U.S. Chemistry Students Interpret the U.N. Climate Talks

ACS sponsors students to attend and blog their observations about the United Nations climate talks called the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They interview scientists, policymakers, and national leaders and discuss how the known science of climate change may be incorporated into international policy.

This is the fifth year that ACS has sponsored students. Their work is supervised by Professors Gregory Foy and Keith Peterman, both chemistry faculty members at York College of Pennsylvania (YCP), York, Penn.

Past Climate Conferences

2014 - Lima, Peru

Eight students will attend and blog their observations about the United Nations climate talks to be held December 1-12, 2014 in Lima, Peru.

Visit their blog.

Follow them on Twitter @StudentsAtCOP.

Student Bios

Shelby Bariana

Shelby Bariana is a senior Forensic Chemistry major at York College of Pennsylvania.  She enjoys her service as a student assistant in Organic Chemistry laboratory, and enjoys spending time in the lab in general.  She is Captain of the YCP Dance Team and has held several leadership positions within her Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority.  She has been a member of the YCP Chemistry Society—which has a "green" agenda—since her freshmen year.  She appreciates opportunities to engage in discussions about environmental studies and climate change and looks forward to leveraging social media to engage her peers from COP 20 in Lima, Peru. “I really want to engage in making a difference for my generation as well as younger generations.”  In her spare time, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with animals and friends.

Nina Diklich

Nina Diklich is a junior at Aquinas College in Michigan studying chemistry with minors in biology and mathematics. She has been interning in the Applications Lab for three years with AptarGroup, Inc., the world’s leader in dispensing system solutions. This direct contact with the aerosol industry was the inspiration for her involvement with environmental protection and education. Her passion and interest is the intersection of international business and environmental accountability, especially how this is affected by the average consumer. In her spare time, Nina can be found reading, running, socializing with friends, or at her on-campus jobs as a teaching assistant and tutor.

Barry Hartweg

Barry Hartweg is a senior chemistry major at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, minoring in environmental studies.  He interned this past summer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (ùNREL) in Golden, CO through the Department of Energy’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program. At NREL, he researched organic photovoltaic devices and attempted to optimize the efficiency of devices using two specific polymers.  He is passionate about renewable energy and its potential to decrease the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. He plans to pursue a career in photovoltaic research. In his spare time, he enjoys mountain biking, hiking, travelling, playing guitar, and playing basketball.

Jade Hovet

Jade Hovet is a senior ACS chemistry major at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Currently she is interning with the quality control department at POET ethanol, a Midwest based company that is focused on providing a cleaner and more affordable alternative to fossil fuels—where she often gets to swap out her lab coat and safety goggles for a hard hat and steel-toed boots. In the past, Jade has interned with Health Diagnostic Laboratories, a medical testing company based in Richmond Virginia, and has conducted research under Dr. Barrett Eichler at Augustana College. Her research was a pilot project for a prostate cancer test that focused on using quantum dots and FRET to detect the hybridization of DNA, which she presented at the national ACS meeting in New Orleans. Upon graduation Jade is hoping to attend graduate school for Science and Environmental Policy and work with both private corporations and government organizations to develop public policies that will help protect the environment and promote sustainability. Jade is the communications director of her schools chapter of the American Chemical Society, is a cheerleader at Augustana College, and is a lab assistant and tutor for the chemistry department. Jade often volunteers as a speaker for teen girls about the importance of science in society today and how exciting it can be with her message, “Every Flower Needs a STEM.”  In her free time she enjoys cooking, watercolor painting, and practicing yoga.

Catherine King

Catherine King is a senior studying chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of Alabama. She is passionate about the environment and currently works in Dr. Robin D. Rogers research group in the Chemistry Department working on developing green materials from chitin. She has spent two summers interning at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where she worked under Dr. Sridhar Gorti in the materials lab on depositing diamond like carbon from methane plasma and on modifying fibers for use in SLS (Space Launch System). In her free time she enjoys going to concerts, travelling, and spending time with friends.

Jess McDonald

Jess McDonald is a first-year Masters in Environmental Management Candidate at Duke University, specializing in Energy and the Environment. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies at the University of Pittsburgh in April.  After studying renewable energy in Brazil through the University of Pittsburgh’s Study Abroad program “Engineering for a Better Environment,” and working as a Health, Safety, Security and the Environment intern at BP’s Integrated Supply & Trading Division in Chicago, she became passionate about learning more about the vital relationship between our energy landscape and mitigating climate change.  When she was a Sustainability intern with Sodexo on Pitt’s campus, Jess helped to create a BYO[BAG] initiative to reduce plastic bag use and she also worked with the Real Food Challenge to increase the procurement of sustainable food in campus dining halls.  Jess is also an avid foodie, amateur photographer and National Geographic enthusiast.  In her spare time she enjoys reading books by her favorite author Paulo Coelho and planning her next travel adventure

Kowan O’Keefe

Kowan O’Keefe is a senior chemistry and mathematics major at Minot State University in North Dakota. His hometown is Creston, British Columbia, Canada. Kowan has a very keen interest in climate change, and in particular, legislation geared towards mitigating the effects of climate change. He is actively involved in organic chemistry research under Dr. Mikhail Bobylev, as well as research in applied mathematics under Dr. Narayan Thapa. Over the last two years he has presented his research a number of times, most notably at the 247th American Chemical Society national meeting in Dallas, and at Posters on the Hill in Washington, D.C. His favorite hobbies are playing golf, hockey, and tennis. At Minot State, Kowan plays on the varsity golf team, and last season was named to the NCAA Division II Academic All-America Team.

Rachel Sobel

Rachel Sobel is a senior Biochemistry and Women's Studies double major at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.  She previously served as an ACS student delegate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties 19 (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland. This year she will serve as a student mentor for the program at COP20 in Lima, Peru.  Her passion lies in understanding how health and the environmental issues intersect with gender, race, class, and culture to impact policy decisions. Rachel’s current interdisciplinary research as a Hamilton Senior Fellow involves analyzing how scientific knowledge in the medical field can be of particular social consequence. In her free time Rachel enjoys her on-campus jobs as a teaching assistant, peer advisor and tour guide as well as playing IM basketball and acting as philanthropy chair of her sorority. She plans to attend medical school in the future.