This summer, environmental science major Allison Brooks ’18 was one of 13 students from across the nation selected to participate in Penn State University’s Climate Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
During the 10-week program, Brooks put her chemistry and environmental science knowledge to the test in the Freedman Research Laboratory. Working alongside a Ph.D. candidate, she studied the influence of atmospheric aerosol particles on the environment and how they are affected by differing levels of humidity.
“In the beginning, this research was very difficult for me because it was so far from anything I had ever done before,” Brooks said. “But at the end of the program, I felt confident discussing my research and I was able to talk about aerosols in general with all of the graduate students in my research group. All in all, it was an amazing experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
This fall, Brooks will study abroad at the University of Reading, England, through the Randolph@Reading program. She plans to share her research from this summer with an international audience at the United Kingdom Aerosol Science Conference at the University of Birmingham (U.K.).
“I am really excited, and nervous, to be presenting at a conference like this,” Brooks said. “It’s primarily going to be aerosol scientists, which is an amazing opportunity to see people from all over working within this field.”
Brooks credited Randolph’s liberal arts curriculum and other research opportunities for helping prepare her for the program this summer and beyond.
“I think my biggest takeaway was that this experience reassured me of my desire to work in environmental science and that Randolph was setting me up to succeed in this endeavor,” she said. “I also became more aware at how much these next two years will help me narrow down exactly what I want to do, and that it is okay to not have it perfectly figured out yet. I have an area of interest and there are nearly infinite possibilities with this area thanks to my preparation at Randolph.”