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Your image of a university researcher will never be the same after meeting Azuráe Johnson.

Only the second Tennessee Tech University student ever chosen for a competitive undergraduate research fellowship with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington D.C., Johnson, 19, can already catalogue her biomolecular chemical engineering research experiences at the university.

Less than a year since graduating from Cookeville High School, she’s proving there’s no need to follow traditional timelines when you love what you are studying.

“In terms of research, I’m just a tiny sprout in a magnificent rainforest, surrounded by mentors, advisors, and graduate students who are paving the way,” Johnson said.

In turn, Johnson is carving a path for young people who want to delve into research as undergraduates and showing them that Tennessee Tech is one place where their interests are matched with opportunities.
Johnson credits her transition from high schooler to freshman researcher to extensive training in nanocomposite research studies under her advisor, Holly Stretz, and Pedro Arce, who together lead TTU’s Chemical Engineering Nanocomposite Research Team.