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Through MCSC, Climate Scholar Pamela Duke Gains Confidence in Sustainability Work

December 13, 2022

Pamela Duke, MIT
"With our very different perspectives, we were able to learn from each other to better understand the carbon capture environment"

Pamela Duke, MIT
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

Pamela Duke is a senior at MIT studying Finance and Economics. She has been working with Impact Fellow Glen Junor since February 2022 as an MCSC Climate and Sustainability Scholar and En-ROADS facilitator. En-ROADS is a global climate simulator developed by Climate Interactive, the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, and Ventana Systems, that allows users to explore the impact of various policies—such as transport electrification, carbon pricing, and improving agricultural practices—on hundreds of factors like energy costs, air quality, sea level rise, and temperatures. We caught up with Pamela to discuss her MCSC experience and how it has set her up for a future in climate finance.

What was a highlight of your MCSC experience?

Despite being a newer organization on campus, the MCSC already has a supportive community of people passionate about climate. Postdocs collaborate with each other regularly and have helped me find resources, even if I am not on their project. I enjoy the community events, from the more casual Friday lunches and teach-ins to well-planned large events like the symposium. This year, I am working with the Sloan Sustainability Initiative and have become certified as an En-ROADS Climate Ambassador to run climate workshops. One memorable experience was having the opportunity to facilitate my first workshop with the MCSC community; I really appreciated their engagement and support.

What is a way you were able to provide new insight and create a meaningful impact on your research team?

Last semester, I worked with Dr. Glen Junor, who has a very different background than mine; while my background is in finance, he is experienced in chemistry. Our project was about carbon capture and sequestration. He helped explain the chemical solvents used to capture carbon dioxide, while I discussed aspects of market competition and financing. With our very different perspectives, we were able to learn from each other to better understand the carbon capture environment.

Coming into this position, was there something, in particular, you were nervous/excited for? How do you feel about that same thing now?

Entering into a completely new industry with a fairly independent project in Spring 2022, I was nervous about being able to develop my own ideas to create a meaningful product. However, I think the project turned well and I was proud of my work, which gives me confidence that I can create a useful resource for this year’s project as well.

What’s something from this program you are excited to apply to your studies after you leave the MCSC?

Through the Climate Scholars program, I have gained knowledge about successes, innovations, and challenges in sustainability. I have realized an appreciation for the breadth and interconnectedness of the system, such as the importance of everyone involved from policymakers to shareholders. When I graduate, I want to work in private finance within the climate and sustainability space, such as advising or investing in renewable energy and climate tech companies. Therefore, I am grateful to have a foundation in the area that will lead to more purposeful and powerful conversations during my career.

Do you have any advice for students thinking of applying to or just beginning a fellowship here at the MCSC?

The MCSC has a great network and projects requiring a great range of skills across many industries. Therefore, there is an opportunity for everyone! I recommend talking to several people (including staff, students, and postdocs) to learn about potential projects and find one that matches your interests and working style. The staff is always eager to help out with any questions and recommendations.

If you could be any kitchen utensil, which one would you be and why?

I discovered the milk frother last year, and it has exceeded my expectations! I would be a milk frother because it is active and moves around a lot, and it is very efficient and thorough with its job.
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