Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Skip to main content

Montwaun Young

Ph.D. Chemistry

Hometown: Greensboro, NC

Undergraduate Institution: The University of North Carolina Wilmington

Degree: BS Chemistry

Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2010

Graduate Study: MS Chemistry, 2015, Tennessee State University

RPI Department: Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Faculty Advisor: Jacob T. Shelley


What are your hobbies/interests/special talents?

In my free time, I enjoy playing with my boxer, spending time with friends, playing video games and catching a festival or event every now and then. I am big on expanding underrepresented minority participation in STEM and continue my efforts by being an accessible role model and actively participating in campus and community organizations.


What are some benefits of being part of the Graduate Community at Rensselaer?

I find that most students find a good balance between work and school, and that was an important factor in determining my choice for graduate school.  There are numerous ways to get involved and the chance to participate in many activities hosted by campus organizations.  RPI encourages interdisciplinary studies and there are many opportunities to cross-collaborate and expand your research.  The environment in the chemistry department is pleasant and the faculty have extensive knowledge in their areas of research and are always eager to share knowledge.  The great reputation of the school is extremely beneficial when considering your future career.


Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.

My research is in the field of analytical chemistry, specializing in the fundamental characterization and new applications for chemical imaging with mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is a powerful technique that enables us to visualize and directly determine the spatial distribution of chemical species on a sample surface. Combining various analytical techniques involved in MSI that can provide orthogonal analytical information can be beneficial, since each particular technique has its own advantages. In my projects, I am developing an approach to generate chemical “images” or maps of solid sample surfaces with high spatial resolution. As such, I am developing a new multimodal imaging approach that simultaneously provides elemental and molecular information via high‑resolution optical spectroscopy and mass spectrometry.  Additionally, I am exploring the use of a direct current atmospheric-pressure glow discharge (APGD), modeled on the flowing atmospheric-pressure afterglow (FAPA), as a secondary excitation source for atomic and molecular optical emission spectroscopy, which provides good analyte discrimination and sensitivity with little to no sample preparation.


What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I want to take some time off and travel outside of the U.S.  In regard to employment, I would like a R&D or consulting position in industry or government.