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Get to Know CBE PhD Graduates: Christopher Bottoms

This is one in a series of Q&As with recent graduates of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) PhD program. The graduates discuss where they are now, how the CBE program helped them get there, and their future goals.

Christopher Bottoms (’22) is currently a lithography research engineer for the semiconductors division of IBM Research.

How did you find out about the CBE PhD program?
“While searching for chemical engineering programs with strong materials research.”

Why did you choose UT’s PhD program?
“A balance between interest in the research of a variety of professors and the perceived quality of life in Knoxville and UT.”

What were the most valuable things you took away from the PhD program?
“The capacity and drive to learn new skills quickly, the ability to express ideas and findings in effective ways, and the persistence to drive towards solutions.”

Christopher BottomsWas there someone who significantly helped you along your path at UT?
“The two people who helped me most were my advisors, Dr. Gila Stein, and Dr. Manolis Doxastakis. More than just their guidance in my research, they helped me to develop the skills that I needed for my post-grad life in the industry.”

How did the PhD program impact your life?
“The program gave me the opportunity to explore my interests and introduced me to a research topic that would drive me towards my future career as a lithography engineer, a profession that I greatly enjoy.”

What advice would you give to those considering the UT PhD program?
“PhD dissertations can be tough and take significant work, but don’t forget to build your personal skills as well as academic skills. Go to conferences, meet people with similar interests, and learn the importance of your work. This will help to keep your drive and push through.”

How did UT help you reach your current position?
“UT and my advisors encouraged me to attend conferences to present my research, which is where I made the personal connections that helped lead me towards my current position.”

What are your future goals in your profession?
“My current goal is to become a technical expert in my field. In addition to my day-to-day deliverables, I do a variety of professional development activities and present my research at conferences to work towards this goal. Luckily, IBM Research encourages and invests in the development of their employees, similar to how UT and my advisors did before.”

Is there anything else you would like to share?
“The semiconductor field is growing in the United States and there are opportunities for those in all areas of interest. If there are those with a strong interest in innovation, in both a collaborative and competitive field, I would highly encourage those persons to consider it.”


Lilly Tran (