Pratt Profile: Tiffany Wilson

PhD student, Civil & Environmental Engineering 
Studying hydrology and water resources with Dr. John Albertson

Tiffany Wilson

Where are you from?

Raritan, New Jersey.

What was your undergrad degree and where did you get it?

My bachelor’s degree is in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Princeton University.

Why did you choose Duke?

Among the schools I was considering, I ultimately chose Duke because the research opportunity here best fit my interests. I wanted to be able to do both field work and modeling work in my area of hydrology and water resources, and my research here allows me to do that. I also really like the fact that Duke accepts students directly into the Ph.D. program instead of requiring that you enter as a Master’s student. It was a source of confidence; you really feel like the expectation is that you’ll be successful. Duke’s friendly environment and graduate students who were happy with their experiences attracted me as well.

Describe the community here at Pratt, the university, and Durham.

Pratt is an open, relaxed and welcoming environment. This is a great place to do research since everyone from fellow students to faculty and staff is supportive when you need help. The university itself has more grad students than undergraduates, which is unusual, but it’s great for graduate students because we have a noticeable presence on campus. There are all kinds of events and organizations that bring people from the broader Duke community together. I’m a member of GPSC and The Duke University Bouchet Society, both of which allow me to interact with people outside of engineering. I also really enjoy living in Durham. I’ve never felt bored in my four years here, and seeing the revitalization of the city is a great experience. Between all of the new restaurants and fun cultural activities downtown, there’s never a dull moment. Durham also has a fairly low cost of living, which means that our graduate student stipends go far enough to pay for more than just living expenses.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a GPSC executive board member, and my role is planning and supporting non-academic events for the entire Duke graduate and professional student community. Duke Basketball plays a big role in campus life, and I’m a member of the committee that plans events for graduate students relating to basketball. Our main event is the annual Campout, where students spend thirty-six hours camping out in tents, RVs, and U-Hauls to get season tickets for the men’s basketball games. Other than event planning, I spend my time playing IM sports, especially softball and flag football, and I enjoy watching football and basketball with friends.

Tell us something about yourself that otherwise we wouldn’t know or guess.

I enjoy baking, woodworking and sewing. Basically, I love anything where I get to work with my hands to create something usable or edible.

What’s ahead for you after graduation?

I haven’t decided what I’d like to do after graduation, but I know I want to continue to do research in some capacity. Academia, industry and government labs all have their own appeal, but I’m taking comfort in the fact that having a Ph.D. will help me in whatever career I choose.