Meet the YCC: Erin Joy Araneta

Meet Erin Joy Araneta, an advocate for education, sustainability, and social impact and author of the series The Adventures of Chemist Clara. Erin is a Member of the national Younger Chemists Committee (YCC), of which she serves on the Governance Interface & Outreach (GIO) subcommittee. Erin’s profile is part of “Meet the YCC”, a series of blog posts highlighting YCC Members and Associates and what they do both in and outside of ACS.

Erin Joy Araneta (she/her/hers)

YCC Member

YCC subcommittee: Governance Interface & Outreach (GIO)

Education
B.S., Chemistry, University of California, Irvine
M.S., Chemistry, University of Southern California

Connect: X, Instagram, LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

What motivated you to join the YCC?

What really got me excited about joining the YCC was this overwhelming feeling of wanting to give back to the chemistry community that had supported me so much. It all started at the ACS Local Section (LS) level, where I dived in headfirst, chairing our LSYCC. It was an absolute blast—I learned so much, and the joy of creating opportunities for all sorts of people, both attendees and volunteers, was unmatched.

But I didn’t want to stop there. I was so fueled by the younger chemists’ and kids’ reactions, which demonstrated the impact of volunteering and learning experiences, that I wanted to have a chance to make an even bigger impact. I joined the national YCC, driven by this burning desire to bring my own unique perspective to the mix. I want to be part of organizing events, championing awards—anything that helps younger chemists realize just how incredible they can be! Nothing gets me more fired up than helping budding scientists flourish and become the best versions of themselves.

 

This is the laboratory I worked in at the University of California, Irvine! I studied CO2 capture and conversion. Here is the rotary evaporator that I used to evaporate solvents off my chemical complex. Credit: Steve Zylius

 

What is something you want every younger chemist to know?

The worst career advice I received was to always plan for the worst. At first, it seemed like sound advice—preparing for potential challenges felt responsible and prudent. But as I took it to heart, it began to weigh heavily on me. Doubt crept in, and the constant fixation on worst-case scenarios left me feeling drained and anxious.

It was like I was constantly bracing for impact, unable to fully embrace the present or dream about the future. But then, in moments of calm reflection, I realized that always planning for the worst wasn’t serving me well. It was robbing me of the peace and clarity I needed to truly understand what I wanted from my career.

So, I made a conscious decision to shift my perspective. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, I started focusing on what truly mattered to me: my values, my career aspirations, and the kind of impact I wanted to make in my community. This change allowed me to cultivate a sense of inner peace and openness that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

By prioritizing what was important to me and embracing a more positive outlook, I found myself able to dream again, to envision a future filled with possibility rather than fear. And in doing so, I gained a newfound sense of direction and purpose in my professional journey.

Now, when faced with challenges, I approach them with a sense of calm confidence, knowing that I’m guided by my values and driven by my aspirations. It’s a far cry from the exhaustion and doubt I once felt, and it’s made all the difference in finding fulfillment and success in my career.

 

I write a children’s book series called The Adventures of Chemist Clara. It talks about the chemistry of the outdoors and follows an adventurous and curious young chemist who loves being in nature.
Credit: Zachary Schwartz

 

How has your career taken a unique or unexpected path?

My journey has been filled with challenges, but each hurdle has inspired me to explore unconventional avenues that uplift marginalized and diverse communities. Being an immigrant woman of color in STEM, I’ve experienced firsthand the importance of representation and accessibility in inspiring others. It’s deeply fulfilling to see children inspired to pursue chemistry because of my efforts, and it reaffirms my belief in the power of mentorship and outreach.

Looking ahead, I’m driven by the desire to continue empowering others to realize their potential. I envision a future where I serve as a college counselor and author, guiding students from all backgrounds to pursue their dreams with confidence. Whether through one-on-one guidance or through the pages of a book, I hope to instill in them the belief that they are capable of achieving greatness in any field they choose to pursue.

 

I love the outdoors and get fueled to continue pursuing my creative and academic work. Here is the Angels Landing hike at Zion National Park !
Credit: Caroline Bellscheidt

 

Biographical photo by Elaine Anne Araneta.

 

Article by Olivia Wilkins, Ph.D.

Olivia Wilkins is an astrochemist and NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellow at NASA Goddard. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from Caltech and a BS in Chemistry and Mathematics from Dickinson College.