Seven University of Chicago students from across the College and Harris School of Public Policy spent ten weeks this summer gaining hands-on experience in various career pathways focused on energy, the environment and climate change as part of EPIC’s 2023 Summer Internship Stipend Program. From analyzing corporate voluntary efforts to reduce pollution to exploring the intricacies of porous carbon materials, each student gained valuable skills.
Ashish Srivastava, a student at the Harris School of Public Policy, worked with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). His internship focused on air pollution issues due to rapid urbanization in cities.
“The experience has deepened my understanding of real-world applications of data analytics and desk research skills and has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally,” Srivastava said.
Srivastava contributed to various projects, including analyzing household-level social-differentiated data availability for 53 ESCAP member countries, creating a network building contact list for 30 under-represented countries at the United Nations, and academic reference retrieval for 03 countries under the national assessment human capacity data project.
“I’m grateful for the support and guidance I’ve received from the EPIC team, and I look forward to continuing to enhance my skills in the field,” said Srivastava.
Nicole Martinez, also at the Harris School of Public Policy, worked at the United Nations Environmental Program Finance Initiative. Here, Martinez supported research and content development on sustainable financial regulation, contributed to policy briefs for sustainable banking regulatory measures, and coordinated with key stakeholders.
“After leaving Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria and seeing the fiscal death spiral the island finds itself in, I knew I wanted to study the intersection between economics, human rights, and the environment at the University of Chicago. This internship works at that intersection — working with private and public sector banks to fund green initiatives in a way that ensures social equity,” Martinez said.
Meanwhile, Clark Kovacs, a student of the College studying Computational and Applied Mathematics, worked at Climate Jobs Illinois. Here, Kovacs worked closely with the Campaign Mobilization Director to educate Illinois public school administrators and educators about the various Federal and Statewide grants available for electric school buses, solar panels, and general electrification.
Kovacs engaged numerous school administrators through his internship, collected and analyzed funding data for various Illinois school districts, and informed the Executive Committee of vital repairs needed at specific schools. Additionally, Kovacs assisted the Regional Equity Director with assembling data to streamline the apprenticeship application process for first time union members.
Another student of the College, Alexandra Szmyd, studies Environmental and Urban Studies and Public Policy. For her internship, Alexandra worked with Turning Green, a non-profit organization with a mission to bring environmental education to youth around the world.
During her internship, Szmyd wrote for the Project Green Challenge – a campaign that taught and encouraged students to support eco-friendly solutions. Additionally, Szmyd worked with the Conscious Kitchen team, creating a map using GIS for farmers who provide organic produce to school children across the United States.
Evelyn Wyman, also a student of the College’s Environmental and Urban Studies degree, spent her summer at the advocacy group Coltura conducting policy research on state and country-wide gasoline car bans. Wyman updated several web pages on the effects of current gasoline consumption and the benefits of EV adoption, planning social media strategy, and worked on an op-ed on California’s cash for clunkers policies.
Manuela Pinheiro, a student of the College studying molecular engineering, found her internship with researchers at the University of Chicago taught her “how to develop hypotheses better, use literature to guide my next steps, analyze data, and present results.”
“This experience was essential to cement my decision to attend graduate school after college, as well as helping me develop skills to continue succeeding in research and the STEM field in general,” Pinheiro said.
Pinheiro is co-leading a project with her graduate student mentor, Adarsh Suresh, in porous carbon materials. They are synthesizing polybenzoxazine resins, polymers with excellent thermal and mechanical properties, and characterizing them through thermogravimetric analysis, DSC analysis, and spectroscopy. This material can be used for capacitive deionization, a separation technique that can be applied to heavy ion sequestration, water desalination, or carbon capture.
Hafiz Muhammad Taim Khalid, a student at Harris Public Policy, worked with the Multan Electric Power Company, an electric company in Pakistan, where he collaborated closely with the superintending engineer in the field of grid systems operation.
“My internship with the Multan Electric Power Company…has been pivotal in shaping my perspective and igniting my passion to create a resilient energy landscape that benefits both society and the environment,” Taim Khalid said.
Through this experience, Taim Khalid gained hands-on insights into the intricacies of power distribution and operation, learning to optimize grid performance and ensure reliable electricity supply. Upon graduation, Taim Khalid is committed to roles that can drive positive change at the intersection of technology, policy, and sustainability.
He said: “This internship deepened my appreciation for the critical role of efficient grid systems in achieving a sustainable energy future.”