Having the opportunity to study at Harvard University is an example of the circumstances that I have been privileged with that represent “The American Dream” – a phrase that I heard often while being raised by two immigrant parents from Costa Rica. Both of them were able to accomplish a great deal while coming from very meager means. After arriving to the United States with only one-hundred dollars in his pocket and no plans, my father quickly flourished. He earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science while concurrently working full time and raising a family. From my father and mother, I have learned and applied the lesson that honest, hard work will bear the fruits of success. Likewise, I appreciate the privilege of a good education and the opportunity to work to my fullest potential. In recognition, it is one of my foremost values to give back when possible. It is a principle that defines my work ethic, shaping my career path and project choices.
The physical sciences and the processes that result from the interaction of complex physical and environmental conditions always have been fascinating to me. The resulting behavior, while seemingly unpredictable, can often be elegantly explained by physics, chemistry, mathematics, and logic. This attraction to the solvable allows me to pursue scientific subjects with curiosity and passion.
During my time at Harvard University as a chemistry and physics concentrator, many new opportunities became available to me for exploration and pursuit of advanced science. This later led to my work as an undergraduate researcher in the aerosol optics laboratory of Dr. Hans Moosmüller at the Desert Research Institute (DRI). My passion for scientific research, has allowed me to continuously expand my role in this laboratory, and has helped shape my career goals.
Morphological and optical properties of combustion-generated carbonaceous aerosols have been two of the most challenging topics of research in the field of aerosol science. Both sets of properties have a profound effect on the global radiation budget. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported a large uncertainty in current estimates of direct radiative forcing due to aerosols from biomass burning, implying an urgent need for better understanding and characterization of aerosol optical properties, such as with atmospheric brown carbon. This motivates my research plan for brown carbon (BrC) that I will conduct for my graduate studies. This research will provide improved understanding of the influence of certain aerosols on the global radiation budget. As a result, scientists will be able to better quantify and model the influence of these aerosols on radiative transfer and climate. One of my goals going forward in this area is to establish a systematic channel for the dissemination of scientific findings, including those relating to climate change to the nation’s high schools and post-secondary educational institutions. This has led to an interest in educational technologies, specifically online academic collaborative platforms.
In 2007, I co-founded what would become a national award-winning academic networking platform ClassCommon.com. A proposed platform to fulfill this need is under development as the Global Climate Change Education and Networking (GCCEN) platform, and was motivated by several stakeholder meetings that I co-coordinated with Dr. Rajan Chakrabarty between administrators, researchers, and teachers from DRI, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Washoe County School District.
This year, a proposal that I worked on with Dr. Chakrabarty was funded by the NSF EPSCoR program titled, “Climate Change Collaboration, Education, & Outreach.” The project aims to implement an online academic platform for the dissemination of research findings related to climate change to high school students.
A more comprehensive project has been proposed to the NSF Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program through submissions to the MSP-Start Partnerships and Targeted Partnerships. My role in these projects is as the lead technical developer of technologies and liaison with WCSD and local high school faculty.
As a student, my primary goal is to establish myself as a researcher utilizing my abilities to advance science so that it may be employed to serve environmental and social goals. I will continue to pursue topics in varied and often disparate research areas (e.g., education technologies versus atmospheric science). I believe that research is best conducted from an interdisciplinary standpoint, meshing advanced concepts from different fields of study to develop transformative solutions for modern day problems. As I embark on what will become a life-long research career, I will continue to pursue topics that will always have a positive and meaningful influence for humanity.
Left to right, Top: Mark Garro, Michael Gallaspy, Hans, Rajan Chakrabarty , Eric Wilcox,, Kurt Ehlers, Garrett Frey, Marcela Loria, Nic Beres, Ben Sumlin
Bottom: Narayan Adhikari, Ian Arnold, Mahdu Gyawali, Pat Arnott, David Karr