A Day in the Life of Seth Reed ‘21

Seth Reed ’21 knew he’d found his major of choice when he started to research Chemical Engineering. His love of AP Chemistry and Project Lead the Way classes in high school and a strong interest in sustainability and the environment made the program a natural fit for his interests and goals.

As a senior in Syracuse’s College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), Seth has also found ways to incorporate his interest in sports and music into his busy academic schedule. Learn how Seth manages to balance his many interests and discover what it’s like to be an ECS senior as Seth takes us through a typical weekday on campus!

Seth '21 has served as an Orientation Leader for new Syracuse students for the past three years. Photo courtesy of Seth Reed.
Seth ’21 has served as an Orientation Leader for new Syracuse students for the past three years. Photo courtesy of Seth Reed.

Meet Seth Reed ‘21
Schenectady, NY
Chemical Engineering

7:30 a.m.
I’m a fairly early riser, so I tend to wake up between 7 and 7:30. I like to catch up on homework or work out before starting my day. I live off campus with friends in the University neighborhood, so it’s easy to get a run in and grab breakfast before heading to class!

9:30 a.m.
My first class of the day is Chemical Reactor Design with Dr. Jesse Bond. In this class we utilize principles of fluid dynamics to study and create reactors.

I’ve designed my schedule so that I have a 9:30 a.m. class every morning. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I am in class most of the day, but Tuesdays and Thursdays are much lighter. This semester, in addition to Chemical Reactor Design, I’m also taking Heat and Mass Operations, Thermodynamics II, Chemical Engineering Lab II, Writing 307: Professional Writing and Beer and Wine Appreciation!

11:00 a.m.
When I’m not in class, I can often be found in the research lab in the basement of Link Hall (home of the College of Engineering and Computer Science).

Seth '21 is a member of a team on campus that is conducting research on lithium-ion batteries.
Seth ’21 is a member of a team on campus that is conducting research on lithium-ion batteries.

I’ve been lucky to have several research opportunities while at Syracuse, and right now I am working with Dr. Ian Hosein on a project that considers alternatives to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. We are interested in learning if we can create a more sustainable and affordable alternative and recently had a paper published in the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry!

3:00 p.m.
Depending on the day, I may stop by and log a few hours in the Shaw Center, Syracuse’s hub for community engagement. At the Shaw Center I serve as a program coordinator for Engineering Ambassadors, an organization that works with local middle school students to promote interest in STEM fields.

Seth '21 is a member of the Men's Club Volleyball team. Photo courtesy of Seth Reed.
Seth ’21 is a member of the Men’s Club Volleyball team. Photo courtesy of Seth Reed.

I’ve also served as an Orientation Leader for the past three years in the Office of First-Year and Transfer Programs. This year I was the Head Orientation Leader for Becoming Orange, the week of programming we put on for new students as they move in and transition to campus!

6:00 p.m.
In the afternoons and evenings after class, I’m typically either at volleyball practice with Syracuse’s Men’s Club Volleyball Team, studying in the Noble Room in Hendricks Chapel, or hanging out with friends. I also like to play piano in my spare time and I even perform off campus at Abundant Life Christian Center.

Lately I’ve also been spending much of my evenings preparing my application for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). I’m planning to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical or materials engineering after graduation!

Exploring Environment through Engineering with Cameron Edwards ‘21

Senior College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) student, Cameron Edwards ’21, didn’t always know she wanted to study Environmental Engineering, or that she’d end up with a minor in Food Studies. Read on to learn more about how Cameron was able to explore her interests and the environment as a student at Syracuse!

Senior Cameron Edwards ’21 poses with Otto in front of the Hall of Languages. Photo courtesy of Cameron Edwards.

Meet Cameron Edwards ’21
Ketchikan, Alaska
Environmental Engineering
Food Studies
Favorite Spot on Campus: 4th Floor of Link Hall

What made you choose to attend Syracuse?
I visited Syracuse during the spring break of my senior year of high school. During my visit I met with two Environmental Engineering professors and I was blown away that they took the time to really get to know me and my interests. One of those professors is my advisor and the other I’ve been doing research with since my first semester on campus!

The emphasis on collaboration in an engineering program was also really important to me as I didn’t want to feel as if I was competing with my peers. Being from Alaska, I had also really wanted a white winter which I’ve definitely gotten as well!

How did your interest in Environmental Engineering develop?
In high school I didn’t have a lot of exposure to what engineering was but knew I liked math, science, and being outdoors.

I actually applied to every other college except Syracuse as a Chemical Engineering major and planned on minoring in Environmental Engineering. Before starting my first semester on campus, I was planning to change my major to Chemical Engineering because of my interest in chemistry. I later learned there is a lot of chemistry involved in Environmental Engineering and I really liked the faculty so decided to stay put!

Cameron Edwards ’21 in the soil science laboratory on campus. Photo courtesy of Cameron Edwards.

My major is fairly small – there are about 20 students in my cohort (seniors). This has been really nice as we’re small enough to have a group chat with all of us so we can collaborate and we have small class sizes. I also have so much love for the faculty because they genuinely care about each of us, an example being when one of my professors sophomore year emailed me after the large earthquake in Alaska to ask if my family was okay.

You’re a Food Studies minor. How does that connect to your engineering interest?
I really like to cook and I started to become interested in where my food comes from, which has led to an interest in sustainable agriculture. Agriculture in its current state tends to do a lot of damage to the climate and the environment, which is something environmental engineers deal with, through things like agricultural runoff. However, agriculture is not really focused on in the environmental engineering curriculum. I chose to minor in food studies to learn a bit more about this area. I also have a personal interest in food injustice and food insecurity which the Food Studies program (housed in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics) does a real good job of exploring.

What are you involved in outside of the classroom?
I’m in the Renee Crown Honors Program at Syracuse, which has some great perks including an honors residence learning community, access to special honors-specific courses and the ability to register for classes early. I’ve also taken two honors versions of general education courses: Chemistry 109 and Writing 209. I really enjoyed these because of their smaller class sizes where I felt much more comfortable asking questions.

I also work in a soil science laboratory with Professor Chris Johnson. We examine soil chemistry and weathering in a long-term ecological research forest in New Hampshire. The summer after my freshman year I stayed in Syracuse to continue my research. Part of the summer was spent away from Syracuse soil sampling in New Hampshire which was such an amazing experience. I was able to have extended one-on-one conversations with my research advisor, his lab manager, and the graduate student that helped us sample. It was also really great to experience Syracuse during the summertime and something I’d recommend to any student.

Cameron Edwards ’21 on a helicopter ride during her internship with the US Forest Service. Photo courtesy of Cameron Edwards.

This most recent summer I interned with the United States Forest Service Chugach National Forest in Anchorage, Alaska. I had known I wanted something in the public sector, so I applied through the federal government website USAJOBS. I got a lot of help from the career services putting together my resume because it was the first job I had ever applied for! Despite COVID-19 I was able to do a lot of fieldwork for the job, which included a helicopter ride to survey one of the radio communication sites and some hikes to see the trails and recreation sites for which I’m writing proposals.

What is your dream job?
I really enjoy the idea of working in the public sector as well as being outdoors, so I’m hoping to eventually be a forest engineer with the Forest Service. I really like helping increase the public’s experience in the outdoors through recreation because I’ve found that’s been one of the defining activities of my own life. I’d like to help as many people as I can experience what I have!

Cameron Edwards ’21 and her research team collecting data in New Hampshire. Photo courtesy of Cameron Edwards.

I feel very prepared for my post-graduate goals and find what I learn in class useful. During my internship this summer I did some job shadowing at a clean-up site where there had been some gasoline dumping. At the site they were doing soil and water sampling and I was able to use what I learned in my geotechnical and water resources classes to help me understand the site and the work that was being done there.

What do you do for fun?
I haven’t had a car on campus so one of my favorite ways of getting off campus is the programs that Orange After Dark and Recreation Services provides. Orange After Dark holds events for movie premieres, bowling, paint nights, and similar events for only $3 which includes transportation to and from the event as well as the event itself. Recreation Services puts on great outdoor programs like apple picking, white water rafting, and skiing also at a low rate which has been a super fun way for me and my friends to see more of Upstate New York!

Bridging the Gap between Engineering and Geography

Simone stands in a research laboratory, with a lab bench behind her and glassware displayed to her left

When Simone Burns came to Syracuse, she knew she wanted to major in Environmental Engineering. During her time here, she found her passion at the intersection of engineering and geography.

What sparked your interest in geography, in addition to engineering?

During my freshman year, I took a class called World Cultures. I never took a class like that in high school – it wasn’t just about cultures. It was also an introduction to the geographical principles of space, place, how we fit within them, and how we interpret or use them. For example, we talked about living rooms, and I really enjoyed thinking about how people from different cultures use the same space in different ways.

Later on, I took a geography class and learned about mapping technology. Using geographic information systems (GIS), you can pull together different kinds of data to create layered maps. I was able to take what I was learning in class and apply it in a real, physical way. For example, the class made maps of all the places we frequently visited on campus. When we put the maps together, we saw that the routes, represented by lines, were different for every person; everyone had different patterns. I remember thinking, “oh, I could see myself doing a lot more with this.”

Indeed, you have done more! Can you explain how you continued to work with GIS?

Most recently, I used GIS for my senior design project. There were about 20 different topics that students could choose from, including GIS, which I immediately signed up for. Our assignment was to solve a problem about bike lanes: there were only three bike lanes near campus, but many people bike around our campus, and there was a need for an online resource.

First, we researched the existing bike lanes around campus. We found that a lot of people could use the existing lanes to get to campus, but once they reached main campus they would share the roadways with buses and zig-zag around pedestrians on the sidewalk. It’s dangerous for everyone involved, but where else could the bikers go?

To get ideas for how to solve this problem, we teamed up with an advisor from Syracuse’s Office of Sustainability, researched bike lanes on other college campuses, took a close look at the bike lanes in the City of Syracuse, and surveyed the people who use them. We needed a lot of information: What kind of bike lanes do people prefer? How could we signify that a lane is intended for bikers? Where do people typically bike while they’re on campus? Where are the bike racks? What other resources do they use?

We decided to collaborate with the University to create an interactive map that bikers can use to plan their trips to, from, and around campus. The map will tell them where the bike lanes and bike racks are, along with places of interest like restaurants, lockers, or places to take a shower. We started out with nothing, at ground zero, and had to build all of those maps with buildings, bike racks, and bike lanes – everything someone would need when mapping out a route.

This project was a manifestation of both my majors, with geography influencing engineering and vice versa. I had to think about the engineering and technical aspects of building the maps, but also think, “okay, from a social aspect, how do we interact with the space?” I have learned that you can’t just think technically to create a design; there are so many other factors that go into it.

Simone and four other students stand in front of a research poster
Simone’s senior design team of civil and environmental engineering students called Green Path. From Left to Right: Simone Burns (Project Manager), Yuanyuan Wang (Design Analyst), Kimberly Fitzgerald (GIS Analyst), Lilin Liu (Design Analyst), and Hope Bartlett (Data Analyst).

It sounds like this project was a fantastic learning experience. What are your next steps?

After graduation, I participated in a short-term study abroad class called Asiatech. I visited and learned from various tech companies in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. After the trip, I began my current internship with SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Physical Plant Department; I am digitizing and modeling their hospital buildings using 2D and 3D drawing software. After my internship, I will pursue my Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL where I will conduct research using GIS to improve transportation and evacuation routes in Florida.

Simone dressed in her graduation gown, holding her graduation cap, with the hall of languages and flowering trees in the background

Abroad for a Cause

Caitlin Grimm: bottom row, far right

Over winter break, Caitlin Grimm, a Syracuse sophomore, traveled to Honduras to volunteer with other students as part of the Global Medical Brigade. I sat down with Cait to talk about her unique experience.

What is your major/ dream job?

I am a Biology major, Chemistry minor and IT minor. When it comes to my dream job, I have a few different levels of dream job–my “within reach” dream job, my “a bit of a stretch” dream job, and my “reach for the stars” dream job. My “within reach” dream job is to be a clinical pharmacist (a pharmacist in a hospital setting). I love working with people, and so this setting would allow me to meet and help more people than if I worked in a retail pharmacy. My “a bit of a stretch” dream job would involve me going back to school to get my MBA, then working in pharmaceutical administration.  My “reach for the stars” dream job involves me starting my own company that works in health care reform.

How did you find out about this trip and what inspired you to go?

I found out about this trip through friends of mine who had gone on trips with the Global Medical Brigade organization before. One of those friends has since graduated, and now actually works for Global Medical Brigades in Nicaragua. I was inspired to go because of the incredible stories I had heard from them, but also because, I’ve always wanted to bring medical assistance to third-world countries, and so this was the perfect opportunity to start getting involved.

What were you most excited about and what were you most nervous about?

I was most excited about meeting the members of the community. I’ve never been to another country before (except Canada), so I was really excited to immerse myself in a completely different culture. I was nervous about a few things, mainly about speaking the language. I took Spanish in high school, but it had been so long since I’d spoken it that I wasn’t sure how well I’d remember.

Have you gone abroad before/ planning on studying abroad? How was this experience different that a typical study abroad trip?

Unfortunately, I haven’t studied abroad. However, I’ve had many friends who have, and I can tell you that an experience like mine is very different from studying abroad. First of all, it’s much shorter (one week compared to a whole semester). The experiences are very different because you don’t get to do as much on a trip like mine. The most significant difference though is the pure nature of the trips. Studying abroad is an amazing experience, but it’s very tourism-based. My experience was about as non-touristy as you can get, considering we were working in remote villages in the mountains of Honduras. It’s also a trip that eventually ends up helping and affecting so many people in the communities we worked in. I don’t mean to be cliche, but the feeling that comes with helping others is completely incomparable to anything else, and it is what made the trip so special.

What was something that surprised or intrigued you about Honduran culture?

The Honduran culture is so incredibly different from American culture in that almost everything I experienced in Honduras surprised me in one way or another. For example, it is not customary in Honduran culture to brush your teeth. This might not sound like a huge deal, but it actually causes major health problems. One of the main exports of Honduras is sugar cane, so all food containing sugar in Honduras contains pure cane sugar. This leads to the rapid development of cavities, and without dentists or teeth-brushing habits, untreated cavities can lead to infection and even death if the infection spreads through the body. Finding out things like this really opened my eyes and inspired me to want to continue working in communities like this for the rest of my life.

What is your favorite memory from the trip?

My favorite memory from the trip was working in a station called “Charla” in the medical clinics we set up. We worked with the children after they went  to the medical and dental stations and taught them healthy habits, like the importance of a balanced diet or how to brush their teeth. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but working with the children was so unbelievably heart-warming, and seeing the looks on their faces when we gave them their first tooth-brushes was something I’ll never forget. Most of these children don’t have anything to call their own, and their hugs of appreciation made the whole trip worth it. But even more rewarding than all of that was knowing that what we taught them would have a positive impact on the rest of their lives. This made me feel like we had left our mark on the community and that we would continue to influence these people’s lives, even after we were gone.

Do you have any suggestions for students who want to do a service trip?

I could talk for hours about service trips, but here are my top 3 suggestions:

  • Make sure you go on a trip with a reputable organization. There are many credible organizations you can go through, and there are multiple groups at Syracuse that organize student trips, but I have nothing but amazing things to say about the Global Medical Brigades organization that I went through. The local chapter at Syracuse is run by really incredible people and globally they are a very well-respected.  
  • Know all of your options for fundraising. Financing a trip like this can be a burden for some, but there are many ways to raise money and make the cost much more manageable. There are multiple options when it comes to fundraising, but I chose to go through a site called “”, which works directly with the Global Medical Brigade.  I sent out the link to my page to all of my friends and family around Christmas and asked for donations in lieu of gifts.
  • Make sure you have medicine just in case. The one thing I neglected to bring with me that I wish I had was cold medicine. Because of the drastic change in climate between New York in the winter and Honduras, I ended up feeling under the weather for a few days, and that was the last thing I wanted to be worrying about while on such an amazing adventure.

Three words to describe your experience?

Inspiring, fulfilling, joyful.


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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