Engineering & Applied Sciences

Alumni Profile

Ben Yezer

ben yezerBS chemical engineering '11

(Pursuing PhD at Carnegie Mellon University)

Occupation: PhD graduate student
Residence: Pittsburgh, PA

What memories do you have of your Keidaean year?

My favorite Keidaean memories include meeting older Keidaean alums at the President's House and the ceremony we held in the middle of the quad at night to induct the next class of Keidaeans. I hope the ceremonial induction tradition is still going on.

What were a few of the organizations, activities or pursuits you were involved in at the University of Rochester? Tell us about your experience in your favorite activity.

I was a four-year member of the football team, an officer of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, a member of the Saint Sebastian Society (I hope that is still around), volunteer for the "Science Buddy" program, and assistant treasurer of the investment club Meliora Capital Management.  My favorite activity had to be football because it was how I spent the majority of my time. My experience as a student-athlete was extremely difficult, requiring late nights studying just to ride the bench most of the season, but football also gave me some of my closest lifelong friends and most of my fondest Rochester memories.

Who were your honorary faculty and staff Keidaeans?

I believe Professor Douglas Brooks was our honorary faculty member, but I forget our honorary staff member.  I remember nominating Dean Burgett as an honorary Keidaean, but he was elected multiple times in the past so we decided on Prof. Brooks.

What advice do you have for the current class of Keidaeans?

In your final weeks before graduation many students can worry about their future, but I urge you to relax and enjoy every final moment of your experience in Rochester.  Find the time to complete everything remaining on your "Rochester bucket list" and be sure to reach to a wide group of friends before you leave school.  You will never know where you will end up after graduation, but the chances are good that wherever you are another U of R alum will be close by so get to know as many as you can.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

After graduation I moved to Pittsburgh in the fall to start a five-year PhD program at Carnegie Mellon University and lived with two other Rochester alums that were also starting graduate programs in Pittsburgh.  I decided on graduate school because I knew I wanted to try to do scientific research which often requires a PhD.  I also received good advice from Professor Jorne in the ChemE department that I would be a good candidate for graduate school.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

During my time at Rochester I developed a strong interest in clean energy research which drove me to pursue a PhD in chemical engineering. The changing political and economic landscape in America has caused a significant shift in the focus of energy research away from wind, solar, and fuel cells towards cleaner oil technology coupled with carbon sequestration. Due to these factors my research interests have turned to fundamental research of oil systems for the cleaner, more efficient use of oils.

How do you continue embodying the spirit of Meliora, ever better, in your daily life?

"Meliora" has been an important motto to me since my time at Rochester and has driven my interests in research.

How do you remain connected with the rest of your Keidaeans class and other Keidaeans around the world? How do you remain connected with the University of Rochester?

Going back to campus for Meliora Weekend is the best way that I stay in touch with the campus and Keidaean community. The alumni association has also held events in Pittsburgh that I have attended as well as attending the Rochester basketball games when they play at Carnegie Mellon once a year.

Anything you wish you had pursued in college but could not for one reason or another?

I wish I studied abroad in college. I figured that it would have been too difficult to complete degree requirements and work the football season, but in retrospect it definitely was possible if I looked into it more.