Environmental Policy and Decision Making ‘23
Environmental and Social Sustainability Lab
Aurora is currently a third year majoring in Environmental Policy and Decision Making. During her time in SENR, she has been involved in the Undergraduate Student Government, worked for the OSU Sustainability Institute and participated in research with Dr. Robyn Wilson on farmer land use decisions in the great lakes basin. After graduation, Aurora plans to become an environmental lawyer working at the federal level.
Read the full interview with Aurora:
A Glance at Aurora’s Research
I was taking ENR 3200 - Environmental and Natural Resources Policy - and as an environmental policy major I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do. My end goal is to go to law school, and I felt as though research would give me a unique skill set that not a lot of candidates applying to law school would have. As a result, I emailed Dr. Berardo, the instructor of ENR 3200, about how I could get involved in policy research, and he told me to wait until next week’s module.
The following week was all about Dr. Robyn Wilson and her work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She was on the scientific advisory board and was asked to step down due to political differences, but she refused to do so. We heard from her all week, and I thought her story and her work were really cool. I realized then that I should reach out to Dr. Wilson and proceeded to email her introducing myself and my interest in working with her. She then invited me to meet, and we came to an agreement that I could research with her with three credit hours in the fall and three credit hours in the spring, which also count toward my research requirement in the Honors program.
When I started out, I had no previous experience in research and was clueless. I was also the youngest person in the room since there were a lot of postdoctoral researchers, Ph.D. candidates, and Master’s students. Regardless of that, everyone is so nice and so welcoming. We do a lot of socializing outside of the lab, and we’ll meet to grab lunch frequently.
All the other members of the lab have more experience and have been so supportive by guiding me and providing one-on-one mentorship. They helped me dip my toes by starting with a literature review about farmer decision-making regarding wind energy. This involved gathering articles, running them by one of the Postdocs, Carrie Shaffer-Morrison, and presenting it to my lab group. After that, I transitioned to working in SPSS, a statistical program, and running descriptive statistics, frequencies, and correlations with the data. I have been writing up these findings so that the researchers can present them to their shareholders who are interested in the research. As more data comes in, I’ve been seeing how it all fits together.
What aspect of your research do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?
I think it has given me much better deductive skills. I’ve done more scientific-based and statistical analysis work. Carrie has mentored me a lot and walked me through using SPSS. The mentorship experience has been super valuable. In addition, it’s been really valuable to practice scientific and academic writing.
What advice would you give to someone who is hoping to get involved in research?
Don’t be afraid to cold-email professors. I fully expected Dr. Wilson to request an interview, but she was super friendly and open to me working with her. Also, don’t get discouraged. Since Ohio State has a research focus, professors are always looking for people to get involved, especially undergraduate students who don’t have as much experience and could use skill development.
Research! I know a lot of people don’t know where to start, so I advise researching the department that interests you and finding a professor who whose work interests you and then reaching out. Even if they don’t have any research opportunities, they can connect you with someone who does. Also, Handshake often has research positions, so make sure to check it out.
"Don’t be afraid to cold-email professors. I fully expected Dr. Wilson to request an interview, but she was super friendly and open to me working with her. Also, don’t get discouraged. Since Ohio State has a research focus, professors are always looking for people to get involved, especially undergraduate students who don’t have as much experience and could use skill development."
College Life and Beyond
What else have you been involved in during college?
I work for the OSU Sustainability Institute in the Communications Department as a Student Communications Assistant. In this role, I interview people who work in sustainability and write up the interviews. I also write short articles about sustainability events happening on campus. I run their data analytics, manage their social media account, and help out with whatever they need me to.
I am also in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. I am on their recycling committee, and I’m an academic mentor. Additionally, I’m involved with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and currently serve as a senator in the 54th General Assembly for the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. Plus, I’m a part of the Sustainability Committee within the executive branch of USG.
Being involved in campus makes me feel empowered that I can make a change in such a big university, even though I’m only one individual student out of about 60,000 students. It has also helped me find people who have similar passions as I do, and working with people across organizations and institutions to make the university better and more sustainable has been really rewarding.
What are your career aspirations at this time?
My plan is to become an environmental lawyer. This summer, I’ll be interning with the US Development Finance Preparation as an Environmental Impact Assessment Intern. Then after graduation, I plan to attend law school for environmental law and hopefully one day work in the federal government as an environmental lawyer.
"Being involved in campus makes me feel empowered that I can make a change in such a big university, even though I’m only one individual student out of about 60,000 students. It has also helped me find people who have similar passions as I do, and working with people across organizations and institutions to make the university better and more sustainable has been really rewarding."
What skills are you learning now that you could transfer to those career aspirations?
I really value all the experience I’ve gained with reading and writing. Being a lawyer involves a lot of writing, and being able to practice scientific writing in which you have to be clear and concise has been a very important skill. In addition, I’ve done so much reading of scientific literature, which has prepared me for all the reading I’ll have to do as a lawyer.
How to connect with Aurora:
Post created April 2022