Hometown: Chelsea, Quebec, Canada
BS, Environmental Engineering, Saint Francis University
PhD Candidate, Environmental Engineering, USC
I chose to pursue my PhD at USC mainly because of my advisor and her extraordinary visions for potential research projects, but also because of the amazing amount of flexibility I am allowed as a PhD student here. I am able to research a very interdisciplinary project because I have been able to take classes and seek advice from professors in many different departments not only in the Viterbi School of Engineering, but in other areas of the University as well. So far, I have felt encouraged to strive for truly unique and scientifically relevant research with the support of my fellow students, my advisor, and my Engineering department.
I was most surprised about the strong sense of community here at USC. I came from a very small undergraduate institution and was afraid of being lost in the crowd here in Los Angeles, but I have experienced the complete opposite. I have made many new friends who come from all over the world and have genuinely enjoyed integrating myself into the PhD community within the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as well as many other non-academic communities at the University.
I work on evaluating the impact of future changes in climate – such as rising air and water temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, shifts in storm intensities and rising sea level – on the resiliency and reliability of the Western electricity grid. These future changes in our climate have adverse impacts on the power generation sector and often impose complex feedback loops that have not been modeled with scientific rigor. Considering that electricity is critical to maintaining quality of life, human health, and a safe food and water supply, understanding the scale of potential challenges is critical to ensuring a reliable power grid.
My biggest influence here at USC has undoubtedly been my advisor, Dr. Kelly Sanders. Not only has she been an incredible source of information and guidance throughout my time at USC, she has also served as the basis for my personal support system. The relationship between myself and my advisor is one that I treasure greatly. Although she has helped me immensely in my academic career, I would argue that she has had a much greater impact on my personal growth and development, even if she doesn’t know it!
I spend most of my free time training with the club triathlon team here at USC. I joined the team when I first came to USC and haven’t looked back! I was a varsity swimmer as an undergraduate and have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of learning how to exercise on land. On top of meeting many talented and interesting new friends, participating in this club sport has helped me maintain a great work-life balance.
There are so many great things about being a grad student in LA! My favorite things include the incredible food, the eclectic neighborhoods, the beaches, and the lovely, sunny weather, of course!
The dreaded graduation question…How I wish that I was confident enough to say that I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I graduate and where I wanted to do it! Ultimately, I dream of having a job where I am able to contribute to the improvement of our lives and the life of our planet. Although I haven’t decided on a career path, I would say that I am most excited about researching as a scientist or as a professor.