Page 13 - Engineering Penn State Magazine: Spring/Summer 2019
P. 13

   Features
 Inaugural Drawdown Scholars class arrives at Penn State
Students from across the country will spend eight weeks researching solutions to help reverse global warming
 by Ashley WennersHerron
Fifty-five undergraduate students from across the country have arrived at Penn State to take part in the first-ever Drawdown Scholars Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. Dubbed Drawdown Scholars, the students will spend eight weeks embedded in research programs across the University, with the aim of investigating positive solutions-orientated paths to take action on climate change.
The program is the first product of the partnership between Penn State and Project Drawdown, the coalition of researchers who published the 2017 New York Times best-seller, “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” The book details 100 solutions that may help achieve drawdown—the point at which greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to steadily decline.
“This book is hopeful. We, as a society, are facing a big problem, but there are achievable solutions,” said Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “And now, we have 55 bright, optimistic students ready to spend the next two months exploring and enhancing these solutions.”
The Drawdown Scholars are paired with faculty mentors
from several colleges and campuses at Penn State, including Brandywine, Harrisburg, and University Park. Together, the scholars and faculty will model the solutions, investigate their feasibility, and develop an outreach curriculum to educate others. The scholars will meet with Project Drawdown leaders, including Vice President and Research Director Chad Frischmann (right). They also will participate in weekly professional development courses.
Drawdown Scholars will present the culmination of their work at the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Symposium on July 30. They also will be invited back to Penn State to
Drawdown Vice President and Research Director, Chad Frischmann, speaks to Drawdown Scholars at the REU orientation.
present their work at the first international conference on drawdown, “Research to Action: The Science of Drawdown,” on Sept. 16-18.
Schwartz is co-leading the efforts behind the Drawdown Scholars program and the conference with Tom Richard, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment.
The combination of laboratory research and analysis drew
in applicants with diverse educational and interdisciplinary backgrounds. Every selected Drawdown Scholar has one important thing in common: a passion for understanding and improving society’s relationship with the environment.
“The Drawdown Scholars program appealed to me as the perfect chance to pursue my longtime interest in sustainable urban development and green infrastructure through research,” said Selena Tan, a sophomore at Columbia University and a Drawdown Scholar. “Conducting research in a laboratory and utilizing computer software to analyze and interpret data are all very different from anything I have experienced in a classroom or internship setting.” n
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