'Our team's research contributes directly to scalable solutions for global environmental issues'

Sophia Su

Vancouver, British Columbia

What was your favorite class and why?  

One of my favourite classes would have to be AEM 4485: Economics of Food and Malnutrition with Professor John Hoddinott. Grounded in Prof. Hoddinott’s own extensive research, this class directly applies foundational economic theories and models to explain the critical role of food in international development. The interdisciplinary nature of the course attracted a diverse student body too. I had the opportunity to collaborate with peers from various academic paths and career journeys. The blend of theoretical knowledge and practical expertise was instrumental in enriching my understanding of the intricate relationships between economic policies and global nutrition outcomes. 

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

person in a kayak

My main extracurricular activity is leading the aquaculture subteam within the Cornell University Sustainable Design project team. This role has been pivotal for me since I joined in my sophomore year. It offers the unique challenge of leading a diverse team to design, build and test solutions to overfeeding in commercial aquaculture. Our team also works alongside Dr. Eugene Won, giving us the opportunity to engage in meaningful research, contributing directly to scalable solutions for global environmental issues. This work aligns closely with my academic and personal interests, making it a deeply rewarding part of my undergrad experience. 

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?         

Among the countless cherished memories from Cornell, the most transformative one is my involvement with the Cornell Einhorn Center’s Vietnam Adverse Childhood Experience Pathfinder project (VACEP). From early morning Zoom meetings writing literature reviews with my teammates at VinUniversity to spending three weeks on-site in Hanoi, engaging with community members and local NGOs, this experience profoundly shaped my academic interests and personal growth. It highlighted the importance of community engagement, the impact of creating platforms for sharing diverse perspectives and the potential positive outcomes that can be achieved by empowering others to act with courage, curiosity and humility. There’s something uniquely enriching about being immersed in a foreign environment with a diverse yet unified cohort — all driven by a desire to serve a public purpose. 

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? 

person skiing

As a freshman, I would have thought it impossible to navigate my way through three different majors and finally declare one at the end of my junior year. However, this path, while seemingly chaotic, unfolded naturally, revealing its purpose with each transition. I began my undergraduate journey in development sociology, driven by a desire to understand the sociological theories that underpin challenges in international development. However, I soon realized that I craved a more hands-on, practical approach to these issues. Transitioning to global development, my coursework and research deepened my appreciation for the economic and analytical methods necessary to tackle the interdisciplinary nature of development challenges. Consequently, I decided to build a robust quantitative foundation by declaring a new major in economics, grounding my diverse interests in a strong analytical framework. My time at Cornell has taught me that the pursuit of knowledge is not a linear journey but a dynamic exploration that requires flexibility, perseverance and an open mind. Embracing uncertainty has led me to some of the most fulfilling outcomes. Each change in my academic focus was not merely a switch in discipline but a step towards a more comprehensive understanding of how I can contribute to the world. 

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2024.

More News from A&S

person standing outside