Engineering at Rice: Lily Lee

#Academics

Supportive, dynamic, and collaborative. Those are the three words I would use to describe Rice’s research environment. Coming into college my freshman year I was eager (another word for stressed out of my mind) to find a research position in the many labs and centers. Now, I am a sophomore majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering and have had the opportunity to get involved in a variety of research areas. In the environmental engineering field, I’ve worked on research and development at the Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment Center and laboratory-based research in environmental nanotechnology. I loved chatting with experienced PhD students about the science behind these projects and applying my critical thinking skills in developing experiments and processing data.

Back of female student's head, talking to her female research associate, who is facing the camera and wearing black.
Female student wearing red crewneck standing in front of white board with colorful words and diagrams.

I now intern at the Center for Energy Studies (CES) with the Baker Institute of Public Policy combining my interests in the environment and public policy with my background in engineering. I was first exposed to the nuances of the energy industry through taking CEVE 307: Energy and the Environment with Dr. Dan Cohan. The course not only taught me about the fundamentals of energy, but also gave me the opportunity to work closely with a Houston-based energy company on a practical techno-economic analysis of a potential fuel production pathway. It was through this experience that I became familiar with using the life cycle assessment framework for evaluating carbon-emissions. This just so happened to become a valuable skill I am now able to bring to the table in my project at the CES.

Female student wearing red crewneck standing outside of the Baker Institute, with the fountain behind her.

My current project is a comprehensive report discussing the Electric Vehicle ecosystem through a life-cycle assessment framework - which I was able to help develop using the knowledge I’d gained from my work in CEVE 307. I love how truly interdisciplinary this job is and that I am able to apply my engineering thinking, creativity and communication skills at work. To my surprise, I’ve found that my research in federal and state PVC use regulations, EV incentives, and energy economics and policy has also helped me succeed in a number of my engineering classes. Much like the plethora of opportunities at Rice, my work at the CES has helped me grow my skills holistically. 

- Lily L., Will Rice '25

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