Applied Climate Experience

The Applied Climate Experience (ACE) is the capstone project for the CCS Master’s degree. It is an opportunity for hands-on experience with a variety of hosts ranging from NOAA to communication leaders in the industry. We pair students with mentors from climate-sensitive fields at the beginning of the program in their desired field of study and career path. This exposes students to exciting opportunities to display their talents and network with potential employers.

The ACE project is designed to be flexible for the student. The student may choose to work on it throughout the school year or limit it to the summer after classes have ended. Most students choose a project during the spring semester and are done by the end of the summer.

Some of the current and past projects are listed below.

2018 ACE projects

Lydia Campbell’s ACE project is with the NC Sea Grant. She will be surveying existing data on flood frequency, rainfall, and evapotranspiration in several Eastern NC counties including Hyde, Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Chowan. The idea is to identify the existing data that is relevant  to the needs of both planners and the agricultural sector in those counties. All of these are Tier 1 counties, which have seen tobacco leave and are also currently in the middle of various arguments about solar energy farms. The goal is to take the data, understand its relevance to agricultural land use suitability, and figure out what kind of messaging and risk communication is needed in order for county and municipal planners to effectively convince legislators to take appropriate action.

2017 ACE projects

Kara Geiger’s ACE project was based at the State Climate Office of North Carolina. She studied the sensitivity of livestock heat stress to climate change and variability. Specifically, she focused on dairy cattle and how lactation, fertility, and reproduction are affected.

Christian Erickson’s ACE project was with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh NC. He worked in the visual investigate lab to produce an interactive presentation exhibit on invasive species and climate change. The particular species of focus was the Lionfish.

Eric Wright’s ACE project was done in collaboration with the State Climate Office of North Carolina. He investigated the sensitivity of blackberry production to climate variability. Understanding how climate variability affects maturity dates of blackberries can help blackberry producers in North Carolina manage production risks, optimize yields, and coordinate delivery of products to fresh markets.

Crystal Yelverton’s ACE project is with the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, under the direction of Mary-Stuart Torbeck. Crystal was responsible for the publishing of an op-ed that was submitted and printed by the Progress-Index newspaper in Petersburg, VA (circulation‎: ‎12,937) as well as an LTE that was submitted and printed by the Richmond Free Press (circulation of more than 35,0000). Crystal was selected as one of the presenters for the Sierra Club’s Defend Not Defund Science: The Importance of Climate Science Roundtable event. She was responsible for the creation of a lesson plan for teachers to educate students on climate related issues as well as environmental injustices for Project WET and Learning Tree. While there she created a children’s e-book for the Sierra Club that explained what climate change was, who and what will be impacted and how individuals can make a difference in their communities and the world.

Kara Piarulli’s ACE project was with NOAA NCEI for the development of a climate and weather data lesson that students at the high school level were exposed to, allowing them to learn more about climate change. This lesson also allowed for an investigation on the best approach for teaching about climate change as well as some of the resources that are available for teachers and the general public.