Reducing air pollution boosts undergrad’s success
Lauren Janicke’s work studying and analyzing inefficiencies in electrical transmission and distribution networks led to a journal publication, an internship, a scholarship, and the Judith Resnik Award.
Not long after Lauren Janicke attended one of Destenie Nock’s guest lectures, she reached out to ask if she could work on her research team.
Luckily, the answer was yes. Nock, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy, has broad research interests using mathematical modeling tools to address societal problems related to sustainability and energy, which were a good match for Janicke’s interests and inspired her decision to major in civil and environmental engineering and minor in environmental and sustainability studies and led to her also pursue a second major in statistics and data science.
The pairing has led to some remarkable opportunities for Janicke, including having led a study that was recently published in Energy, an international, multi-disciplinary journal in energy engineering and research. Janicke and the research team estimated the air pollution generated through inefficiencies in transmission and distribution (T&D) networks, examined opportunities for reducing emissions through regulation at the multinational and sub-national scales, and compared the cost of these potential emissions reductions to the cost of investment in renewable energy.
Janicke says that it was not a problem to make the time for the research project, which ultimately identified that investment in electricity T&D systems to be a significant opportunity for reducing air pollution.
“It’s been easy because I like the research work even more than the class work,” admits Janicke.
Her initial assignment was to create a scenario-based model to quantify the amount of carbon dioxide, atmospheric pollutants, and particulate matter emissions associated with the T&D of electricity in the continental United States, was later expanded to a global analysis for 146 countries. The work gave her the opportunity to learn ArcGIS software that can analyze and transform data into interactive web maps.
She later worked on a project where she applied her budding statistical skills to create visualizations in an analysis of how snowfall effects Uber and Lyft usage in Chicago. She spent the summer after her sophomore year building her data science skills working on research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. And during the summer of 2022, she had a 10-week, full-time, paid internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through her Ernest F. Hollings scholarship, which also provides up to $9,500 for each of two years of study.
It’s been easy because I like the research work even more than the class work.Lauren Janicke, Student, Civil & Environmental Engineering and Statistics and Data Science
Janicke says that Nock was a great mentor, and the opportunities she had to conduct research helped her determine the type of work she wants to pursue. After she graduates in the spring, she plans to pursue master’s and Ph.D. degrees.