Melissa Wrzesien will travel to Bergen, Norway and spend about three months interning at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research. While in Bergen, she will work hand-in-hand with climate modelers on validating a downscaled regional climate model which predicts extreme events in western Scandinavia. Melissa will work with meteorological and other previously collected data to determine how well the model is reproducing well-known physical processes, such as precipitation, snowpack, and cloud cover. She will learn statistical skills for estimating the accuracy of the model output by comparing to the known climate of the past, a technique called hindcasting. Melissa hopes this opportunity will better prepare her for both her honors thesis research and her life post-UNC in graduate school.
Shampa Panda will be using her Burch fellowship to travel to the state of Odisha in eastern India to conduct independent mentored research on the collective management of water resources. As an intern with the World Bank funded Odisha Community Tank Management Project (OCTMP) she will analyze the equitable and effective distribution of water resources as determined by voluntary user associations called Pani Panchayats. The results of her research will assist OCTMP in project implementation and capacity building in target communities, especially in regards to marginalized populations such as female-headed households and landless farm families. Shampa hopes to gain a clearer understanding of the various factors that enable effective environmental decision making and will draw upon her summer experience to complete a senior honors thesis on the management of water resources in India. She plans to continue her work with OCTMP after graduation and ultimately attend law school to become an environmental lawyer.