From Campus Leader to Researcher to Podcast Host

Aidan Looby ’21 emerged as a campus leader by taking risks and trying new things, including starting his own podcast to help showcase the research of Widener students and faculty members.

Aidan Looby
Class of 2021
Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry
  • School of Engineering
  • College of Arts & Sciences
Next Step: : PhD in Organic Chemistry

Aidan Looby ’21 wants to open as many doors as possible.

When he arrived at Widener, he decided to put himself out there, and join an organization or two to see where it would lead. 

“You make a few friends and then another door opens, and it leads to another opportunity,” said Aidan. “You let them happen and you get a great benefit out of life.”

Aidan seized those opportunities and emerged as a campus leader, rising to a top position in Fraternity and Sorority Life, and serving as a C.R.E.W. Leader to help new students transition to campus.

Academically, he also excelled. Aidan came to Widener as a chemical engineering major, drawn by the university’s well-regarded co-op program. He soon added a second major of chemistry, and could often be found in the lab working on green chemistry research.

And he took another leap while at Widener by starting his own podcast called Under the Scope to help highlight the scientific pursuits of his fellow students and university faculty members.

Widener opened many doors for Aidan, and he confidently walked through them, finding a way to balance it all.

You make time for the things you love. I love chemistry and learning. I love being a leader on campus and learning how to be a better person every day. — Aidan Looby '21

Leadership Development

Aidan’s involvement in campus life began with Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), joining Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), and eventually becoming its president. He took his FSL leadership a step further and served as president of the Interfraternity Council, the governing body of Widener’s fraternity chapters.

Aidan was committed to FSL’s philanthropic mission, raising money for organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (TKE’s charity), and other causes. His work continued in earnest even during the pandemic, and he was known to tie fundraising to personal challenges. In spring 2020, he raised money to buy food for health care workers at nearby Crozer-Chester Medical Center by agreeing to dye his hair pink and style it as a mohawk.

“Life is difficult,” said Aidan. “Am I going to be part of the change or duck my head?”

Green Research

Working alongside chemistry Professor Loyd Bastin, Aidan’s research at Widener involved the green synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs. He specifically looked at a derivative of maleimides, a drug that can potentially be used for treating Alzheimer’s. It is expensive to synthesize this derivative and Aidan explored ways to simplify the process and make it sustainable and more environmentally friendly. He will draw on the experience as he pursues a doctorate in organic chemistry after graduating Widener.

On Air

As a fan of podcasts and scientific research, Aidan thought someone should create a podcast to showcase some of the great work that Widener students and faculty members are doing. Then he realized he could be that person. With a microphone, YouTube and Spotify accounts, and a Zoom connection, Aidan created Under the Scope – a semi-regular podcast to interview members of the Widener community about their research and career trajectories. 

“I really wanted to show freshmen and potential new students what goes on here, to offer the student and faculty perspective, to show that the faculty can be super approachable,” said Aidan. “People here are really intelligent and are doing groundbreaking work.”

While most of Aidan’s guests have been affiliated with the biology, chemistry, or biochemistry departments, he also hosted Widener President Julie Wollman on an episode to talk about her career path and leadership of the university.

“It’s humbling, and I’m honored people want to take part in the podcast,” said Aidan.

Next Step:: PhD in Organic Chemistry

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