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Bella Brownwood ’19

environmental studies - chemistry

Hometown: Nevada City, California

How Reed changed me: Reed provided a space in which I could try out and become involved in a huge array of activities, allowing me to explore different facets of myself. I was able to step into leadership roles, which was different for me. I gained a lot of confidence in my abilities to make change, motivate people to act, and connect with people who can help me get stuff done!

Awards, fellowships, grants: I received an Environmental Studies Summer Experience Fellowship for the summer of 2018 to go to Jülich, Germany, to participate in an international collaborative research campaign. 

Thesis adviser: Prof. Julie Fry [chemistry]

Thesis: NO3-iniated Oxidation of Isoprene: Oxidation Mechanism and Aerosol Formation

What it’s about: I am simulating the reaction of NO3 and isoprene that occurs in the atmosphere. NO3 is formed from the interaction of ozone and NOx, which is an anthropologically controlled emission that comes from any combustion reaction like car engines or power plants. Isoprene, an organic compound, is the largest plant volatile organic compound (VOC) emission globally. The product of this reaction is a secondary organic aerosol (SOA), which can condense on other particles to form particulate matter in the air. I am trying to quantify how much particulate matter in the atmosphere from this reaction will increase as NOx emissions increase. To do this, I am looking at the aerosol (particulate matter) yields under conditions that vary the ratio of NO3 to isoprene. 

What it’s really about: Learning how to fill a bag with air; also, keeping track of 7+ data files and 3+ data workup files per experiment.

In high school: I kind of tried to stay under the radar, was generally reserved and unopinionated.

Influential professors: Every class I have taken with the ES faculty has been amazing and also influential in how I think about my environmental interests, both scientifically and socially. Professors Julie Fry, Noelwah Netusil [economics], and Chris Koski [political science] in particular have been mentors in and outside of the classroom, supporting me immensely in scientific research and attempts at furthering campus environmental sustainability, and helping me access invaluable resources, opportunities, and connections.

Cool things: Greenboard, Sunny Day Sorbet, Sustainability Committee, Reed Mountaineering, Reed Co-Ops, Reed Community Garden, Reed Outing Club, Reed Tango Club, Brewers Guild, and the Outdoors Center.

Challenges I faced: Balancing my extracurricular activities with my schoolwork has been a challenge. I do so many things and love all of them, but it’s easy for me to forget about schoolwork completely if I am doing something else. Now I write neurotic hourly schedules before each week starts so I don’t forget anything.

What’s next: I am going to spend a while living out the passions I developed at Reed (climbing and dancing) that I was unable to completely invest myself in while taking classes.

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