Posted March 10th, 2017
Associate Professor Jin Kim Montclare demonstrating a chemistry app she helped develop to high school students
With Professor Jin Montclare’s passion for K-12 STEM education and mentorship, it comes as no surprise that she herself benefitted from continuous support in her education and in her love for STEM. “I’ve always been driven by curiosity, and as a kid, I had plenty of questions about things around me,” Montclare said. “This was nurtured by my teachers and mentors throughout my K-12, college and career.” This encouragement guided Montclare throughout her path from an undergraduate studying chemistry, to now being an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NYU Tandon and running her own lab in protein engineering and molecular design.
Montclare’s innovative research focuses on engineering enzymes and intelligent biomaterials to effectively treat disorders. The lab’s current projects include engineering phosphotriesterase to detoxify and combat pesticides and chemical warfare agents like sarin, and developing biomaterials that deliver drugs and gene therapy while being visualized or monitored by MRI. Outside the lab, Montclare is heavily involved in programs like Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE), inviting high school students to conduct summer research in the Montclare Lab. She also creates digital educational tools and applications to help high school students ace their chemistry labs and become more confident in their STEM courses. Her commitment to educating the next generation of STEM leaders comes from a desire to give back to students all the support and mentorship she received. “As a child of immigrants raised in the Bronx, I have benefitted tremendously from my community and teachers. Perhaps, I can inspire others to see STEM as I do — as something beautiful in and of itself as well as a powerful tool to better the world.”
Throughout her career, Montclare has seen the need for diversity in STEM entrepreneurship and research and recently founded the Convergence for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Institute that helps faculty and students build their entrepreneurial skills and encourages diverse and multidisciplinary approaches to the world’s problems. While many STEM leaders and programs are recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion to innovation, many are still slow to implement the input of women and underrepresented groups in the classroom, in academic leadership, in the lab, and in the industry. “There is evidence out there on how diversity matters in STEM and how diversity makes us smarter,” Montclare said. Not only can diversity in STEM entrepreneurship generate innovative and productive results for all people, it can also, as Montclare hopes, change the STEM environment to be “more inclusive and less discriminating.”
Encouraging young girls and students to not be deterred by “naysayers” is something Montclare believes wholeheartedly in. She was even profiled in Marvel Comics’ Unstoppable Wasp series to share her journey within the world of STEM and the importance of mentoring young female scientists. Montclare’s “biggest piece of advice is to cultivate selective hearing” and to listen to those who support your love of STEM rather than those trying to bring you down. “By surrounding yourself with STEM supporters, you can focus on the positives and blaze that trail!”
Stay tuned for more profiles of Women in STEM as we continue this series throughout Women's History Month.
Graduate School of Arts and Science
Master of Arts in English Literature, Class of 2018