What’s it like being a pioneer?
Ask Dr. Adam Freeman ’95, chemistry, an innovator in the chemistry of paper and one of the first generations of UMBC’s Meyerhoff Scholars. He’ll tell you the secret – keeping your eyes open for opportunity.
“You know, when I look at where I am and what I wound up doing, most of it was unplanned,” said Dr. Freeman, Senior Research Scientist for the Eastman Kodak Company in New York.
“But over time, I realized everything I was learning was part of a flow that wove together over time.”
A native of Silver Spring, Dr. Freeman knew he was interested in the sciences in high school, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study in college. One day, during his AP history class, the vice principal of his high school called him into a meeting to discuss the Meyerhoff Scholars program, which was still in its infancy at UMBC.
Though many of his friends planned to attend nearby College Park, he found his niche at UMBC. He also praised the “support structure” of the Meyerhoff program.
“UMBC seemed more digestible and more tangible (than College Park),” said Dr. Freeman, an “M3,” or third generation graduate of the Meyerhoff program. “It wasn’t like this big beast. It was small and I saw that I would get individual attention.”
Though he started off studying chemical engineering because it seemed to offer the most money as a career, Dr. Freeman quickly figured out his priorities lay elsewhere.
“I quickly learned that money wasn’t the driver…and I switched over to pure chemistry right away,” he said.
Following graduation from UMBC, Dr. Freeman went on to do graduate work in materials science/polymer chemistry at Cornell University and later earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.
Today, at Eastman Kodak, he uses chemistry on a daily basis to create technologies that support current and future imaging technologies, such as fade-resistant papers for printing photographs. His wife, Thuy Pham ’95, biochemistry and molecular biology, also uses the knowledge she learned at UMBC on a daily basis as a researcher at Bausch & Lomb.
As a researcher and innovator, Dr. Freeman urges current students to keep their options open. One never knows where or when opportunities to use one’s knowledge will arise.
“I really do think chemistry is so central to everyday life,” he said. “It’s in the things we eat, it’s in the computers we use and the plastic that’s used to make the computers…it’s all chemistry.”
– Jenny O’Grady
Originally posted November 2005

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