Alena Zhang CC’21 has been selected as a member of the cohort for the prestigious Global Sustainability Scholars Program (GSS), a paid, three-year summer experiential learning opportunity that fosters professional development in the STEM field of transdisciplinary sustainability science and innovation.
The seven recipients were selected for the 2019 Sustainability Food, Energy, Water NEXUS GSS cohort based on their passion, self-direction and scholarly talent. The student-scholars were selected from a pool of 70 applicants from 36 universities in 19 states.
A sustainable development and creative writing double major from Syracuse, NY, Zhang is currently the communications intern at the University’s Center for Global Energy Policy. She also writes for Consilience: the Journal of Sustainable Development, is director of curation for TEDxColumbiaUniversity and serves as a resident advisor.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Global Sustainability Scholars cohort this summer,” said Zhang, who last year was a scholar in the Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship Program, which offers first-year Columbia College students the opportunity to pursue independent research projects. “The program is a way to get in touch with contemporary happenings in the international research world around the issues of food, water and energy sustainability. It will provide me on-the-ground insights into subjects that otherwise I'll only be able study in classes and constantly wonder what's really happening right now.”
This summer, Zhang will spend six weeks with her fellow scholars studying urban sustainability at the intersection of food, energy and water needs. The survey course will take place at Belmont Forum Collaborative Research Action project sites located in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.
In Summer 2020, Zhang will work on a self-chosen research project as part of a group internship— one of five available Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative projects — and in her final eight-week long engagement in 2021, will take on an individual capstone project that builds on her research project from the previous year.
Zhang credited the Core Curriculum with having guided her interests. “At its core, the study of sustainable development is a study of humans,” said Zhang. “Thus, my Core classes, which are founded on intimate and lively conversations between authors, teachers and a diverse body of fellow students, have given me the greatest set of ideas to influence and inform my study of sustainable development.”
Based at the University of Colorado Boulder, GSS is made possible by National Science Foundation funding and through close collaboration with Future Earth, a research and innovation organization focused on sustainability science. Along with provided travel and accommodations, scholars receive a stipend.