Ecologically minded student researcher

April 13, 2018
Devin Dykes, arms folded, in a lab in front of a blackboard.

“I was underrepresented in my former [high] school so it’s what I’m used to, which is why it’s important to me to promote students who are underrepresented in STEM.”

That’s how University of Minnesota student Devin Dykes, recipient of a 3M Diversity Scholarship, describes one of the driving forces in his life. He wants young people to know that STEM careers are possible for them even if they lack middle-class stability or family support. When in high school, he would go with classmates to visit elementary schools and chat with kids from underrepresented groups about the value of education.

In the U’s Center for Sustainable Polymers, he has worked with chemistry professor Marc Hillmyer to find replacements for the many non-biodegradable, eco-unfriendly polymers that now populate landfills. He aspires to a career in chemical engineering and has also found an aptitude for the arts.

“There’s always a tendency to think of STEM as very objective, and to think of the arts as creative,” he says. "That’s true to a degree, but I think having a foot in both really helps. The arts help my intuition in STEM classes, which helps me look at things in new ways.”

Learn more about Devin Dykes.

Meet 3M Diversity Scholarship winners Emma Grant and Avery Loya.