Student Spotlight: Denali Selent

By Gabby Benedict, CEC Reporter

Denali Selent is a junior at Miami University who is majoring engineering. She was recently featured in the university’s episode of the series, “The College Tour.”

Selent is a student representative on Miami’s Climate Action Task Force and leads a Student Engagement sub-committee with eight members. The group’s advisor is Scott Walter, and on the task force, they plan projects, events, and strategies to help engage the student body in carbon neutrality efforts and to understand the importance of climate action. the-college-tour

Selent, Levy and the camera crew during the filming of "The College Tour"

Selent became involved in “The College Tour” at the request of Miami’s President Gregory Crawford, who wanted Miami’s climate commitment highlighted in the episode. Selent and Jonathan Levy, associate professor in the department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, share Miami's plans to reach carbon neutrality through the Climate Action Task Force and discuss how Miami's liberal education helps promote climate action and innovation.

This past summer, Selent participated in research studying the threats that California farmers face from diminishing groundwater quantity and quality, and how technology to address these problems fits into social structures. 

This [research] exemplifies how engineering, science, and social science used in parallel can design robust, resilient solutions,” Selent said.

Selent’s current research interests address environmental science threats through an engineering mindset and include carbon capture technology and sustainable agriculture. She combines the critical thinking and problem-solving skills she has developed in engineering and the sustainable solutions to complex environmental problems caused by climate change that she has learned in environmental science so she can study her specific topics of interest more efficiently.

Selent believes that engineering is a mindset and problem-solving approach rather than simply a field of study because of the critical thinking that can be developed and applied to every facet of life. 

“When I think about all of the hands-on experiences I have had at Miami, I am reminded of the quote ‘You don't know what you don't know.’ Through various hands-on experiences, I have been exposed to many diverse ideas and perspectives, which has diversified my thinking and helped me become a more well-rounded individual,” Selent said.

Being able to work hands-on and prepare herself for future career opportunities has not only helped her in learning how to collaborate with others, but has also exposed her to new research interests, ideas and fields that she was unfamiliar with before.

Selent loves the philosophy of wayfinding when it comes to her future career, which she describes as “following [her] interests to see what opportunities and options they lead to.”

As of right now, she is considering pursuing graduate school in environmental engineering or environmental science. In the future, Selent hopes to enter a research career or work for an environmental nonprofit or environmental governmental agency.