He was fresh out of college, but the timing couldn’t have been worse.
“Graduating in 2009 at the pit of the Great Recession was a humbling experience,” Kyle Pfeiffer ’22 MTL recalls. “I had a college degree and a pretty impressive CV, and I found myself working per diem EMT jobs and waiting tables. Looking back, I think that was probably good for me.”
Pfeiffer’s post-college experience of graduating into the Great Recession left an impression. “I take nothing for granted,” he says. “I try to work harder than the next person because I know that jobs that fill the soul and the wallet are not guaranteed.”
His hard work has paid off. A series of analyst positions led to multiple posts at Argonne National Laboratory, the renowned multidisciplinary science and engineering center born out of the University of Chicago’s Manhattan Project in the 1940s. At Argonne, Pfeiffer is currently the Director of Research and Development for the Decision and Infrastructure Sciences Division. He holds a joint appointment at the University of Chicago’s Consortium for Advanced Science and Engineering.
Since joining the center in 2014, he has worked on problems of national importance, including building stronger and more resilient supply chains; hardening and protecting critical infrastructure systems; building more disaster-resilient communities; and preparing for the risks associated with climate change. He says it’s not unusual for him to pick up The Washington Post and see headlines about topics Argonne is actively engaged in, from climate change and the European energy crisis to electric vehicle adoption and COVID-19 vaccines.
“I’m lucky in that I can say that I really do love my job,” he says. “There aren’t many places where you get to think big ideas and see their immediate implementation.”