Student Spotlight: Cody Castle
Cody Castle initially attended a conservatory college to pursue the arts.
After deciding that wasn’t the career he wanted, Castle visited his high school counselor, who advised him about enrolling at College of DuPage. And Castle, who initially wanted to pursue a biology degree, took chemistry to fulfill a prerequisite.
“Chemistry and I have had our ups and downs. When I first took chemistry in high school, I actually had to retake it, but I didn’t let that define me,” he said. “It wasn’t until I began an understanding of more advanced chemistry and how current research is using chemistry as a tool for solving today’s global problems that I saw the possibilities of what I could do with my chemistry knowledge.”
Castle also was impressed with the knowledge of the College of DuPage faculty.
“I have found professors who really have a niche in research and their fields. They have inspired and challenged me to make the same of myself both inside and outside the classroom. From staying in their offices and participating in online science seminars with me to allowing me to be an assistant on an international biological field course, the dedicated faculty members are what make COD a great environment for me. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be the person I am today.”
In 2014, Castle participated in a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Northwestern University’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). He researched methods and materials to separate and capture carbon dioxide directly from coal power plants, its largest emitting source.
“I was able to befriend many other undergraduates from across the globe, graduate students, Northwestern faculty and researchers at Argonne National Lab. In the end, our program had a symposium where we each got to give a presentation on our results at the university. It was by far my best summer yet,” he said.
In addition to his classroom work, Castle was a member of the Student Leadership Council, Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors program, and he was an assistant teacher in a COD field biology course, “Animal Research in the Field: An Introduction,” with Professor James Ludden.
In 2015, Castle was the first COD student to be accepted to participate in NASA’s Community College Aerospace Scholars program. The program focused on Mars, and for five weeks, Castle completed four modules via distance learning as well as a final project that involved planning a Mars mission and designing a 3D rover model. The best overall students nationally were selected to travel to a NASA field center, and Castle was one of those students. He worked with a NASA mentor-led team to compete in an engineering design challenge at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“While I may not be specifically into aerospace engineering, I find it fascinating how this project went beyond the aerospace sector – the physics of cosmic rays, the use of hydrology to determine water sources, the psychology of a manned mission to Mars,” he said. “It was an awesome experience.”
Castle is currently working at the University of Chicago as an undergraduate research assistant at the Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME). After finishing at College of DuPage, he plans to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemical engineering and eventually work on his doctorate. He’s happy that attending COD is allowing him to earn college credit, save money to continue his studies after transferring and participate in experiences that made him a better student.
“I want to do research to discover the possibilities our universe has, engineer them to help humanity and teach so others may follow. The science that grabs my attention is the science that involves a blend of physics, chemistry and biology together,” he said.
“Chemistry is not an easy subject, but don’t be afraid to dive in! You are not alone in a classroom, because all your other classmates are trying to master the same chapters. Communicate together to better understand the tough material and help others when it’s easy for you. Chemistry is for everyone because it is everyone. You are chemicals and everything exists because of chemistry. The possibilities are endless!”
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