DegreePh.D. in Environmental Sciences & Policy
I was part of a Bass Connections team in my first semester. It allowed me to discover how you can pursue interdisciplinary research here at Duke, engaging different stakeholders from different levels.
The idea was to launch a suite of energy systems analysis tools that were created with participation from undergrads, master’s students and Ph.D. students. We created several elements that were really useful for my dissertation. For example, we explored tools that actively used geographical information systems (GIS). After seeing the potential to fully integrate GIS analysis into the tools, I spoke with my advisor and she encouraged me to complete a set of GIS-related courses. That became one of the core components of my dissertation.
Two chapters of my dissertation explore the role of using GIS to take better decisions in the energy realm, integrating geospatial analysis into energy planning systems analysis. Aside from my dissertation chapters, I collaborated with one of the groups’ postdocs who has since taken a faculty position in China. We assessed China’s potential to support their energy transition on renewable energy. I’m one of the lead authors, as I designed and performed the GIS analysis to quantify the potential to build photovoltaic (PV) and wind farms.
Participating in Bass Connections helped me identify and integrate one of the ideas that was missing from our analysis, and I was able to gain expertise on that. One of my dissertation committee members is a GIS expert; I drew him into my committee because I want to do interdisciplinary analysis.
I had been dreaming about the possibility of being a teacher for a long time, and engaging with students at different levels drove so much passion in me and connected me to the idea of being a mentor here at Duke.
But the most important thing is that by participating in Bass Connections, I was able to work not only with people in my doctoral energy team, but I was able to engage with undergrads, master’s students and postdocs. Many of my most fruitful experiences at Duke have been working with them.
I’ve been able to work with undergrads (I teach a course here), and I have been able to mentor grad students. I also mentor first-generation undergraduates. I’ve been able to work as a client of master’s and professional students, I’ve worked alongside my peers and I’ve collaborated with postdocs. Everybody brings a different ingredient to the recipe. It’s fascinating, and I think it’s one of the best things that I’ve ever experienced. And it was possible, in part, because I was exposed to Bass Connections pretty early in my time at Duke.