Student Spotlight – Aidan Cecchetti
Five Questions with:
Name: Aidan Cecchetti
Advisor: David Sedlak
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
WHERE DID YOU DO YOUR UNDERGRAD/MASTERS AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE UC BERKELEY?
I did my undergrad at University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH and I applied to the M.S./Ph.D. program at Berkeley through CEE when I was a senior. There were a bunch of different reasons I chose Berkeley – location (i.e., wanting to take an opportunity to live outside of NH/New England while I was young), department/research group culture (I got the feeling from visiting and talking to people that research was more relaxed here than a lot of other places I was considering) and the type of research being done here (Berkeley is one of few places that does a really good job of integrating natural/ecological engineering with mechanical approaches to environmental engineering). Also, a large part of the reason I chose Berkeley was because I’ve always been impressed by how a public university can maintain a spot as one of the top research institutions in the country, not just in our field, but more generally in the sciences and I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve always wanted to be as supportive as possible of public education because it’s so important, not to mention the fact that my own experiences with private institutions have always left me with a bad taste in my mouth (for example, when I was applying to undergrad and found that private institutions tended to be far less generous, despite their enormous resources, than comparable public institutions – though I recognize this personal experience is not necessarily born out statistically).
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING?
I really enjoy field research and feel much more exhilarated when I know I have a day ahead of me out in the field, whereas I often dread the days that I know will be spent entirely in the laboratory.
IF YOU COULD MAKE A GROUNDBREAKING DISCOVERY OR CHANGE A SYSTEM IN THE WORLD OF WATER RESEARCH, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
When I started my career in environmental engineering, I wasn’t planning on going in the direction of water research and was much more interested in climate change. If I could pair a discovery that relates wastewater treatment to something that combats climate change – some super effective carbon sequestration technology, for example – that would be ideal for me.
WHAT’S THE MOST EXCITING CHALLENGE YOU’VE TACKLED WHILE STUDYING AT UC BERKELEY?
I think the most fun research challenge I’ve had at UC Berkeley has definitely been mapping out elemental cycles at my field site.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
I’m not all that sure, but I think I want to be doing something related to research, maybe back on the East Coast with my family.