Photo Courtesy of Emily LiuThe amount of questions regarding our planet, its environment, and its climate have increased within the past couple of years as new opinions and studies disprove global warming. However, despite these resurfacing concerns, Emily Liu, a senior and an active advocate for the health of the environment, has worked to bring attention to the science and effect of climate change on ourselves and the environment.
Liu was recently awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for her studies involving North Carolina’s climate. The award was given to 16 participants from K-12 across all 50 states for their outstanding environmental projects.
Liu has always been interested in science, but her love for the subject truly began in elementary school.
“In fourth grade my teacher read us ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ and I just remember by the end of reading time I was bawling my eyes out,” said Liu. “I was very amazed and very interested, sad, and scared at our future.”
Liu is an alumna of the Climate Leadership and Energy Awareness Program (Energy Leap), a summer program, run by Dana Haine, in which high school students are able to conduct hands on activities that examine society’s current use of energy. Through the program, she was able to create her winning project, titled, “Climate Leadership and Outreach: Connecting Air Quality and Renewable Energy.” In this study, she was involved with research, leadership and outreach, focusing on how pollutants affect air quality and what renewable energy could replace these harmful pollutants.
After receiving the award, Liu traveled to Washington, D.C. for a ceremony and to network with EPA and government officials, specifically she was able to talk to the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, regarding the future of environmental science. Through this process, Liu was able to learn more about the process involving change in environmental science.
“There’s a borderline between environmental science and politics and it’s hard to keep it separate,” said Liu. “From that experience I have learned that I really like the public policy and public health aspect of environmental science rather than researching in a lab. I think that’s what I would want to go into.”
Liu sat alongside 16 different K-12 students, some of whom were very young
“The projects that the little kids did were so incredible, I was like how are you this young, but doing something so great,” said Liu.
Through the experience, Liu discovered her career path within environmental science.
“I’ve always been interested in science, but what I love about environmental science is that it’s a global issue,” said Liu. “It doesn’t just affect me or does not affect you, it affects everyone, and it’s not just limited to being a science issue, but it’s also a public health issue, a social justice justice issue, it’s a humanitarian crisis.”
By Maggie Sperry, Managing Editor