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"Urban Scholars for Climate Change" grant brings awareness to our own backyard

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

Captions: (photos 1 & 2) Jocelyn Romano and Justin Santiago discussing early stages of each other's projects.; (photo 3) Professor Russell Gambino, Arianne Bakelmun and Justin Santiago discussing the advantages of the program. (photo 4) Justin Santiago watering plants in part of one of the projects. Photography by Jenny Hernandez.

Story by the "Documentation Team" - Arianne Bakelmun, Jenny Hernandez, and Advisor Dr. Christine Waldeyer

In March 2022, PCCC was excited to receive “The Urban Scholars for Climate Change” grant—a grant that seeks to bring awareness to the effect climate change has on our environment, specifically in our local, urban setting.

The grant is being coordinated by a collaborative effort of PCCC’s STEM Department and the B2B-Bridges to a Baccalaureate program headed by Dennis Reer and Thom Van Aken respectively. Coordinators Russell Gambino, David Hernandez, and Kathleen Vancheri can be found assisting student teams working on projects in the STEM Makerspace Lab through August.

The Urban Scholars for Climate Change students are each paired with a faculty advisor. Jocelyn Romano and Judiht Hilares are being advised by Professor Thomas Van Aken; Matthew Proano and Gabriella Robles by Professor Joshua Sabatini; Stephlyn Buchanan and Aksarpuk “Gain” Mullane, and Justin Santiago by Professor Erica Foote; Franklin Sami and Abimael Fidanque by Professor Mark Yuschak of Kean University ; and Arianne Bakelmun and Jenny Hernandez by Dr. Christine Redman-Waldeyer who make up the “Documentation Team” from Visions.

Samples from drinking water, river water, air and vehicle emissions are being sampled and analyzed. A carbon footprint calculator (computer program) is being written to raise area residents’ awareness of the problem and what individuals can do to help.

The grant ensures that minority students are represented and have the opportunity to build connections with their research and in their chosen fields.

Because climate change is a serious and an often ignored danger our world faces, it’s critical that students today understand how it impacts their own environments because they will be our field researchers and voices for change in the future.

There is an increasing rate of climate disasters happening both around the world and close to home. The model at which we are contributing to climate change and carbon emissions is not sustainable for the environment to support or recover from. By bringing awareness to these issues and supporting it with tangible data, this grant will hopefully spur action that helps the fight against climate change and ensures a livable planet—specifically highlighting local data that brings the issue home instead of it being an abstract, far-away reality.

People are more likely to care when it’s in their own backyard.

Look for more updates on the project at this summer.

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