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U.S. EPA, NASA Provide Summer Jobs, Challenge College Students to Solve Green Problems

Release Date: 08/05/2011
Contact Information: MEDIA CONTACTS U.S. EPA: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov/ Charles Lee, lee.charlesA@epa.gov, (415) 972-3490 NASA: Ruth Dasso Marlaire, (650) 604-4709, ruth.marlaire@nasa.gov


Students take on innovative projects aimed at solving tough environmental challenges

SAN FRANCISCO -- This summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. hired more than 40 college students from around the country to work on site in their San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices.

Both scientific agencies are working together to improve environmental and earth science research, technology, environmental management, and the application of earth science data, models and technology in environmental decision-making.

“As two of the largest scientific agencies in the federal government we’re proud to work with, engage and inspire this next generation of scientists and engineers who will carry our work forward.” said Jared Blumenfeld, U.S. EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Their work on these challenging, ambitious projects has been very valuable.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with our friends at the EPA and share some of the exciting research we are conducting in green technology and Earth science with these college interns,” said Pete Worden, director of NASA Ames. “We hope that this experience has motivated these students to continue working in these important research areas. We look forward to working together in the future.”

The EPA and NASA interns were given an opportunity to work on innovative group projects aimed at solving environmental challenges including: ways to reduce emissions associated with goods movement by improving packaging, examining how to incorporate greener practices in emergency operations, and researching ways to encourage renewable energy technologies in air quality non-attainment areas such as the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley in California.

An unprecedented number of students from California, Texas, Georgia, Michigan, W. Virginia, and New York participated in this innovative program that both agencies hope to repeat in 2012. Students were from more than 15 different colleges, including: the University of California at Berkeley and Riverside; San Jose State, San Francisco State, the University of San Francisco, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, Spelman College, the Georgia Institute of Technology and many more. Each student performed a rigorous and complex individual project supervised by experts from the EPA and NASA, and participated in speaker series events, field trips, and both individual and group skill-building assignments.

Sonam Gill, a graduate student at the University of San Francisco, is spending her time at the EPA identifying the most vulnerable spots within San Joaquin Valley, with particular focus on low income, minority and child populations. This has allowed her to help quantify vulnerability data, which incorporates social justice along with public health so that it can be cost effective for communities.

Rashi Goel, studying at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is working in EPA’s Superfund Division to help address some of the most toxic sites in the nation. Her primary assignment has been a remedial investigation report for the New Idria Mercury Mine in San Benito County, Calif. She was able to visit the site, conduct research, analyze data, and has written a report to analyze mercury contamination from the mine.

Lawrence Reichle, a University of Michigan graduate student, contributed to the Toxics Release Inventory regional analysis which will feed a national database containing information on the disposal of more than 600 toxic chemicals from thousands of U.S. facilities. He helped develop fact sheets to demonstrate how TRI data can be easily used by the public while incorporating environmental justice issues. One of TRI's primary purposes is to inform communities about toxic chemical releases to the environment.

Members of the media:

If you are interested in learning more about the U.S. EPA Summer 2011 Intern Research & Project Symposium, or would like to interview an intern or EPA expert in the near future, please send an email to the media contacts listed above. Please include your name, media affiliation and contact information in your request.

For more information about NASA Ames, visit:

For more information about U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visit: