September 12, 2023
Life After Witt

Christina Thompson ’21

Wittenberg chemistry major and musician provides perfect example of liberal arts in action

Christina Thompson, Wittenberg class of 2021, exemplifies the liberal arts in action. Originally from Maineville, Ohio, Thompson majored in both chemistry and music at Wittenberg, combining two of her passions during her time at the University.

“Wittenberg gave me meaningful experiences inside and outside of the classroom,” Thompson said. “I was able to pursue chemistry and music academically, but also get hands-on experience in research and be in a music ensemble. My first research experience was in the chemistry department as a freshman, which started a domino effect leading to me to pursue research long-term. I also got to be a part of student organizations that gave me a chance to explore out of my comfort zone and develop leadership skills.

“My experiences were possible at Witt thanks to everyone – from faculty, to staff, to alumni – and their willingness to help make it work,” Thompson added. “That sense of community is really valuable. The personalized support and mentorship I received from faculty was incredibly helpful and not something I think I would've received at a larger school.” 

Currently a Ph.D. student in the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky, Thompson is engaged in research that revolves around utilizing coal for conversion to high-value products such as carbon fiber and graphite rather than its traditional use as a fuel. 

“My plan is to continue in chemical research, most likely in industry,” said Thompson, who was an officer in Wittenberg University’s Speleological Society (caving club) and a member of the Wittenberg Singers for most of her time at Witt. She also engaged in summer research, working with Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Amil Anderson to study the free energy changes of glucose binding to glucose/galactose binding protein (GGBP).

“I was always involved with science and music before I came to Witt,” Thompson continued. “My goal was to pursue a career in science, but I still wanted to continue with piano in some capacity. My advisor, Dr. Chris Durrenberger (professor of music), encouraged me to pursue it as a second major. I think sometimes we think of arts and sciences as polar opposites, but skills I learned from music such as collaboration, patience, and being comfortable in front of an audience, continue to help me today.”

That same drive led Thompson to enter some of her work in a photo contest hosted by Chemistry and Engineering News (C&EN) of the American Chemical Society. Labeled ‘Chemistry in Pictures,’ the project featured photos of a lustrous carbon coke, which is what was left of a lump of coal after she finished studying it.

“I love seeing C&EN's chemistry in pictures because they give a snapshot of a lot of interesting science,” she said. “I submitted a photo for fun, but it was a cool opportunity to showcase the work being done in my research group.”

Thompson is a part of the Carbon Materials Group at the University of Kentucky Center of Applied Energy research. The team produces a coal extract via direct liquefaction of coal. Thompson then heats the solution, which allows volatile compounds to escape the material, leaving eerie bubbles in the carbon coke as it solidifies. The carbon coke is then converted to graphite, which is tested as an anode in lithium-ion batteries. The photo and full article can be found here.

What will you major in?
A Wittenberg education consists of three parts: a broad base in the liberal arts, an intensive course of study in a major, and an enhanced course of study that makes up a minor or electives.
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Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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