Environmental Niche

Alt TextRachel Hoesly

Rachel Hoesly

Rachel Hoesly found her niche as a Carnegie Mellon University undergraduate — and liked it so much she’s staying for a Ph.D.

“I like big picture problems — looking at entire systems,” said Hoesly (E’10,’11), now a civil and environmental engineering doctoral student.

“The environment is the ultimate interconnected system,” she explained. “Every decision we make has some environmental implication, so it's an interesting point of view to bring to any problem.”

Hoesly’s research involves analyzing long-term, historical data for the purpose of future sustainability planning. She is currently completing a project involving Allegheny County’s carbon emission trends and their relation to greenhouse gas reduction policy.

“Our results challenge the feasibility of reaching aggressive emissions reduction rates given current support resources,” she said. “Given years of major technological, economic, and demographic changes, per capita emissions in 1940 were nearly the same in 2000.”

Hoesly was recently named one of the first recipients of the Steinbrenner Institute U.S. Environmental Sustainability Fellowship. The three-year award is given for the exploration of how population change impacts natural resource availability and quality of life.

“I initially came to CMU for its interdisciplinary engineering program,” said the Los Angeles native. She has earned degrees in both civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy. “I also wanted a smaller school with professors who are as dedicated to teaching as they are to their research.”

“Through my projects and classes, I found my research niche with advisors that I really enjoy. There aren't many other programs of the same caliber at other schools.”

And those professors became an integral part of her experience.

“Faculty mentors were and are the most influential part of my education at CMU,” she said. “I wouldn't be as excited as I am to be here if I didn't feel their support. Not only are they teaching me technical skills, they're teaching me how to be a great researcher.”

While Hoesly hasn’t yet narrowed down her post-education plans, she’s confident of the outcome.

“I know I am in the right place, with the right people, getting the right experience to continue my work on projects with people that will make a difference.”

Related Links: Engineering & Public Policy | Civil & Environmental Engineering | Steinbrenner Institute | Environment at CMU

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