Emily Wallace '21 discusses her experience with the winter term class Art Museum Curating, taught by Professo...
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Galesburg, IL 61401
Ph.D. Candidate in Interdisciplinary Engineering, Northeastern University
Major in Mathematics, Minor in Environmental Studies
What have you been up to since Knox?
I moved to Rochester, New York, where I started in the Sustainable Engineering Master of Science program. I was frightened to start an engineering program since I had no explicit engineering undergraduate background. But Knox had taught me to be a problem solver: just because I don’t know how to do something now doesn’t mean I can’t figure it out. I ended up loving the program and did my thesis on life cycle assessments of non-traditional product use/disposal phases.
At the same time, I was working as a graduate assistant to the College Panhellenic Council pulling on my experience as a Pi Phi at Knox. I advised all local sororities and oversaw recruitment. It was a fun continuation of my previous involvement with Greek life.
Since 2016, I have been enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate in interdisciplinary engineering, which is nestled in the Environmental Engineering Department. I study climate science, climate extremes, climate forecasting, and ultimately those impacts on people. Because climate science has become so politicized, I have worked on refocusing the climate problem to be one of a security issue. (Warner recently won a first place prize for graduate research on enhancing resilient infrastructure from the Department of Homeland Security and a second place prize from the Homeland Security Advisory Council in Los Angeles.)
What led to your interest in interdisciplinary engineering?
My primary interest in it is to incorporate a multitude of disciplines as part of proposed engineering solutions. The STEM field, in general, tends to be very siloed. If we do not consider extraneous implications of our proposed solutions and if we do not consider the community reactions and the impacts to people, then ultimately our solutions are not real solutions.
How has your Knox experience impacted your career path?
The excellent liberal arts education provided at Knox has allowed me to excel in my academic research. Having taken political science courses, Gender and Women's Studies courses, language courses, and other classes outside of my major gave me a broader mind with which to find solutions to global problems. While I work as an engineer, I also am affiliated with the Global Resilience Institute in Boston where most employees and student researchers are in the humanities and social science fields. Knox gave me the skills to communicate across academic fields and various backgrounds.
What surprised you about Knox?
The thing that probably surprised me most at Knox was the close relationships that exist between the faculty, staff, and students. The idea that no exams were proctored and I could take my test in a quieter, more relaxed open space shows just how much trust mutually exists between professors and students. These relationships extend beyond classrooms and beyond the professor-student relationship. I was surprised that many students were on a first-name basis with many staff members. It all just goes to show that “We Are Knox” extends to everyone, not just the students alone.