Consider what technology is for. It is meant to benefit humanity. By this I do not refer to the short-term benefits gained by exploiting nature for material gains. It has always been my belief that the true way that humanity benefits in the long term is by creating and maintaining a sustainable technological and ecological civilization, where humanity can flourish in conjunction with technology and nature, instead of exploiting or sacrificing one element for another.
I began to harbor inklings of this belief in my freshman year. As a member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, every Saturday, I took the train from my house in New Jersey to Philadelphia. The train always passed by a junkyard packed with scrapped cars with skeleton shells, cast aside after their main body had been melted down for recycling. What a waste, I thought, looking out the window. Was there no way to recycle the cars without going through the process of melting them down completely, an energy-intensive process that contributed to global warming? Was there no way to take advantage of the complexity of materials and their properties to help the human civilization to be more sustainable in the ever-renewing ecological system that it is but a part of? These were questions with no easy answers, but the difficulty of answering them did not mean that they had no merit.
This summer, I was finally able to answer some of the questions I asked myself as I looked out at the graveyard of scrapped cars. In a research internship in a lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I directly focused on the properties of metallic compounds that pertained to their viability in sustainable recycling, and the application to the environment.
I hope to pursue my research interest in material science and its practical applications in Cornell, eventually going on to get a doctorate in the field and actively work as an experimental researcher. It is my belief that the interdisciplinary nature of the College of Human Ecology offers the perfect environment for me to pursue this dream, as it lets me explore multiple fields of study, thanks to its integrative and flexible curriculum. The wide spectrum of subjects being taught at this college is of especial importance to my future plans because human technology and its place in the universe is such a complex model that no single branch of physical, environmental, or social science could pin it down without working in conjunction with multiple fields of study. Furthermore, one of the biggest draws to Cornell’s Human Ecology is the Cornell Cooperative Extension Summer Internship Program(CCE). This will present me with the much-needed hands-on experience as I advance further in my research career, providing me with the opportunity for practical and in-depth research.