Summer fellowship boosted students’ experience in sustainability

Shreeya Gautam ’21 of Kathmandu, Nepal, and Valerie Doornbos ‘21 of Allendale, Michigan, both took part in fellowships with the Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy. The program usually is held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was entirely virtual this year.

Gautam is majoring in environmental studies and minoring in computer science. “The fellowship required us to participate as panelists in a range of discussions related to sustainability and energy in a virtual conference with energy leaders like Steven Chu, former energy secretary, and Dr. Michael K. Dorsey, who helped give rise to the Sunrise Movement,” Gautam says. “I also collaborated with the American Energy Society to collect data to build energy ecosystems based in Minneapolis.”

Doornbos is a double major in environmental studies and history with a minor in Spanish. “I collaborated with other fellows to investigate various energy sectors within the Des Moines, Iowa, ecosystem,” she says. “I focused on discussing and developing a variety of solutions for pressing energy and environmental topics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, energy policy, social justice, the new energy economy and decarbonization.”

Both students were selected to co-write articles that will be featured in the American Energy Society’s official e-magazine, Energy Today. They also helped write review articles about different presentations during their conference, plus Doornbos is co-writing an article about various energy ecosystems investigated by the fellows.

“This opportunity provided me a great insight on the future of renewable energy as well as my own possible career interest in the energy sector,” Gautam says. “Right after this fellowship, I got interested in energy policies and volunteered as a researcher writing memos for the Wisconsin Climate Task Force committee, specifically under the Energy, Housing and Infrastructure subcommittee.”

Doornbos also found much value in relation to her future plans. “As I eventually want to work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upon graduation from graduate school, this internship helped me to become more familiar with many of the policies surrounding the energy field,” she says. “I was also able to network with several fellows from around the world and gain new perspectives.”
(Photo: Valerie Doornbos ’21, left, and Shreeya Gautam ’21)

Zoe Hazel ’22
Friendship, Wisconsin

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