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 seventh 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.

2017 U.N. Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany

Nine students attended and blogged their observations about the United Nations climate talks held in Bonn, Germany from November 6-17, 2017.

Student Bios

Rainey Aberle

Rainey Aberle graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in August 2017 with degrees in geosciences and physics. During her sophomore year, she had the opportunity to study away at Oxford University with a focus on climate impacts and adaptations. Since then, she spent a summer as an undergraduate researcher on Mt. Rainier, where she tracked glacier change using satellite imagery techniques, as well as helped her colleagues monitor hydrochemical traits of glacial meltwater. For her senior thesis, she numerically modelled glacier response to future climate scenarios on Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, WA. This year, she will work for the Washington Conservation Corps in Bellingham, WA, working in habitat restoration and a variety of other environmental projects in the area. She is very interested in the integration between natural science research and human development. In her free time, she likes exploring the outdoors and playing music.

Jessica Brunner

Jessica Brunner is a senior at the University of Connecticut where she majors in Environmental Studies and minors in Environmental Economics & Policy. Her studies are primarily focused on the interactions between human society and the environment as well as the ethical and cultural dimensions of these relationships. She is an active member of the UCONN Soil & Water Conservation Society as well as Eco-husky – an environmental education and outreach organization which promotes environmental awareness throughout the UCONN community. She spent her summer interning at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection where she assisted with field research and various remediation projects. Jessica loves to travel and she spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy this past spring.

Michelle Civitella

Michelle Civitella is from Long Island, New York. She is currently a senior at York College of Pennsylvania, majoring in Forensic Chemistry and minoring in Criminal Justice. As Vice President of the Chemistry Society at York College, she aims to make science fun and interesting for everyone on campus. Michelle has a strong interest in how science, including climate change, is communicated to the public. She is also a laboratory assistant for many of the chemistry courses on campus. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys running, gardening, walking her dogs, and going to the beach.

Hannah Kruelle

Hannah Kruelle is from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. She is a senior at York College of Pennsylvania studying Chemistry, with a minor in Criminalistics. She was born in Fair Oaks, Virginia, shortly before moving to Michigan. She is currently interning at Allegro Winery, studying grape composition. Upon graduation she would like to pursue a Master’s Degree in Analytical Chemistry. Her interest in climate change focuses on how different regions perceive and respond to climate change, with a particular interest in renewable resources. In her free time she enjoys baking, hiking, and paddle boarding.

Zachary Snier

Zachary Snier is a junior at York College of PA pursuing a degree in Biology with minors in Mathematics and Chemistry. Currently in the pre-medical program, he hopes to attend medical school with the intention of becoming a family physician. In addition to his medical pursuit, Zachary is passionate about public policy and the role science should have in the policy-making process. Later in life, he hopes to be in a position to advise policy makers on science-centered issues such as climate change. In the meantime, Zachary is focusing his undergraduate research on determining resource-efficiency of algal species to evaluate viability for use in biofuels as a way of being a part of the solution to climate change. Outside of of academics, Zachary serves his college and community through various roles such as being one of his Student Government Vice-Presidents.

Justin Pothoof

Justin Pothoof is a senior at the University of Detroit Mercy pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry.  Justin intends to enroll in a graduate program to acquire a PhD in either Inorganic Chemistry or Physical Chemistry with a focus on photovoltaic cells in an effort to revolutionize the solar energy field.  Justin is a very strong advocate for renewable energy advances due to their non-corruptive properties in comparison with coal, in particular.  Justin's undergraduate research projects have been centered on environmental issues.  His current project is the development of hydrophobic ligands that can extract toxic metal ions from water.  Justin tries to stay very active on his campus, but in his free time he enjoys running, reading, writing, and video games.

Jade Powers

Jade Powers is a junior at Moravian College, from Quakertown Pennsylvania, who is majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Environmental Science. Upon graduating, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in Environmental Chemistry. While at Moravian, Jade has spent time abroad in Costa Rica focusing on conservation and ecology, while assisting in field work. This involved studying the ecological sustainability that was accomplished by Costa Ricans, and analyzing the fauna in different regions of the country and how their habitats were affected by the Costa Ricans. Beyond traveling for school, Jade has been to other countries to broaden her cultural horizons. In her free time, Jade enjoys hiking, kayaking, naps, and playing piano.

Tommy Watson 

Tommy Watson is a junior Environmental Science major and Chemistry minor at Baylor University. He was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. At Baylor, he works as a student research assistant for Dr. Rebecca Sheesley on analyzing urban, organic and elemental carbon particulate matter. Tommy became interested in climate sciences during his high school physics class which was taught by a NASA Operation IceBridge teacher-researcher. In December, 2017 he is travelling to Antarctica along with students from Virginia Tech, Ohio State, and Brockport State University of New York. Tommy’s main interests include how climate change will alter global atmospheric physics & chemistry over Antarctica and Martian geoscience. In his free time Tommy enjoys water skiing and other water sports. Upon graduation from Baylor Tommy is planning to enroll in a Ph.D. program for Planetary Geosciences and would like to someday work with NASA and SpaceX on Martian missions.

Jessica White

Jessica White is a junior biochemistry and applied mathematics double major at the University of New England.  She spent her summer doing research at UNE’s College of Pharmacy simulating cation-lipid membrane interactions.  In addition to her research at the College of Pharmacy, she is also doing mathematical research using programming to study the patterns in modular Fibonacci subsequences.  She is also co-Vice President of Chemistry Club, and is helping to coordinate a new project where students will produce maple syrup using the trees on campus to learn more about the chemistry behind a local industry.  She enjoys performing outreach projects, especially green chemistry demonstrations, and sharing her love of science with the community.