by Mary David Miller

When University of West Georgia chemistry graduate Chris Crittenden ‘12, decided to “go west,” he did not realize the impact it would have on his life. Meeting the love of his life, finding his passion and taking advantage of opportunities, Crittenden spent his time at UWG making the most of his experience by creating lasting connections and impressions.

Chris Crittenden talking to students.
Chris Crittenden shares his experience and knowledge with chemistry students during a recent visit to UWG.

“This is one of the best undergrad chemistry departments I’ve ever heard of,” Crittenden said. “I’ve worked with several.”

He came to college to study chemistry engineering and had planned on only spending two years at UWG and finishing at Georgia Tech. After his freshman year when he met Professor of Chemistry Dr. Farooq Khan, he was put in mass spectrometry lab, which furthered his decision to stay at UWG and receive his full undergraduate degree.

“My first year here as a freshman, I was taking the general chemistry course,” Crittenden recalled. “Dr. Khan said, ‘Hey this seems like it’s too easy for you. Do you want to try something harder?’ So he stuck me in a mass spectrometry lab, and I’ve been doing them since then. It was the opportunity that he gave me that is what put me in line to pursue a higher education.”

Since graduation, Crittenden became a high school physics teacher. After six months he went on to go back to school and get his doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin. He is still studying in mass spectrometry labs, researching drug reactions and vaccines, and continuing his study in chemistry. Crittenden has also written two publications and plans to publish more by the time he finishes his Ph.D.

Students join Professors Dr. Farooq Khan and Dr. Satyanarayana Swamy-Mruthinti at UWG's mass spectrometer.
Students join Professors Dr. Farooq Khan and Dr. Satyanarayana Swamy-Mruthinti at UWG's mass spectrometer.

As an undergraduate it is important to connect with your professors and learn everything you can in order to discover your passion for your work. Crittenden turned to Khan. Teaching him how to write scientifically, speak in front of lectures, and how to publish, Khan guided Crittenden through his undergraduate experience.

“What really got me ready for grad school was the opportunities that Dr. Khan gave me in lab,” Crittenden said. “He gave me the opportunity to do my own research and present at conferences as an 18-year-old undergraduate.”

Not only did Crittenden find his love for his work but he also met his wife while studying organic chemistry. They now live in Austin, Texas together with their daughter.

“We’ve been prepared for every job we’ve gone into or every job we’ve considered because of what West Georgia did for us,” he concluded.

Posted on November 14, 2016