This past week, I was sent to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, as an observer and member of Princeton University’s delegation at COP27. The trip was sponsored by Princeton’s Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE) and allowed me to sit in on climate negotiations, hear from phenomenal world leaders, speak to activists on the ground, and mull over more deeply the path I want my own career to take.
While the trip was daunting at first, our delegation soon found its footing and made the most of the atmosphere at COP. The pavilions were bustling and chaotic. There was a seemingly endless spread of panels, events, and meetings to attend. Negotiations proved an invaluable opportunity to experience international diplomacy firsthand. The input of my friends and colleagues on the trip greatly enriched my own thoughts and takeaways of the conference. Their experiences, along with my own, are briefly summarized on a blog hosted by C-PREE and will be made into a longer article to be published in the near future.
To me, the most rewarding aspect of COP was witnessing firsthand the full gamut of careers with strong climate impact. I encountered diplomats and activists not in isolation, but as members of a complex ecosystem of professionals across the public and private sectors. I return home with a better idea of how diplomacy and activism co-occur and with new perspectives on effective forces for change. I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to incorporate these observations into my own life and plans moving forward.
Edit, January 8th, 2023: Thanks to C-PREE for publishing this article on our collective experience at COP27.
I had a great time at the Ivy+ conference at Columbia this past weekend. I attended with several other members of the Princeton Graduate Student Government; the session was an opportunity to discuss student life with leaders (students and administrators) at peer institutions. I participated in sessions on sustainability, housing, mental and physical well-being, innovation, funding, and campus spaces. I was deeply glad both to speak to the areas where Princeton excels, and to learn about mechanisms for change in the aspects of student life where we have room for growth.
And, as a bonus, I couldn’t have chosen a better group to travel with.
I was fortunate enough to have spent the past four months with the Office of Policy at the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. This summer was a chance to engage deeply with the science policy work which I have, until now, had to watch from a distance.
The beginning of this internship had me diving right into the deep end. By the end of my time at DOE, I had earned my sea legs and was writing testimonial and high impact briefings, pulling together slide decks and memos for internal use, drafting and giving presentations, and reading and summarizing tax codes and bill text.
I was also deeply lucky to have been present at DOE during the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act; to see the tireless work of so many federal employees come to fruition with such landmark legislation was incredibly moving and only further solidified my passion for public policy.
I am deeply grateful to all of my mentors and colleagues at DOE and at Princeton for a successful summer. I cannot wait for my next chance to engage in public policy.
Our last PCS event of the academic year was a successful one. PCS members enjoyed the chance to hear more about AAAS programs and their associated application processes. I have heard back from a number of members that the session strengthened their resolve to apply for the fellowship post-graduation. I certainly share the sentiment, myself.
We are infinitely grateful to this team at AAAS for taking time out of their schedules to join us. Professional development events like this one are undeniably critical components of a successful graduate career. This was the perfect way to wrap up a fantastic year for Princeton Citizen Scientists.
I was thrilled to arrange and lead the 2022 Princeton Citizen Scientists trip to Washington D.C. in tandem with my fantastic co-exec board. In this session, we met with staff at the Library of Congress and the National Academy of Sciences. We got a tour of the premises for the latter, as well. We had a mixer with local science policy professionals, and ended with visits to representatives.
PCS members broke into three groups for the visits – one advocated for STEM education, one for energy policy, and one for solutions to food insecurity. I joined this third group, and got the opportunity to learn and speak about the critical problems posed by (and potential solutions to) food deserts in the United States. Staffers at each senator’s office had vastly different backgrounds and approaches to the conversations – this trip was a great chance to experience The Hill firsthand.
Because of my election to the Graduate Student Government, I will be stepping down as president of Princeton Citizen Scientists next year. I deeply enjoyed the job, and eagerly anticipate the chance to join this trip again next year as a [non-leadership] participant.
Now that results have been ratified by the assembly and sent to the student body, I can announce that I was recently elected Academic Affairs Officer to the Princeton Graduate Student Government. This position will be a chance to work on two issues close to my heart, which were the core of my campaign materials: accessibility in funding and graduate student mental health. When requested, I will also serve as a mediator between Princeton students and their deans.
I have already loved the few executive board meetings that I have participated in. I am thrilled to work with such a driven group of passionate Princetonians.
I am thrilled to have contributed to this collaboration between the ZERO Lab and the REPEAT project and am deeply impressed with the results that the team pulled together. Zenodo publication information is available here.
This past week, a few fellow graduate students and I led a course on science policy and science communication. We concluded our course with a panel of faculty experts in academia and advocacy.
One of the materials I created for the class was a worksheet that led students through effective policy communications. This morning, we received the following feedback via email:
“During high school, I was part of my Congresswoman’s Youth Advisory Group and often wrote her letters to ask for her support in different health-related bills. I always had trouble organizing my ideas, and I think the format of the worksheet made it much easier for me to write a letter last night. Instead of focusing on the letter as a whole, I was able to think of each section […] separately.
“I sent my letter to my representative last night, and I received a response this morning. […] I just wanted to let you know that your workshop truly encouraged me and gave me the skills I needed to contact my representative and advocate for change”.
I am over the moon with the feedback we have gotten so far and am deeply grateful to my co-facilitators and our panelists for the great workshop that we pulled together. I am glad that I was able to contribute to campus life here at Princeton. I am also happy to have driven home the importance of advocacy work as an extension of science. The purpose of STEM studies should not be the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake; using science to advocate for change is what makes research so critically important.
I am looking forward to inviting Dr. Deborah Stine to Princeton for this half-day workshop. Princeton Citizen Scientists will be hosting this event in conjunction with GradFutures – it promises to be a great day for all interested in pursuing policy after Princeton.