CAS Corps Feature: Aidan Keaveney

The CAS Corps are chosen to serve as representatives to all constituents of the College of Arts and Sciences and to create, promote and execute opportunities for academic and professional growth. These students represent a variety of departments from across the College of Arts and Sciences and will represent the College at events through interaction among current students, future students, parents, donors and alumni.

Each month we will be introducing one of our students representing the college in the 2020-21 academic year through a question and answer format. This month, Aidan meet . For more about the CAS Corps, visit:

Aidan Keaveney

Hometown: Durham, N.C.
Majors: Applied Physics - Mathematical Physics &  Mathematics - General Mathematics 
Honors College

What clubs or organizations are you a member of?
Physics and Astronomy Club and Swing Dance Club.

Sports or hobbies?
Baseball, swimming, reading, writing, gardening and hobby rocketry

Scholarship(s) you have received from Appalachian or while studying at Appalachian?
Chancellor's Scholarship.

Location(s)/Organization(s) you completed an internship.
Louisiana State University (LIGO Scientific Collaboration).

Location(s) you completed a study abroad or study away.
Fall break trip to Ireland.

Location(s)/lab(s) you conducted research.
Detector Characterization group, Louisiana State University, LIGO Scientific Collaboration; Experimental Nuclear and Astroparticle Physics group, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and MAJORANA and LEGEND Collaborations and with Dr. Michael Briley, Appalachian State University.

Location(s) you hope to go for an internship, study abroad or research experience.
I would love to have some kind of international experience somewhere in East Asia.

Research or course work you have been most passionate about?
This is a very hard question, but I'll pick one I haven't mentioned. I spent my junior and senior years of high school grappling with the issues of race and socioeconomic status in gifted education. I have always benefitted from gifted education, and I've always lived in very diverse communities. It troubled me the degree to which I benefited from gifted education while my less affluent peers and my peers of color did not. At the end of my senior year, my paper entitled “Teacher Bias and Parental Identity as Causes of Racial and Socioeconomic Inequality in Gifted Education” was published in the journal “The Fifth World," which was both an honor and perhaps an ironic instance of the subject of my paper.

What has been the biggest challenge for you this summer?
Finding a way to maintain positive mental health and state of mind while staying responsibly aware of the state of affairs in the world.

What has given you peace, relaxation or been your outlet over the summer?
Landscaping my family's backyard and planting a garden to give us a safe and comfortable outdoor space where we could safely remain connected to our loved ones.

What has been the book, podcast and/or tv show you found rewarding or enjoyed over the summer?
“Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green and “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett.

What are you most excited about this coming semester?
I'm excited about applying what I've learned from my summer research project to my Appalachian career, both in terms of computational techniques and professionalism in a remote environment. Also, being an RA for the 6th floor of Summit!

What are you most anxious about this coming semester?
I'm anxious about how the pandemic will affect our Appalachian community on both a large-scale and individual level. I'm also anxious about managing my own physical and mental health while trying to maintain positive relationships.

What is one of your favorite memories at Appalachian thus far?
The Sunbelt Conference Championship Game last fall.

What do you like about Boone and the surrounding community?
The fresh mountain air and the constant view in every direction!

What do you feel has been valuable in your education at Appalachian versus another institution?
Appalachian has always managed to emphasize balancing mental and physical health with academic achievement in a way that has not been a major issue at other institutions I've been involved with. Just one of the many faculty members who has impacted my life is Dr. Michael Briley. Classes had not even started yet before my very first semester at Appalachian when I emailed him a resume and a cover letter and tried to make the audacious claim that I was prepared for a research experience with him. Despite having no existing lab structure or ongoing research projects, he took me on after a 30 minute interview and gave me a research project of my own catered to my skills and interests. Though there have been times where both of us have had other priorities we were focusing on, he has always remained committed to working with me when I need help, and I hope that I have done right by him taking a chance on me.

Tell us about one other connection you have made while at Appalachian - a friendship, mentor, colleague, a new found hobby or interest?
Dr. Jeff Vahlbusch is a mentor of mine in the Honors College. I think Dr. Jeff has probably done more for me at Appalachian than I am even aware of. Beyond simply organizing my scholarship program, he is a constant positive force for me at Appalachian. He always responds positively to my emails in a timely manner, no matter the content. It's very possible that I could email him harsh criticism of his job as Dean of the Honors College (though I couldn't imagine doing so, nor having content for that message), and he would respond praising my gusto and bravery for speaking up for what I believe in. He is endlessly supportive of my endeavors, he is willing to talk me up to anybody whether I ask him to or not and he is, above all, kind, generous and positive. He clearly has much more on his plate than my needs and the needs of other students, but he nonetheless takes the time, usually on the same day, to cater to those needs.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?
The Solarium. It's a relaxing space to work in pseudo-nature with close proximity to McAlister's and an awesome smoothie place.

What is your understanding of "sustainability" after being at Appalachian?
Appalachian has taught me a great deal about environmental sustainability, certainly, but the most important aspect of sustainability I have learned from Appalachian is related to my mental and physical health. Sustainability to me means that nothing is worth it if it will not help you maintain a positive, joyful lifestyle for the near and far future. I have to maintain a happy, stable, sustainable lifestyle for my own mental and physical health. That's what sustainability means to me.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
As of now, I hope to pursue a doctoral degree in some area of physics, probably related to nuclear, particle or astrophysics.

What is your dream job?
Nobel Prize Winner.

Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself?
I have a twin brother who is my best friend, my biggest competitor, my hero and my touchstone. There is perhaps no relationship that compares to that of identical twins, and I feel so fortunate to have been given the most important relationship of my life as a product of mere chance.

Aidan Keaveney, sophomore, double majoring in Applied Physics - Mathematical Physics &  Mathematics - General Mathematics. Photo submitted.
Published: Dec 4, 2020 5:44pm