Celebrating Diversity - Seth Caines

  • Seth and friends (who are also a part of the LGBTQ+ community) at dripped and draped a coffee shop in Omaha.

Celebrating Diversity

June: PRIDE Month

In the College of Engineering, all are welcome. To better share the stories of how our faculty, staff, students and alumni are diverse in their many varying forms, we are celebrating various heritage and other nationally recognized months. This recognition will include stories about those in our greater engineering community, as well as sharing events and other opportunities.

Seth testing water quality parameters after collecting water samples from the Elkhorn River.

Seth Caines

Junior, Biological Systems Engineering (McNair Scholars Program)

Name, Hometown, Pronouns, and any Identity/-ies you wish to share that are relevant to Pride Month.

Hometown: Hanover Park, Illinois
Identities: Gay man

Q: Describe a bit about your personal and/or professional background.

A: I am gay afro-latino student originally from Hanover Park, Illinois (the northwest suburbs of chicago). At the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, I am an (incoming) junior majoring in Biological Systems Engineering with a minor in math. I hope to graduate with my bachelors degree in Biological Systems Engineering within the next 2 years and pursue a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering.

Q: What is your role in the College of Engineering – and what do you enjoy (love!) about what you are doing? This can include groups you are involved in.

A: Within the college of engineering, I am involved with a mixture of research, teaching assistantships, and RSO’s on campus. I am a part of the McNair Scholars Program where I am currently working under the mentorship of Dr. Bartelt-Hunt in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department doing research on analyzing what types of microplastics are most prevalent within freshwater systems in Nebraska and seeing how different concentrations and types of microplastics affect water quality. After I am done with the McNair Summer Program, I am funded to continue the same project through UCARE during the school year, which hopefully I can start researching sustainable preventative measures to microplastic shedding from textiles as a form of mitigating microplastic fiber pollution.

I am also an undergraduate research/lab assistant with Dr. Amy Schmidt in the Biological Systems Engineering Department, where I work on a variety of different extension and research projects that deal with proper manure management to reduce environmental impacts as well as preparing for a literature review on the effects of no-till systems on phosphorus concentrations in soil.

In addition to research, I am a Teaching Assistant for ENGR 100: Interpersonal Skills for Engineering Leaders, where I help with lectures and teach a lab of up to 20 students on interpersonal skills, leadership, presentational skills, and community service. Outside of the college of engineering, I am a part of ASUN (student government), where I am an elected senator for the college of engineering. As a senator, I want to work on projects that help uplift the college of engineering and also help foster a safer, more diverse campus environment as a whole for students apart of the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities.

Along with being a senator, through ASUN, I am also the chair for the Environmental Sustainability Committee, where I hope to uplift sustainability practices that are already existing within the university, as well as implement new projects and activities around campus that promote more sustainable lifestyles and practices across campus.

Q: What does Pride mean to you, especially as a member of the College of Engineering community?

A: As a member of the college of engineering, pride month means accepting, uplifting, and celebrating our successful faculty and students who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, making sure their successes and adversities are heard. Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community and the college of engineering can feel alienating at times, so ensuring that students can feel safe and comfortable in the classroom is important. As a college, we must foster a community that is inclusive enough for students of different backgrounds, specifically students a part of the LGBTQ+ community to feel accepted in their classes by their peers and professors.

Q: How do you bring your own unique background to your role/responsibilities in the college or your professional life?

A: As a black gay man, I try to bring my own unique perspective and background into every single one of my responsibilities. Whether it be through my classes, the McNair scholars program, my research positions, being a TA, or through ASUN I try to ensure that I pull from my background to understand problems that people like me may face in and out of the classroom to ensure that others feel more welcome at UNL.

Q: How can others in the engineering community (on and off campus) be allies to you and others in the LGBTQIA+ community?

A: A way that students can be allies is by simply being kind. Making sure that you treat your peers and students who are a part of your classes and extracurriculars with respect/the way you would treat any other student. Be open to learn about other people's experiences and be inclusive to other people's opinions that may differ from your own. Along with this, making sure that other people are being held accountable for their own mistakes and/or prejudices against the community. To foster a more safe environment for people in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to make sure that you don’t push any stereotypes on others or misuse pronouns because that will only further divide peers from one another.