2015 – 2016 GCSC Fellows

Vanessa BaileyVanessa Bailey
Department of Geography

I grew up in rural Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where I studied Geography and German. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, drawing, and reading.

At the University of Utah, I am working toward my Master’s in Geography, studying climatology and other areas of physical geography. Working with Dr. Simon Brewer, I plan to focus on climate modeling. I am interested in relatively short-term changes primarily on the North American continent during the past few thousand years. While I was earning my B.S., I had the opportunity to participate on a study abroad trip at a sustainable energy company in Germany. It was there that my eyes were opened to the significance of sustainability. With my research, I hope I can help distinguish between the effects of natural phenomena and the impacts of human activity on climate in order to help direct policy to limit both climatic changes and their societal impacts.

Cassandra GallegosCassandra Gallegos
College of Law

Originally from Tucson Arizona, I moved to Salt Lake City at an early age and have pretty much grown up in Utah. I held interdisciplinary interests throughout undergrad by receiving a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Philosophy from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. While in Oregon I also received my Permaculture certificate and I remain an avid gardener and love the outdoors.

As a student of S.J. Quinney College of Law my research interests involve raising awareness of legal issues pertaining to animal law and environmental law. I have always been interested in how states can work to strengthen regulations governing factory farms that promote both sustainable and ethical changes. I will be working with various faculty of the College of Law on my research project during my time as a GCSC Fellow. I am so grateful for the support of the GCSC to enable my pursuit of interdisciplinary studies at the University of Utah and I look forward to working with the other Fellows.

Nipun Gunawardena
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, I spent my youth engaging in various outdoor activities and reading. I received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah, where I decided to stay to do my Ph.D.

I am working towards my Ph.D. under Dr. Eric Pardyjak from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and we work on topics related to environmental fluid dynamics. Currently, I am working on developing low-cost, distributed embedded systems that can be used to take atmospheric and environmental measurements over varied terrain. I then apply machine learning algorithms to this data to produce meaningful conclusions from the data without resorting to physics-based models. Ultimately, I would like to increase the performance of both the measurement and analysis systems in environmental applications.

Julia Howe

Julia Howe
Department of Geology and Geophysics

A native of Charleston, South Carolina, I headed further south for college and received a B.S. in Geology and a B.A. in Spanish from Florida State University. During my undergraduate career, I had an internship with a local geotechnical engineering firm that inspired my interest in the overlap between geology and engineering.

I am specifically interested in geologic hazards; the mechanisms that cause them, and also the way communities make efforts to prevent and remediate them. As a reflection of this interest, I will be working towards an M.S. in Geological Engineering with Dr. Paul Jewell studying earthquake hazards along the Wasatch Fault in Salt Lake City.

Meaghan McKasyMeaghan McKasy
Department of Communications

A native to the Pacific Northwest, I moved out east to attend Boston College and earned a BA in Communication, with a minor in Environmental Studies. After four years in Boston, I realized that I missed the west, and so I moved to Salt Lake City to attend the Environmental Humanities Graduate Program at the University of Utah. Following the completion of my Masters degree, I spent four years working in alternative energy in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.

Through my work in renewable energy I started to notice the array in social perceptions of alternative energy. I am interested in how people respond to certain language, messaging and framing of ideas with regards to energy production and usage. More so, what is it that influences society’s perceptions and values, and from that how do we create cultural change with regards to our energy selection? I will be exploring these questions while working towards my PhD with my adviser Professor Sara Yeo in the Communication department.

Crystal PainterCrystal Painter
Department of Atmospheric Sciences

I grew up at a summer camp on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. I then moved to Southern California to attend the University of Redlands, where I studied environmental science and physics, played lacrosse, and was an outdoor trip leader. I studied abroad in Kenya and Tanzania, where I had the opportunity to do field research for wildlife management. After graduating, I moved to The Republic of Palau in Micronesia, where I worked as a natural history kayak guide and spent my free time scuba diving and exploring the ocean. My work with ecological sustainability is interconnected to my interest in earth sciences. After living through Typhoon Haiyan, which tore straight through Palau, my interest in atmospheric science was ignited.

In the University of Utah¹s department of atmospheric science, I will be working with Dr. Ed Zipserto research the global distribution of precipitation, using satellite estimates and more detailed data from surface-based field campaigns. Some of the outstanding unanswered questions relate as much to understanding current global and regional climate as they do to future climate. One such question is whether flood-producing rainstorms are more closely related to the intensity of individual storms, or to the larger-scale circulation systems that determine the environment of storms.

Lauren ZuromskiLauren Zuromski
Department of Atmospheric Sciences

I was born and raised in Florida and received my B.S. in Meteorology from Florida State University. During my time as an undergraduate at FSU, I studied heavy rainfall events in the Southeastern U.S. as my Honors Thesis. I also held two internships in Pullman, WA, and Fairbanks, AK, researching Washington’s air quality and impactful Alaskan weather events, respectively. Now as an Atmospheric Sciences M.S. candidate working with Dr. John Lin, I will be conducting air quality research by looking at CO2 emissions.

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