Jacob Toney

Chemical Engineering, Class of 2021

Oceanside, California

My name’s Jacob, and I’m a junior studying Chemical Engineering from Oceanside, California. Here at USC, I serve as VP Academic of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and Co-President of the Latino Alumni Association (LAA) Scholar Committee, through which I help to plan different academic and service oriented events. I’m also a member of the Sharada Research Lab where I use computational chemistry to study synthetic catalysts. For fun, I love to play guitar, go hiking, and watch movies with friends.

If you’d like to hear more about my experience living my #ViterbiLife, keep reading below!

My Blogs

Check out what I have been up to in my recent blog posts!

Only when I began studying chemical engineering…did I realize that I myself might discover something new about the nature of the world.

Linus Pauling

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More About Me

My Favorite LA Spots

Favorite USC Tradition

My favorite USC tradition is Game Days. Everyone knows how important football is to the Trojan family, but there are no words to quite describe the feeling of walking through campus on your way to the Coliseum, and seeing a sea of students, friends, family, and alumni dressed in cardinal and gold, on their way to support our team.

My Involvements

  • USC’s branch of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers is a great resource to take advantage of, with opportunities ranging from research seminars to social events to our Design Challenge. Being involved since my freshman year, AIChE has been a wealth of resources for me. Serving as VP Academic has given me plenty of experience working with my fellow board members and planning events, and has been a great way for me to give back to the Chem-E community.

  • Through USC’s Latino Alumni Association Scholar Committee, I work with other scholars to plan social, community service, and academic events, such as feeding the homeless and hosting middle school students to visit USC. I currently serve as Co-President of the committee, and have helped plan our Alumni Mentorship program, and Service Days, Game Nights, Viewing Parties, and more. Being involved with the LAA provides a nice alternative to my STEM extracurriculars, as I’m able to interact with individuals in a nonacademic setting, and meet new people.

  • Being in the Sharada Research Lab has been a great experience for me. My work in particular involves using IQmol and Q-Chem, molecular modeling and quantum chemistry software packages, to run simulations and determine the properties of potential catalytic systems. One application of this work is to aid in the identification of molecules as possible candidates in the development of synthetic catalysts for the conversion of methane to methanol, which would be of great benefit to the energy industry. By working in the lab, I’ve gained insight into how chemical engineering research is performed, and learned to always seek out help when you don’t understand something!

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My Netflix Obsessions

  • I know it’s a bit old for our generation, but Seinfeld is one of my favorite TV shows ever. The antics and conversations of Jerry and the gang never get old, and it’s the perfect thing to watch whenever you need to unwind after a long day, or just want a quick laugh!

  • Breaking Bad is a show about consequences, as it tells the story of a simple man driven to desperation. What starts as a noble cause to provide for his family after learning he has terminal cancer soon becomes a descent into darkness for Walter White. It’s a chilling tale of morality, and has some of the greatest acting and character development on television.

  • Peaky Blinders is the tale of Tommy Shelby, leader of a street-gang in post-WWI Britain, and his ambitions to move up in the world.

My Major: Chemical Engineering

     Why Chemical?

People oftentimes think chemical engineers do nothing but use chemistry, but in reality, we’re much more diverse than that. In few other engineering disciplines will you find all the classic sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology, along with math, playing such a fundamental role. Due to its broad nature and variety of applications, chemical engineering was the best way for me to continue studying science, but more importantly, learn to apply it in engineering solutions to real-world problems.

Passion in my Field


  • Nuclear power – the energy of the future, and the domain of chemical engineers.

  • Carbon nanotubes – a relatively new and promising material designed and synthesized by chemical engineers!

  • ChemE’s can run refineries, chemical plants, and any facility for energy and materials production.

Passion in the Classroom 

My Favorite Courses

CHE 330 was certainly the most difficult class I’d taken at that point, but it was also the most rewarding. Thermo for chemical engineers is a bit more involved than most other majors, since it covers both the chemical and mechanical realms of thermodynamics – ranging from heat engines to electrochemistry. As a result, the material explained pretty much everything, and it was fascinating to gain such a fundamental understanding of nature.