Carson Scholars: Spreading Environmental Understanding
By Katy Smith
As an environmental scientist, Gloria Jimenez sees it as her responsibility to engage with the general public about her research. “There’s an idea that you can just do your work and somebody else will take it from there in terms of teaching others. I don’t think science is well-served by that,” said Jimenez, an alumna of the Carson Scholars Program and the Agnese Nelms Haury fellowship.
Each year, four of the 10 to 12 Carson Scholars receive support from the Agnese Nelms Haury Program. Each is granted a $5,000 scholarship and is trained and mentored in outreach and communication.
The interdisciplinary program is designed to build a network of graduate students and faculty devoted to furthering their capacity to communicate their work to the public and decision makers.
“The experience has really propelled me forward in ways I wouldn’t have envisioned,” said Jimenez, who will soon complete a geosciences doctorate. She was the first Carson Scholar to publish an essay about her life as a scientist through terrain.org, an online environmental journal, and she continues to give public talks.
“It’s really cool that people from the community will show up to hear me talk about my research,” she said. “With climate change, it’s so important for people to feel they can ask questions.”
Jimenez studies corals from the Galápagos Islands to predict how El Niño will respond to climate change.
Research like this has practical applications for organizations at all levels wanting to take a proactive approach to climate change, Jimenez said, and she hopes to contribute to these efforts as a climate consultant.
Ultimately, Jimenez wants to bridge the gap between high-level research and decision-making. For example, sea levels are rising, but the effects vary in different locations. Her education has prepared her to determine where to build seawalls and what size they should be.
As she prepares to graduate, Jimenez is grateful for all she gained as an Agnese Nelms Haury Fellow—financial support, communication skills and the community she developed with fellow environmental scholars.
“The program benefits from its inclusion of a wide array of people. We have people studying very technical things all over campus,” she said. “The fact that it’s complicated doesn’t mean it’s not important to talk about it, or that it’s impossible to make it accessible.”
A complete copy of the 2017 Spring Patron can be accessed here: http://files.constantcontact.com/f684d916401/1300f54f-0d34-4b54-8aff-854d4bfdda6e.pdf