Learning by doing
As an undergraduate, Andea Scott, ’20, loved the coursework for her major in energy resources engineering: chemistry, physics, computer science, and courses like Sustainable Energy for Nine Billion. But she reached outside of her own department to look for a field research opportunity.
During spring 2018, she began working with Earth System Science professor Kate Maher, Dana Chadwick, PhD '17, and others through the Stanford Earth Summer Undergraduate Research (SESUR) program to better understand the cycling of carbon in the Earth system. “After my finals, I flew out to Colorado and hit the ground running,” Scott said. For two and a half weeks, they collected samples of leaves, roots, and soil as planes loaded with remote sensing equipment flew overhead.
Upon returning to campus, Scott helped prepare samples and run them through an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) machine to identify nutrient concentrations. In addition to helping process the full suite of samples, Scott analyzed preliminary data for her own project, Calcium and Phosphorous Levels in Fine Roots Across Species and Elevation in the Rocky Mountains, which she presented in October. “I probably had the best first research experience that I could have ever imagined having,” says Scott, who is earning research credits for her continued work on the project during the school year. “Kate and Dana allowed me to have a lot of independence, but when I needed them they were there.”
Scott is now a graduate research assistant exploring short-term solar power system forecasting with the Environmental Assessment & Optimization Group led by associate professor Adam Brandt.