While pursuing her undergraduate studies in economics and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, Vera Wang’s memories of her home in China were bittersweet. Her nostalgia for the sweet aroma of the forest floor she explored as a child was tainted by the reality that, for most of her life, she’d worn a mask every time she went outside.

Now, Wang is acting on her belief that quantitative analysis is the key to tackling environmental problems. Her 2017-2018 Bartlett fellowship project focused on the Array of Things, an innovative urban sensing initiative founded in 2016 by the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the city of Chicago. Under the direction of Professor Robert Rosner, EPIC’s founding director, Wang calibrated and analyzed data from 500 carbon monoxide sensors around the city.

Wang’s time at EPIC gave her valuable exposure to the role that empirical data plays in the design of smart environmental policy. After earning her master’s, she plans to continue to combat air pollution and other environmental issues in a role with a think tank or non-profit organization.