2019 U.N. Climate Talks in Madrid, Spain

Ten students attended and blogged their observations about the United Nations climate talks which were held from December 2-13, 2019 in Madrid, Spain after being relocated from Santiago, Chile.

Student Bios

Yasmin Ajirniar

Yasmin Ajirniar, a second year at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and plans to pursue a minor in French. Her involvement in Chemistry includes active membership and Merchandise Chair for the Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, undergraduate teaching assistant positions in courses offered by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, and undergraduate research, which focuses radical polymerization of thionolactone monomers. Outside of academics, Yasmin also enjoys traveling, hiking, running, and practicing yoga.

Alexis Amelotte

Alexis Amelotte is a senior at York College of Pennsylvania pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Chemistry, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Fine Art. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician scientist. Her current research initiatives focus on neurological development and the use of CRISPR to decrease development of colon cancer and glioblastoma. On campus, Alexis serves as a member of the Executive Cabinet of YCP’s Student Senate, President of the Pre-Med and Allied Health Society, Vice President of Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, a laboratory assistant, and First Year Seminar fellow. In her (limited) free time, Alexis enjoys growing succulents, baking, making pottery, and playing with her cat Drusilla. Alexis is concerned about the effect that climate change is having on global health.

Aminda Cheney-Irgens

Aminda Cheney-Irgens is a fourth year student at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, WA majoring in Chemistry and Hispanic Studies, with a minor in Environmental Studies. Aminda has spent the last two summers participating in research opportunities both at PLU and with an REU at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras campus, studying polymer and electrochemistry, and had the opportunity to study conservation biology in Mexico last fall. Aminda is an advocate for socially responsible ecological sustainability, has served as a campus Sustainability Director, and seeks to learn and educate about the importance of climate change mitigation and climate science literacy. Aminda hopes to pursue graduate studies in environmental engineering and work to alleviate the growing consequences of global climate change. 

Connor Crowe

Connor Crowe currently attends Baylor University as an undergraduate senior studying environmental health science with an interest in epidemiology and vector-borne disease. Connor is interested in studying how climate change impacts the transmission and distribution of vector-borne diseases. After graduating, he plans to pursue an MPH in environmental health and then attend medical school. During his time at Baylor, Connor has been an active member of the American Medical Student Association as an officer on the professional development committee. In addition, Connor co-founded and is currently president of the Camping and Outdoor Skills Club, which works to provide a community on the Baylor campus for students passionate about the outdoors.

Haley Davis

Haley Davis is a fourth-year student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas pursuing a Bachelor of Science with a major in Environmental Science and a minor in Biology. Haley spends her time outside of class volunteer diving at the Cameron Park Zoo and running Baylor DIVE, a scuba club she helped create. Her primary research initiatives have been the impacts of PCBs on Gulf Killifish with Dr. Cole Matson and the effects of increased turbidity on denitrification in freshwater systems with Dr. Thad Scott. She has spent her summers interning with the Roatan Institute for Marine Science and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration studying human impacts on coral reefs and the ecosystems they sustain. Haley’s main interest in climate change has to do with its effects on the world’s oceans, including ocean acidification and sea level rise. She believes that these two effects of climate change are of extreme importance to coastal and island communities, and to valuable shallow-water ecosystems.

Lucas Frye

Lucas Frye is a fourth-year at the University of Virginia where he majors in Chemistry and minors in Government. As an undergraduate researcher, he studies synthetic organometallic chemistry with a focus on rhodium catalyzed cross-coupling. Upon graduating, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Chemistry. While at Virginia, Lucas has been an active member of Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity, conducting chemistry demonstrations to spread interest in the sciences among grade-school students in the Charlottesville area. He is also the President of Amuse Bouche, U.Va's long-form improv troupe, which works tirelessly to bring improvisational comedy to the masses.

Jack Green

Jack Green is a fourth year student attending the Louisiana State University Ogden Honors College pursuing dual degrees in Applied Coastal Environmental Science and Political Science. Jack is a LASAL scholar at LSU, focusing his studies on coastal land loss and racial poverty in Louisiana. He is a two time national Udall scholarship recipient for his sustainability activism work in Student Government. His experience interning at the LA Governor’s Office if Coastal Affairs clarified his passion for coastal policy and the intersection of science and government. He is a founding member of the Louisiana Youth Platform, a youth advocacy coalition promoting communication between young people in Louisiana with their representatives on the topics of environmentalism, criminal justice reform, education, and economic development. In his spare time, Jack enjoys playing the piano and spending quality time with his parents and two dogs.

Kristian Gubsch

Kristian Gubsch is a senior at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, WA pursuing a B.S. in chemical engineering. Kristian is very involved on campus and serves as the President of the Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute and Regional Conference Chair for WSU's chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Additionally, he teaches a first-year course in the WSU Honors College and is an undergraduate peer research mentor. He has completed three research internships since arriving at WSU with all of them being related to climate change. The projects were related to remote sensing of particulate wildfire pollution, CO2 conversion to valuable chemicals, and investigating how coral responds to ocean acidification. He is passionate about making limiting climate change profitable and enjoys developing and researching new technology that limits the effects of climate change. In the future, he hopes to launch or work for a company that is dedicated to developing sustainable technology. Outside of research and academics, he is an avid outdoorsman, traveler, podcast-listener, and reader. 

Baxter Krug

Baxter Krug is a fourth-year chemistry major with minors in mathematics and communication from Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX. Baxter has spent the last three years conducting environmental chemistry research on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and on the rhetoric surrounding mental health. These two subjects intersect on science communication and he is an advocate/developer of sci-comm programming. He writes and hosts a radio show called Slice of Pi where he takes deep dives into the technical side of a subject and explains it in a way everyone can understand. Going into COP 25, he wants to analyze the rhetoric surrounding climate change and open that discussion on a world stage. While limited, Baxter enjoys random adventures in the outdoors (e.g. backpacking, swimming, rock climbing, etc.) and playing the tuba in his spare time.

Shelby Toles

Shelby Toles is a senior at Baylor University in Waco, TX, and is majoring in International Relations with a focus in global environmental policy and minoring in German. She is interested in how climate change will impact the geopolitical landscape in the coming decades. Additionally, Shelby is interested in the role the United Nations plays in combatting climate change on a global scale, along with the role science plays in environmental foreign policy making. One of her involvements during school is being a member of Baylor’s Model United Nations traveling team. Shelby has become more interested in global climate issues since attending COP 24 in Katowice, Poland. When she graduates, Shelby hopes to continue working within environmental policy on a federal or global scale. In her spare time, Shelby enjoys doing pottery and most outdoor activities.