Aaron David Seidel, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, March 30, 2018. Photo by David Loomis.
By Logan Hullinger
INDIANA — Aaron D. Seidel is busy.
The fifth-year Indiana University of Pennsylvania undergraduate triple-majors in geoscience, environmental engineering and applied mathematics. In March he won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. As an April 18 IUP news release reported, the award is the preeminent honor of its kind, given to outstanding STEM undergraduates nationwide to encourage careers in their fields.
On April 17, Seidel presented his research in Harrisburg. He was the first IUP student to place at the annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol Pennsylvania poster competition, an annual event that invites students statewide to pitch their work to lawmakers. Seidel’s poster, “Application of Ground Penetrating Radar and the Complex Refractive Index Model to Estimate Methane Dynamics of Semi-Natural Environments,” placed third.
Seidel studies geoscience for “the betterment of humanity” and seeks to conduct research in arid regions to maximize access to clean water through irrigation and agriculture engineering “to optimize water efficiency and improve crop yields in African countries.”
In his spare time, Seidel established and manages a nonprofit that collects surplus IUP textbooks and donates them to Nigerian children.
He is a member of IUP’s Cook Honors College, and he is a McNair Scholar, a program to prepare undergrads for doctoral study. He maintains a 3.96 grade-point average on a 4-point scale.
He volunteers at a local animal shelter.
Faculty mentors use superlatives to describe his scholarship, his service, his work ethic. One faculty collaborator said Seidel was a model and an inspiration, and he expressed pride in what Seidel has achieved and what he can accomplish in a promising career.
But there is one catch:
Seidel is a convicted felon.