Technique Gives Chips Off The Old Block Copolymer" Barbu, B.N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 9859–9860.

"Copper Carbene Complex Shines as a Deep Red Emitter" Barbu, B. N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020142, 8539-8540.

"Chiral Urea Catalyst Tackles Tricky Terpene Synthesis" Barbu, B. N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020. 142, 7243-7244.

"Researchers Apply MAD Skills to Block Copolymers" Barbu, B. N. Spotlights on Recent JACS Publications. J. Am. Chem. Soc2020142, 6447-6448.

"Mental Health, Well-Being, and Research" published on lsa.umich.edu/chem March 2, 2020. Co-written with Taylor Soucy.

Barbu, B.N.; Kosak, T.M.; Prins, A.J.; Gillmore, J.G.; Korich, A.L. Fast Colorimetric Titration Protocol for the Quantification of Boron Tribromide.Tetrahedron Letters 201657, 3746-3748. 

Professional Memberships

American Chemical Society
National Association of Science Writers

Honors and Awards

2020

Summer Student Writing Award, National Association of Science Writers

2019

Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant

Alternate Awardee, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

2016

A.T. Godfrey Award for Top Senior Chemistry Student, Hope College

Phi Beta Kappa

Sigma Xi Senior Research Award

ACS Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry

Physical Chemistry Award, Hope College

2013

ACS Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry

Hope College Jaecker Chemistry Scholarship