5 Questions: Energy policy interest leads to undergraduate research award

5 Questions: Energy policy interest leads to undergraduate research award
5 Questions: Energy policy interest leads to undergraduate research award

This week’s 5 Questions Friday features Tyler Swanson, ACE major with environmental economics & policy concentration

Where did you grow up? Do you have an agriculture background? If so, please describe.

I grew up in Pecatonica, Illinois. While my hometown is rural, and many of the residents have agricultural background I personally did not. That said, I have a deep love for the countryside, and I hope I can use my education to one day give back to Pecatonica.

What has been your favorite class at ACES?

My favorite class in ACES so far has been ACE 310: Natural Resource Economics. This was the first substantive course I took in my agricultural and consumer economics major. This class helped me realize that I was in the right place at Illinois and helped me get interested in energy policy, something I now do research on in my free time.

Who is your favorite professor (or instructor), and why?

ACE 310 is also where I met my favorite instructor and mentor, Dr. Renata Endres. Dr. Endres has continually supported me in my independent research endeavors, mentoring an independent study in which I wrote a paper on energy policy and submitted it to a journal for publication. This paper also won the ACE Department’s Undergraduate Research Award, a prize typically reserved for junior and senior students, as a sophomore. It takes a special kind of academic to be so willing to take an undergraduate under her wing, and I am grateful for the knowledge and experience Dr. Endres has helped me attain.

What advice about college do you have for high school students?

My biggest piece of advice for high school students is to accept that their educational and career plans will almost definitely change as they progress through their college experience, and that it’s okay. I initially applied to the University of Illinois to study Business Management, and I had Agricultural & Consumer Economics with a Public Policy & Law concentration as my backup. When I was accepted into ACE and began taking classes, I quickly realized how much I loved the ACES community and how happy I was to have been accepted for my second choice. I pictured myself going to law school after graduation and becoming a lawyer or politician, but in my second semester as a freshman I realized that my real interest was environmental policy, and I then switched my concentration to Environmental Economics & Policy with the intention of being an academic researcher. In summary, not everyone’s path is linear, and that is a good thing! 

Why should more students check out ACES?

I have found ACES to be the ultimate academic experience and I highly encourage all prospective students to consider the different majors and courses offered in this college. I think the beauty of ACES is that it takes so many different academic disciplines: Economics, policy, chemistry, biology, and more, and applies them all to agriculture and the environment. I find this applied learning gives ACES students an advantage over other students because we are able to see exactly how the subjects we are learning are employed to solve real-world issues.