Just Like Dad’s White T-Shirt: Trojan Engineer Unlocks Memories with Fragrance

Photo of Aidan Niswender
Industrial and System Engineering Senior Aidan Niswender is hoping to launch a career in perfumery. (Photo / Akash Sareen)

For Aidan Niswender, B.S. ISE ’23, a COVID lockdown hobby became a passion, which could lead to a career in perfumery.

A fragrance can whisk you away to another time and place. The crisp, salty air of a seaside vacation. A freshly cut lawn on a summer’s day. The hug of a beloved grandparent. A scent has the remarkable ability to conjure up a wealth of stories, emotions and memories.

Aidan Niswender has just the nose for it.

Niswender, a USC Viterbi graduating senior in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has spent the last few years exploring a newfound passion for fragrance design. What began as an unusual hobby during the COVID-19 shutdown soon exploded into a potential career as a perfumer creating evocative, customized scents for clients.

A keen photographer and videographer also minoring in cinematic arts, Niswender has always had a strong artistic side. When he discovered perfumery, it felt like a perfect combination of everything he loved: a creative field grounded in chemistry and scientific practice with a powerful capacity to conjure up an aesthetic.

“I just love being able to tie scent to a memory,” Niswender said. “The first cologne that I bought, I kept it because it reminded me so much of my dad. He used to wear white T-shirts when he got home from work and would go out and garden. The cologne smelled exactly like those white T-shirts. Every time I wear it, I’m just reminded of that.”

Read more about Aidan’s story