Cal State LA civil engineering grad aims to protect the environment and inspire others
By LeAnn Zuniga | Cal State LA News Service
Joseph Lucey found his passion in the study of hydrology and water resources.
Through his research, Lucey hopes to help safeguard the Earth’s most vital resource for future generations. The Los Angeles resident, who is also a mentor and tutor, has helped others excel in civil engineering.
“I've always wanted something more,” Lucey says. “I didn’t know what it was at first, but I knew I wanted to do better and be better. I really feel like going to school and getting an education has been that outlet for me.”
In May, Lucey graduated from Cal State LA with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. In the fall, he will begin a Ph.D. program at UCLA in hydrology and water resources.
Lucey’s interest in the field was sparked by his involvement in a civil engineering research group offered by the NASA Data Intensive Research and Education Center for STEM (NASA DIRECT-STEM) program at Cal State LA. As a student researcher in the program, Lucey worked under the guidance of Assistant Professor Sonya Lopez.
NASA DIRECT-STEM offers highly competitive and historically underrepresented students NASA research experience to inspire them to become future leaders in STEM-related professions.
Lucey was awarded an internship at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in fall 2016 and has since worked collaboratively with Lopez and JPL to develop global statistical models for groundwater and precipitation-linked surface inundation. He also received a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation-Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship, which was funded by the California State University's Office of the Chancellor and the National Science Foundation.
Helping others to achieve at the university is important to Lucey, who is a first-generation college student. He tutored and taught classes for incoming engineering students and students who needed additional support in math and engineering courses. Lucey hopes to inspire younger members of his family to pursue education.
“It’s been interesting becoming a role model for other first-generation students as well as for my younger family members,” Lucey says. “We’re the ones breaking the barriers and teaching our families that there's more to education.”
Lucey’s efforts have earned him acclaim. He has received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the GEM Fellowship, which provides full financial support for graduate school, and the UCLA Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship.
Lucey is excited about graduate school and sees his current and future research as an opportunity to make change. He plans to become a professor so he can provide students with the kind of support and guidance he received from his professors at Cal State LA.
Lucey hopes to someday teach at Cal State LA and give back to the school he feels has given him so much.
“There's just so much opportunity across campus,” he says. “The faculty here get it; their intentions are genuine. There’s been someone at every node that had gotten me to another place.”