Alumni profile: Jalynn Taylor-Farmer (B.S. '16/H&S)
Jalynn Taylor-Farmer (B.S. ‘16/H&S) came to college knowing exactly what she wanted to do—earn a degree in chemistry and go on to a career as a cosmetic chemist. VCU was on her radar after seeing her older sister, Khalia Taylor (B.S. ‘04/H&S) thrive as a student. “I was inspired by who she was—strong and independent. Obviously VCU had helped her developed her into who she was and I knew Richmond could do the same for me.”
Beyond declaring chemistry as her major and enrolling in the required courses, Jalynn wanted to be a standout candidate for industry jobs and so she aimed not just to learn chemistry but to deepen her understanding of the discipline and get involved in research. She scoured undergraduate research fairs and websites, contacting multiple faculty who ran labs and needed assistants. On the way out of her inorganic chemistry class one day, Heather Lucas, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, pulled Jalynn aside, let her know that her new research lab was up and running and she was interested in seeing more of Jalynn’s work as there would be an open position in the lab for an undergraduate researcher. Jalynn earned that spot and began working under Dr. Lucas, whose research focused on the link between Alzheimer’s and a loss of the sense of smell. The experience taught her new instrumentation, skills and how to be a contributing member of a research team.
“The graduate student I was studying under in Dr. Lucas’ lab challenged me. I wasn’t sure what he thought of my work but then, he surprised me and came in support of me at graduation.”
In her senior year, Jalynn received the Gerald and Susan Bass Scholarship Fund in Chemistry, a recognition of her hard work and merit in the discipline. In her application to be considered for the award, she wrote, “I realized that I don’t need a degree specifically in cosmetic chemistry. The chemistry degree program at VCU has given me all the fundamental knowledge I need to be successful in a laboratory working environment.”
She was right—soon after graduation, Jalynn earned an internship position with a cosmetic company. Though perfumes are what had attracted her to the field, she has since developed an interest in cosmetics. “Perfumes are all oils. Cosmetic and skin care products involve emulsion and may be more interesting in that the visual is also a large part of development.”
After her internship, Jalynn held a few temp jobs to gain more experience in emulsion technology and color matching as well as grow her industry connections. Now with Revlon in their skin care development division, Jalynn works primarily on formulating lotions, serums and gels. “I always took opportunities to learn in every role. I really love my coworkers. Every day is different.”
Now a successful alumna, Jalynn remembers the confidence earning a scholarship instilled in her and has made a gift in support of the very funds that she benefitted from as a student. “I am a huge giver. I was looking back and found my essay that I used to apply and it was on becoming a perfumer. I saw a vision and it happened and it’s great that it worked out. I just want to help someone else realize their potential like I did.”