PKG Social Impact Internships: Juliet Liao (’23)

Juliet Liao is a sophomore from Westchester, NY. She is studying Mathematics and Computer Science, as well as pursuing a minor in Energy Studies. She has spent her IAP working remotely with Northwest RiverPartners, an organization that works to support clean energy and hydroelectricity in the Pacific Northwest through research and education. As a research intern, she has been working on projects relating to the carbon emissions of renewable energy, as well as the relationship between ocean warming and salmon mortality. 

Juliet Liao (’23 | Course 18-C)
The Intersectionality of Renewable Energy

A major undertaking of this internship has been to educate myself about climate change under the scope of the Pacific Northwest. One facet of climate change that I have been studying pertains to the potential of renewable energy, and deducing the competitiveness of the various types. Specifically in the Pacific Northwest, 81% of renewable energy comes from hydropower. While hydropower is the leading renewable energy source, there is a lot of apprehension met with building dams. One substantial opposing view to hydropower is the direct effect it has on salmon — which are vital to wildlife in the Pacific Northwest and sacred to many Native American tribes. 

With Northwest RiverPartners (NWRP), I have learnt the importance of orienting this global issue of climate change on a more localized scale. Decreasing carbon emissions to tackle climate change in the Pacific Northwest is just as important as the concern for salmon mortality, a topic that has moved people to suggest dam removal. 

Thorough research into hydroelectricity and its relationship to salmon is shared with the public to help educate the population about the benefits and detriments of hydropower. My mentor has written several op-eds in different papers about the importance of dams, calling on scientific research he has read. 

Similarly, I have had the opportunity to divulge into research papers pertaining to ocean temperatures and acidification, and the effect it holds on the salmon population. I compiled an array of information to write about the trajectory of ocean warming and the relationships in the marine ecosystem that could change. I hope that my work at NWRP will serve to educate the region about the potential of hydropower, and that it can influence support for the dams in the Pacific Northwest under review for dam removal. Different ocean currents, wildlife, etc. play a role in the environments that are reacting to climate change, and has made me realize that there is so much importance to becoming familiar with even just one region’s ecosystem. Despite my short time with NWRP, I have taken away a great understanding of some of the greater implications that even come along with steps toward climate change mitigation.


Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for Spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!

Tags: Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships IAP 2021

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