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TCI 2008-2009 Scholars

The Texas Climate Initiative provides internships for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct exploratory studies of policy relevant issues related to the mitigation, adaptation, and public understanding of impacts of global warming on Texas. In 2008-2009 six university interns are working at HARC as TCI Scholars. The entire student intern team worked during the 2008 summer months. TCI is continuing support for several of the projects on a part-time basis during the 2008-2009 academic year.  The TCI Scholars and their research topics are briefly summarized as follows:

Lindsey Bartlett is in the second year of the Master’s of Public Affairs program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to entering graduate school Lindsey worked for the UK government at the British Consulate General in Houston where she helped to create a new focus on clean and renewable energy. Lindsey’s TCI summer internship project focused on energy, climate change and sustainable development in food and agriculture. Lindsey’s summer research results documented significant opportunities for making progress on both the science and policy advances needed to improve the environment, increase the availability of healthy food, and create vibrant local and regional food production systems in Texas. She is continuing her research as a part-time HARC intern during this academic year and will publish her findings in 2009.

Alix Broadfoot is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin studying Civil Engineering.  She is interested in energy policy, global warming and environmental engineering.  After graduation, she will continue her studies in graduate school. Alix investigated how greenhouse gas methane is produced and emitted to the atmosphere from landfills. She also documented the available technologies for the collection and use of landfill gas as an energy resource. These results will provide the basis for improving estimates of total methane production and emissions from Texas landfills and assessing of opportunities for capturing landfill gas for use as a resource. Reducing methane emissions from landfills is one of the cost effective options for reducing greenhouse gases in Texas. Alix and Robert Harriss will co-author a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed professional journal in 2009.

Lars Doucet will complete a Master's Degree in Visualization Sciences at Texas A&M University in 2009.  Lars worked on his prize winning game titled Super Energy Apocalypse for his TCI internship project. This game is an important contribution to the emerging “serious games” effort to communicate important science content and public policy issues in a format that appeals to the computer game users.  The digital world is quickly becoming the primary venue for student learning. Serious games, Wikipedia, and other digital world venues are rapidly improving in the quality of content and their impact through “constructive” learning by problem solving. Lars plans to continue his studies for a Ph.D. in Visualization Science and to continue his work as a part-time HARC intern with a focus on the design of computer games focused on energy and sustainability.

Eliot Meyer is in his fourth year at the University of Texas at Austin studying a joint degree program in Civil Engineering and Liberal Studies in fall 2008.  He is interested in responsible and sustainable transportation planning and plans to continue to explore these topics in graduate school.  Eliot collaborated with Alix Broadfoot on an assessment of carbon calculators used by individuals and organizations purchasing carbon offsets based on energy consumption. Public offerings of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates are a rapidly growing business. This TCI carbon calculator project documented the need for increased consumer care in evaluating the quality of each carbon offset program. Eliot, Alix Broadfoot, and Robert Harriss will prepare an article titled Carbon Offsets—Buyer Beware for publication in a widely distributed publication.

Nisha Patel is in the final semester of a Masters in Public Health degree in the Management, Policy and Community Health program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Nisha’s TCI intern project involved developing a survey on the current awareness of and interest in climate and public health connections by university faculty teaching in public health programs in the State of Texas. One goal of her project was to identify public health researchers that would participate in the Texas Climate Initiative. The positive response to the survey indicates that an important opportunity exists to initiate an innovative climate-health collaborative network in Texas. Nisha is planning to expand her TCI internship work on climate and health as her thesis topic for the MPH degree.

Willie Wu is entering his second year of undergraduate studies in Economics and Earth Science at Rice University. Willie worked under the supervision of Krist Bender, Director, Office of Information and New Media, on the design and implementation of the TCI website. In July, he completed his TCI internship and traveled to China as a volunteer for the Summer Olympics.

 

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The Texas Climate Initiative is a project of the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and is directed by Robert Harriss.
Sponsors include generous grants from Houston Endowment, Inc., The Brown Foundation, Inc., Magnolia Charitable Trust and funding from the Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science.
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