An undergraduate computer science + chemistry major in the Class of 2025, Sofia Sivilotti is from Columbus, Ohio.
Why chemistry? I love thinking about the underlying principles to why the world works the way it does and am drawn to wide range of impacts chemistry has on daily life and want to be able to be part of that impact.
Career goals after graduation? I plan to work in the sustainability or drug development industry creating computational tools with chemical applications.
What are you involved in on campus?
- Illinois Triathlon Club (President) – Triathlon Club is a good way to stay active with a great group of people and lets me compete against other collegiate clubs at races throughout the year, including Nationals.
- Maker Network/Precious Plastic (President) – Maker Network combines sustainability and engineering by focusing on recycling plastic waste from maker spaces across campus. I enjoy being able to recycle acrylic and 3D printer waste into new material that can be used for art and make the campus a little more sustainable.
What have you learned in your undergraduate research experience? I am currently doing research in the Jackson Lab and have been able to participate in a collaboration with other groups in Thrust 4 of the Molecule Maker Lab Institute. I have gotten experience with a range of machine learning techniques in chemistry and have investigated ways of predicting molecules that perform well for a target property, especially in chemical spaces that pose synthesizability challenges. I got involved in research because I wanted to dive deeper into the applications of Computer Science in Chemistry, and I felt that my classes did not cover that intersection. I enjoy the ability to go in depth on one project and work on a problem that hasn’t been solved before. Another highlight is learning about what other people are researching, which has given me a richer understanding of where machine learning is used in chemistry.
Why did you choose UIUC? I chose UIUC for the unique experience being a Computer Science + Chemistry student offered and for the diverse group of students at a school of this size.
What is your favorite chemistry class so far and why? Chem 442 – I enjoyed learning the underlying math that explains basic chemical principles and learning derivations of equations.
What support have you found helpful as an undergraduate? For Calculus and Physics exams, I found the CARE tutoring and review sessions helpful for getting extra practice and explaining difficult problems.
Favorite campus spot? Favorite activity? The pond in the Arboretum, especially in the Spring when the trees are blooming. I love cycling through the corn fields south of campus.
How have you found a sense of community on campus? I have found that everyone on campus is welcoming and talking to people in your classes and joining Registered Student Organizations is the best way to build a tight knit community. Triathlon Club has been an incredible group that I have found on campus and has made this large University feel like a small community.