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Get to Know CBE PhD Graduates: Travis Laws

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.

Travis LawsTravis Laws (’22) is a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) PhD graduate. He is a current senior chemist specializing in marine coatings at Sherwin Williams.

How did you find out about the CBE PhD program?
“Tennessee was already of interest to me for graduate school, so it was based on me choosing Chemical Engineering vs Chemistry.”

Why did you choose UT’s PhD program?
“It’s well known. Its proximity to ORNL [Oak Ridge National Laboratory]. Also, prior interest in UT in general.”

What were the most valuable things you took away from the PhD program?
“How to work with diverse groups of people. How to learn and become proficient in new skills quickly. Also, industrial, and academic contacts spanning a broad range of companies and schools.”

Was there someone who significantly helped you along your path at UT?
“The friends I made in both the Chemical Engineering and Chemistry departments were the biggest help. We kept one another motivated through the multi-year process. Additionally, Gila Stein, Mike Kilbey, and Brian Long were all extremely helpful.”

How did the PhD program impact your life?
“It opened up doors that I would have not had access to otherwise. I also learned valuable skills that will benefit me throughout my life.”

What advice would you give to those considering UT’s PhD program?
“You will not regret it. The opportunities that open up after are huge.”

How did UT help you reach your current position?
“Half of my dissertation involved work extremely similar to the work I do now.”

What are your future goals in your profession?
“To help advance coatings knowledge across all sectors of industry, and to mentor those who are just starting in the coatings industry to help build the next generation of scientists.”


Lilly Tran (