Eric Leibensperger '05

School of Humanities and Sciences | Physics | Chemistry

Eric Leibensperger was always interested in outdoorsy things, and at Ithaca College he became even more interested in the environment. “I eventually double majored in physics and chemistry to learn how to apply science to environmental issues,” he says.

Eric recently completed his Ph.D. at Harvard, and he credits his experiences in Ithaca’s science departments with giving him the ideal foundation for success.

“In a Ph.D. program you’re doing research all the time, and Ithaca was great preparation for that. I did research nearly every semester, and I learned the fundamentals for everything. I learned to think logically. I learned to write and present research. And when you do research at Ithaca, you work side-by-side with faculty and get lots of hands-on experience. At Harvard, that gave me a big leg up on students who’d been undergrads at large research universities but didn’t have that kind of experience,” he observes.

Eric’s doctoral thesis examines climate change from two sides of a coin—how climate affects air quality and how air quality affects climate.

“My field—atmospheric chemistry—straddles chemistry and physics, so my Ithaca majors were the perfect fit. I’ve just begun a postdoctorate program at MIT, looking at similar issues in the stratosphere. Long term, I’d like to become a professor,” he says.

Eric points out that while Ithaca is a great place to learn science, it’s not just a science school. There are plenty of opportunities to explore other disciplines and pursue personal passions, too.

“I was really into music before coming to IC, and I knew it was a really strong college for that. I took music classes right along with the music students, and played bass in a jazz ensemble. That kind of balance helps you manage your time and stay sane. At Ithaca, you really get the whole experience.”

>> More on this story: Undergraduate Research at IC: Learn by Doing