Dr. Czarena Crofcheck, affectionately known as Dr. C by her students, grew up moving from place to place – she attend 12 schools in 12 different years throughout Michigan, Ohio, and California. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University and earned both her Master of Science in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering from the University of Kentucky. Her love of STEM began in the fifth grade when she distinctly remembers seeing a commercial for “New and Improved Crust!” and wanting to be the person making it. However, it took until college for her to realize that it was the chemical engineering part of STEM that she really wanted to pursue.
Dr. C is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a professor in the Lewis Honors College and Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering Department at UK. Dr. C has a love of beer - currently, she teachesAEN341: Brewing Science and Technology. She also hopes to assist students complete research opportunities related to brewing and beer. She is also involved in the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative – a group that works towards gender balance in STEM. “When we first started, we did open a little bit of the dialogue up with “Why should we have gender equity?” And we don’t use “equality” we just say “equity”. We want everyone to have the opportunity to pursue what they want to pursue. It doesn’t mean that we’re aiming for 50/50 -because that’s not really fair either. Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative visits elementary schools, middle schools, and attends Engineering Day every year at UK in an effort to bring STEM to the kids with activities such as tie-dying with Sharpies and creating edible geodes.
As a mother to two kids, balancing life in STEM with being a mom can be difficult - Dr. Crofcheck says she manages with a strong support system and advises “don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get everything done and enjoy every single minute as much as you can” and also stated that while it may appear that people are juggling everything, sometimes the balls do fall.
To women pursuing careers in STEM, Dr. Crofcheck says “be really true to your heart ... and really figure out whether it’s what you really want to do. Because there are ways to do STEM differently and all over the place so if you go into it, there’s plenty of room to find something that makes you happy.”