Dianabel Perez knows she wants to do a research project on “Community Education Methods on Climate Change.”
But that’s about all she knows at this point.
A senior at the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Perez admitted: “I’m kind of falling behind,” followed by a slightly contrite smile.
The 10-page research paper and in-person presentation aren’t due until next spring, so she has some time to dive into the topic. That’s one reason she recently spent two hours at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library, learning ways to do research using the library’s resources.
Ten UTC Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science female faculty members have volunteered as research mentors for the 43 CGLA students working on biology-based projects.
“I’m just hoping that they can give me advice or ideas for my senior project because I’m kind of lost on what to do,” said Perez, who plans to enroll in UTC after she graduates from CGLA in the spring.
Dr. Gretchen Potts, department head for Biology, Geology and Environmental Science, said the department is always looking for ways to connect with the local community, and the chance to work with CGLA was a perfect opportunity.
“All the faculty in the department participate in continuous outreach efforts with the community,” she said. “This year, the CGLA Senior Projects provided a unique opportunity for 10 women faculty members from BGE to mentor these graduating students.
“When I asked the department for volunteers, these 10 women immediately responded to my call. Some have volunteered in previous years, but this year marks the first time we have sponsored 10 mentors.”
The hope, she said, is to maintain an ongoing relationship with CGLA to “continue to promote student success.”
The projects being mentored by UTC biology faculty include:
- Major Point Sources of Ocean Pollution: Francesca Leasi and Stephanie DeVries
- Urban Planning with Clean Energy Alternatives: Jodi Caskey
- Using Recycled Material to Address Flooding in Urban Areas: Hope Klug
- Creating a Community Recycling Program: Mary Feely and Monica Miles
- Innovative Ways of Addressing Paper Waste: Meredith “Callie” Adams
- Community Education on Methods of Addressing Climate Change: Sarah Farnsley
- Pollution: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse: Jennifer Boyd
- The Effects of Community Gardens on Air Pollution: DeAnna Beasley
Although she hasn’t worked with any CGLA students yet, Caskey said one of her objectives would be to “guide them in achieving their goals in a realistic manner.”
“We can help them narrow their focus and come up with a testable hypothesis to address their ideas,” said Caskey, an associate lecturer who joined the UTC faculty in 2013.
During the seminar at UTC, Instruction Librarian Virginia Cairns and Online Services Librarian Natalie Haber showed CGLA students efficient ways to conduct online searches and where to find trustworthy information.
Andrew Forrester, a scientific research instructor at CGLA, accompanied the students on the UTC trip.
“My job is to instruct the students on all aspects of scientific research, including background, gathering data, analysis and presentation of result,” said Forrester, one of four senior advisors at CGLA. “Most of the work is to be done by the student. Mainly I am here to keep them on track.”
Jazmya Knighten is on track quite well. She’s tracking down different methods various countries use for energy production and the environmental impact of each.
“I just thought it was a really good idea that different countries had different ideas. Everyone has their own power source,” said Knighten, who plans to enroll at UTC.
Some countries are going green to address climate change; others are still using coal, copper wiring and power sources that are “really dangerous for the environment,” she said.
In explaining her project, she used terms like HVAC (high-voltage alternating current) and HVDC (high-voltage direct current) that most would associate with heating and air conditioning but also relate to large electric networks.
Learning how to use the UTC library will help her dig deeper into her topic “so I can get better information on where I could find articles and stuff like that.”
“I want to find something that’s going to grab everyone’s attention and really show that it could be beneficial to the environment,” Knighten said.