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Research Club Speaker Series

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Stanford professor Dr. Sally M. Benson visited the Upper School Research Club on Jan. 15 during long lunch to give a presentation on her research about energy, and to give students advice about science related internships.

As the director of the Global Climate Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford University, Benson also talked about the current global energy crisis, and how she was inspired by visits to developing countries to pursue science.

“We have got to stop putting carbon dioxide in the air, and we’ve got to be more energy efficient, but the reality is, many people in the world today still aren’t using any modern energy,” she said. “As they raise themselves from poverty, they will be using more and more energy.”

Currently, Benson works with several graduate students, coordinating research and trying to bring more attention to the energy crisis to Stanford professors.

“I envision an environment where we can all come together and have a conversation about energy because we realize that no one person, and no one discipline can solve it,” she said. “I want the wave of interdisciplinary research, which has become really the norm and standard, being played out in terms of energy at Stanford.”

Benson believes that the energy crisis is currently one of the most important sectors of research, as it will not quickly disappear like other fields. She predicts that the world’s dependence on energy will increase by a hundred percent after modernizing developing countries.

“By raising developing countries to a reasonable standard of living, and having some discipline of our own standard of living, we are going to need about 2 times more energy than we use today,” she said. “That’s a daunting challenge if you think about the energy system we have today, which is already extremely stressed.”

She advises students who are interested in research to not become intimidated by peers and to follow their passions.

“If you are interested in these things [research], don’t hold back, and don’t be your own worst enemy,” she said. “If you think you are interested in science or engineering, just go for it, and I think it will be really satisfying. When I was first getting started as a scientist, I also felt rather intimidated.”

Benson’s talk started Research Club’s speaker series, which aims to bring professors and students who perform groundbreaking research to inspire students. Research Club President, Vikas Bhetanabhotla (12) hopes that these talks will help inspire students.

“We feel that these talks will help students gain a deeper understanding of university-level research, preparing them to obtain internships and conduct successful research of their own at that level,” he said. “Additionally, we feel that these talks can provide an inspiration for students interested in going into academia and research.”

Research Club member Manan Shah (9) enjoyed the talk, and is looking forward to future lectures.

“I hope to see in future talks distinct perspectives on other interesting and important topics, especially regarding breakthrough or paramount research that’s happening currently.” he said. “The talk was a wonderful experience, and I encourage anyone who’s remotely interested in science or technology to come and listen to future guest speakers.”

Research Club plans to have its next lecture in the first week of February. Current students and Harker alumni plan to present some of their past research and give tips to their younger peers.

 

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on Jan. 27, 2014 

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