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Teresa Heinz Environmental Scholars

Each year, the Steinbrenner Institute awards Teresa Heinz Environmental Scholarships to students, whose research demonstrates their commitment to the environment. The Teresa Heinz Environmental Scholar Program provides support for doctoral dissertation and master's thesis research. Qualifying research must have public policy relevance that increase's society's understanding of environmental concerns and proposed solutions. For more information about the Teresa Heinz Environmental Scholarships visit http://www.hfp.heinz.org/programs/environmentalscholars.html.

2007-2008 Scholars

Two Carnegie Mellon PhD Candidates and one MS candidate have received Teresa Heinz Environmental Scholarships for the 2007-2008 year.

PhD Candidates ($10,000 each)

Ms. Melissa L. Chan
Department: Engineering and Public Policy
Title: Life Cycle Analysis of Options to Generate Electricity from Coal
Summary: Given our demand for electricity, it is inevitable that coal will be a fuel source for electricity generation for the foreseeable future.  This research will look at the life cycle environmental impacts of coal usage.
Policy implications: Life cycle analysis is a decision support tool to be used for the transparent and objective evaluation of fuel alternatives.  It is very effective in helping to apply science to policy.

Mr. Constantinos T. Samaras
Department: Engineering and Public Policy
Title: Life Cycle Assessment of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles and Energy System Infrastructure Evolution: Policy Actions for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
Summary: Hybrid vehicles can reduce oil consumption but the adoption of plug-in hybrids might not reduce green house gas emissions as much as expected do to the electricity that is required to recharge the batteries.  This research develops that mechanism that can look at the life cycle impacts.
Policy implications: There is a strong policy connection in this research.  As alternatives to conventional practices emerge, it is important the policy recommendations and decisions be based on the life cycle impacts.

Master’s student ($5,000)

Yun-Shang Chiou
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering/ Architecture
Title: Virtual Metropolis for Smart Growth Policy Analysis – an Agent Model for Urban Fossil Energy Demand
Summary: This is an exciting interdisciplinary project that looks at greenhouse gas emissions from a complex (but real) ‘metropolis’ level.
Policy implications: The policy connection is very strong in that the results will help to understand energy consumption factors that can be considered in smart growth guidance.

2006-2007 Scholars

PhD Candidates

Heather Wakeley

Title: The Future of Hydrogen as a Transportation Fuel

Summary: This research addresses critical yet little-studied aspects of using hydrogen as a transportation fuel: the environmental, economic, and safety impacts of potential production and distribution systems. Heather is building an optimization model of hydrogen production and distribution for the transportation sector, which will be used to generate trajectory scenarios for the transition to hydrogen. She will then be able to evaluate the pros and cons of each scenario, taking into account the effects on the different stakeholders (suppliers, refueling stations, vehicle owners) and the social feasibility. These results will provide key insights to guide public policy makers as we enter into the uncharted territory of building a new transportation fueling system.

Paulina Jaramillo

Title: Best Use of Natural Gas: A Life Cycle Comparison of NG/LNG Consumption for Different End Uses

Summary: This research is a life cycle comparison of natural gas (from different sources) and coal for different end uses. In this analysis, Paulina compares greenhouse gas emissions from the entire life cycle as well as emissions of SO2 and NOx. She is completing the analysis for electricity generated using these fuels and will then look at the life cycle of transportation fuels produced from coal and natural gas viaa the Fischer-Tropsh  reaction. These types of comparisons can help us decide what are the best uses of these non-renewable resources.  

Britney McCoy

Title: How Big is Big? Characterizing Oil Refining Upset Emissions

Summary: Upset emmissions from petroleum refineries are excess emission events that occur during plant start-ups, shut-downs, maintenance, malfunctions, and flaring accidents. These emissions contain benzene, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfate, sulfur dioxide, butadiene, and other volatile organic compounds. Several reports, including EPA's Office of Regulations and Enforcement (ORE) Enforcement Alert, indicate that refinery upset emissions are underreported to the Toxic Release Inventory Program. Although EPA maintains that all upset emissions are violations of the Clean Air Act, they generally do not penalize offenders. Rather, they leave it to states to promulgate regulations and take enforcement action. However, in many states regulation is poor at best with inadequate reporting standards and/or informal "automatic exemption" policies.  

2004-2005 Scholars

PhD Candidate

Kathleen McDonough completed her bachelors of science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University and a master's degree in Environmental Engineering from Georgia Tech. She worked as an Environmental Engineering Consultant for Law Engineering and Environmental Services and Earth Sciences Consultants. Her Carnegie Mellon research was entitled: "Temperature Effects on PCB Fate and Transport in Anaerobic Near-Surface Sediment."

Master’s students

Paulina Jaramillo was born in Colombia, South America. After graduating from high school, her family immigrated to the United States. She completed her undergraduate studies at Florida International University in Miami, where she was honored with the Outstanding Civil and Environmental Engineering Student Award. Continuing her education at Carnegie Mellon, she has been involved in the Green Design Institute. She has worked on a cost-benefit analysis of landfill-gas-to-energy projects that includes environmental costs and benefits. Her research also deals with life cycle issues of photo-voltaic cells and the materials used to manufacture them. Some emphasis will be placed in comparing this technology with more traditional sources of energy such as coal, nuclear and natural gas. 

Kimberly Kinder moved to Pittsburgh from Alaska to pursue a BS in Architecture at Carnegie Mellon. She then studied Urban Design and Environmental Policy and helped establish a graduate level collaboration program with Carnegie Mellon and University of Oxford.  Her thesis was an analysis of the way natural resources and movements towards urban ecological sustainability can be used to promote urban revitalization. Kim developed a stream restoration proposal for Pittsburgh's Hill District.  

For more information about the Teresa Heinz Environmental Scholarships please contact Deborah Lange, dlange@cmu.edu.