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Finding His Scientific Passion

Senior Aleks Siemenn is leading research presentations at two upcoming national conferences. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 20, 2018) – Aleks Siemenn is passionate about science.

But he never imagined that passion would lead to presenting at two national conferences before finishing his undergraduate degree.

Siemenn, a senior and dual major in environmental science and mathematics, is gearing up to attend the winter meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Dec. 10-14 in Washington, D.C., and the annual American Meteorological Society (AMS) meeting Jan. 6-10, 2019, in Phoenix.

He will be presenting his capstone undergraduate research project at both conferences.

“These conferences bring together scientists, educators and students from around the globe,” said Siemenn, who is also minoring in physics and economics. “It’s a little overwhelming when you think about it. But I am very excited.”

“Being chosen to present your research at such prestigious conferences is a big deal and something that Aleks should be very proud of,” added Chris Thorncroft, chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES). “It will be a fantastic opportunity for him to share his results with leaders in the international community."

Siemenn is one of seven students selected nationwide as a winner of AGU’s Data Visualization and Storytelling Competition. While attending the AGU conference, he will present his research at NASA’s hyperwall, a grouping of high-definition screens capable of displaying data visualizations and images.

As a competition winner, Siemenn also receives travel support for both upcoming conferences. In addition, he is the recipient of the 2018 David E. Lumley Young Scientist Scholarship, which includes more conference travel support and a college scholarship.

A Sustainable Engineer

UAlbany senior Aleks Siemenn displays his computer modeling software to simulate the viability of oscillating water column systems as a renewable energy source.

Siemenn displays his code for analyzing oscillating water systems. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

Siemenn uses computer modeling to simulate the viability of oscillating water column systems (OWCs) as a renewable energy source. OWCs are installed on rocky shorelines and generate electricity from oceanic wave movement.

In his research project, Siemenn looks at the energy potential and environmental impacts of OWCs at a number of potential sites along New England’s eastern coast.

“My research can be best summarized as a way to quantify the potential of OWCs before they are installed,” he said. “These systems have interesting physics behind them and many factors that go into optimizing energy generation.”

“Continued investment in research and development of renewable energy systems is critical to a sustainable future.”

Student Research Ambassador

While attending UAlbany, Siemenn has held a number of undergraduate research positions that focus on energy and sustainable development, incorporating a wide range of disciplines.

He is also a student ambassador for UAlbany’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (CURCE), which serves as a resource for undergraduate students interested in finding research, scholarship, and creative activities that match their academic interests and career goals.

“Aleks has been an enthusiastic member of the CURCE Ambassador team. His research portfolio is expansive, and has highlighted that it is never too late or too early to engage in research while at UAlbany," said Jeanette Altarriba, vice provost and dean for Undergraduate Education. "What has been impressive is that he instinctively wants to help other students. He has taken part in workshops this semester and is helping us to identity ways to engage students across all academic majors.”

“For Aleks to receive these opportunities shows what our students are capable of when they engage in experiential learning, particularly, undergraduate research.”

Siemenn was awarded the University at Albany Foundation’s Vincent '77 & Carol '78 Endowed Scholarship last year to support his studies. The recipient must demonstrate academic excellence in environmental science.

He is set to graduate next May and plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree in marine engineering.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.