Sunday, January 2, 2022 – Lawrence, KS
One of my ongoing activities is the grant that I have been trying to get from the Sierra Club to work with undergraduate students. In fact, it all started at the beginning of the Fall semester when I was wondering what opportunities would be available for PhD students to have joint activities with undergraduate students. In my mind, it was beneficial for both undergrads and PhD students. PhD students could gain mentorship and teaching experience and undergrads would gain exposure to research endeavors. I started by asking around in our school whether such programs already existed. I was advised to contact some some people out of our school as they had more experience in that area. I met with them online or communicated via email and they provided me with helpful information. At some point, I decided to look for funds to support the students that I wanted to work with. So, I started sending emails to local firms and organizations who had any kinds of connection to energy projects. I never heard from private firms but it turned out that the Sierra Club was interested in my proposal. At first, the project was very vague to me as well. Ty Gorman and I had some video calls together. We both explained what we had in mind and what our expectations were. Gradually, we both (mostly I) gained a clearer vision of what the project would look like. I asked for $1,000 but they kindly offered me $5,000. It was then that I realized what I had in mind was much more important than I even imagined. Also, I realized how much Sierra Club was determined in addressing energy and environmental justice issues. Our communications went on for a few months. I had to come up with a detailed plan for the project and Ty was working on financial aspects. To be honest, the financial aspect of the project was super complicated. We examined multiple ways to be able to run the money. At this point, I am not still clear how the financial side would work but I am optimistic that we will find a way. I contacted the undergraduate director in our school today so she can spread the news about the position. I am excited about this project. I feel like it's going to turn out a wonderful experience. At the same time, the time commitment and the responsibility of working with a student sounds intimidating. I want to go through this experience and I am positive it is a good one.