Institute Funds Record Number of Student Grant Projects for Summer 2023

The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society is thrilled to announce receiving a record number of summer 2023 Student Grant applications and has awarded 19 Dartmouth undergraduate and graduate students funding for a diverse range of climate and energy focused projects and experiences. 

The Institute's Student Grant Program offers up to $5,000 for enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who are advancing the Institute's mission of transforming humankind's understanding of energy issues, and driving the creation of ideas, technologies, and policies that improve the availability and efficient use of energy for all people.  

"We are delighted to see such strong growth in interest in energy, climate and society among Dartmouth students," said Irving Institute Academic Director Amanda Graham, "and are thrilled to be able to support such a wide range of projects and activities this summer." 

The program, which has been supporting student research, professional development, and educational activities in the climate, energy and society space since 2018, aims to foster learning through experience; inspire creativity, and directly involve students in accelerating transitions toward socially and environmentally sustainable energy futures.

Congratulations to all the awardees. Learn more about the funded projects and activities below:

Jason Acosta Espinosa '24, Politics, Philosophy and Economics Major
Jason will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support an independent research and film documentary project, "Politics, Power, and the Petrostate: The Role of Oil in Venezuela," which focuses on the intersection of socioeconomic development and oil dependence. His research provides a critical analysis that explores how oil projects' multifaceted relationship with developing nations hinders the need to and their ability to shift away from fossil fuels. 

Alexandra Farnell '24, Earth Sciences Major
Alexandra will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support attendance at the International Union for Quaternary Research Conference which is focused on paleoclimate research. Alexandra's current interests focus on climate changes at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, when climate transitioned from glacial to modern climate conditions.

Julia Huddy, Thayer School of Engineering Graduate Student
Julia will use Irving Institute student grant funding to present her paper, "Large-Area Uniformity Mapping of High-Speed Flexography-Printed Perovskite Solar Cells via Scanning Photoluminescence," at the 50th IEEE Photovoltaics Speciality Conference. Julia's research focuses on a method for scaling fabrication technologies of perovskite solar cells, which have the potential to provide terawatt-scale energy capacity.

Baptiste Gibrat, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Graduate Student
Michael May, Thayer School of Engineering Graduate Student

Michael and Baptiste will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support their travel to Uganda as part of a project for their ENGS-172.2, Techno-economic Analysis in a Developing Country Context class. They are constructing a biofuels network model for Uganda with four graduate students currently in Uganda.

Anna Hugney '24, Engineering Major
Emily Liu '24, Engineering Major
Jack McMahon '24, Engineering modified with Computer Science Major
Rujuta Pandit '24, Engineering Major
Avery Widen '25, Engineering modified with Computer Science Major

Five members of the Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineers' DHelios Project, which is developing a novel system for institutional kitchens in sub-Saharan Africa to substitute traditional biomass fuels for solar water heating, will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support the team's second work trip to Uganda. In Uganda, the group will expand and improve their system at UCU and teach the system design to local Ugandan engineers and entrepreneurs. They plan to double the size of the existing prototype, improve existing pump control and sensor technology, work collaboratively with local engineers from the Smart Girls Uganda foundation, and explore new sites to plan for further expansion. 

Beam Lertbunnaphongs '25, Environmental Studies Major
Beam will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support her involvement in a faculty-led research project, "Visualizing Water Conflicts: Mapping Contested Hydropower Projects in the Mekong Basin." The goal of the project, led by Geography Professor Chris Sneddon, is to develop a more nuanced way of understanding energy and water conflicts that gives more weight to the notion that such conflicts are not simply about access and competing uses but equally about fundamentally different understandings of energy-water-society relations.

Richard Lytle '24, Geography Major
Richard will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support an independent research project, "Impacts of Dam Construction on Hydrologic and Geomorphic Change in Rio Coca" which analyzes hydrologic and geomorphologic effects of large dams on rivers, mainly erosion and decreased sediment flux downstream of the dam. The study will both fill a research gap on the effects of large dams in tropical environments and contextualize the hydrologic and geomorphic impacts of the dam into global economic and political processes.  

Ansh Motiani '26, Computer Science Major
Ansh will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support his summer internship with New Climate Ventures, which helps entrepreneurs turn their own ideas and visions into successful companies. Ansh will be spearheading the firm's climate investments in the artificial intelligence space by creating a database of potential investments in agricultural technology, advanced analytics and forecasting, smart grids and IoT, and more. He will also work on potential investments and figure out methods to automate deal flow and research. 

Lan Nguyen, Ecology, Evolution, Environment and Society Graduate Student
Lan will be using Irving Institute student grant funding to help obtain a subset of data for her dissertation project, "Mangrove Blue Carbon: A Potential 'Mediator' for a Happy Relation Between Shrimp Aquaculture and Mangrove Restoration?" The project's goal is to understand the extent to which the integrated mangrove shrimp systems have been implemented and contributed to mangrove restoration efforts, and their associated climate change mitigation services, looking at the Mekong Delta as the main study system.

Vedang Puranik, Chemistry Graduate Student
Vedang will be using Irving Institute student grant funding to support an independent research project, "Building More Efficient Energy-Storage Molecules." The project aims to enhance understanding of methods to improve the efficiency of molecular solar thermal (MOST) energy storage systems with an aim toward contributing to a real-life MOST storage device. 

Vibhuv Reddy '25, Engineering Major
Vibhuv will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support his participation in a faculty-led research project, "Additive Manufacturing of 3D Mesostructured Earth Abundant Catalysts for Green Hydrogen Production." The project, led by Assistant Professor of Engineering William Scheideler, is focused on reducing the cost of green hydrogen production by developing a scalable, additive manufacturing method to enhance the performance of earth abundant crystals in the catalysis of water. Vibhuv will be assisting with multiple methods of materials characterization including thermal gravimetry, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and x-ray diffraction. 

Carter "Street" Roberts '24, Quantitative Social Science Major
Street will use Irving Institute student grant funding to help support a faculty-led research project, "Equity Within FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)." The project, led by Engineering Professor Klaus Keller, will delve into the gaps between equity in existing hazard adaptation literature and equity within FEMA's hazard adaptation programs with a specific focus on equity within FEMA's NFIP program.

Joel Wilner, Earth Sciences Graduate Student
Joel will be using Irving Institute student grant funding to support his participation in a faculty-led research project, "Evaluating Topographic Controls on Tropical Glacier Extent and Moraine Distribution." The project, led by Earth Sciences Professor Meredith Kelly, will assess how variations in both topography and climate influenced past glacial extents in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy mountains of Colombia. The proposed research will clarify a foundational link between glacier extent and climate in tropical glacier systems, ultimately paving the way for future studies to interpret glacier records and climate change with higher fidelity.

Kate Yeo '25, Environmental Studies and Government Major
Kate will use Irving Institute student grant funding to support her attendance at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, where policymakers from around the globe negotiate the agenda for the UN COP conference at the end of the year. It is a technical and legal space that will provide an opportunity for Kate to apply what she learned in the classroom, and at COP27 last year.