Spotlight on Students

Emily Gargulinski

gargulinkskiEmily Gargulinski knew from a very young age that she wanted to help rid the world of pollution. She began her undergraduate studies in chemical engineering, but quickly realized she was looking for a different kind of experience and a research area that actually targeted air interaction. One thing led to another and she found herself pursuing the Climate Impact Engineering concentration here at the Climate & Space department.

“Seeing the effects of pollution on humans and the environment really motivated me to pursue an area of study that dealt with long term impact of human activities,” she says.

Emily is originally from Detroit, but grew up in Chesterfield, MI. “I have family that went to graduate school here,” she says, “so it was always in my mind. Near the end of high school I realized I wanted to strive to be the best, so I thought Michigan would be the best fit for me.”

And so it is. During the summer prior to her junior year, Gargulinski and three others from the department took a trip down to down to Lubbock, TX to assist the team at Texas Tech University in severe weather tracking. “We spent a month chasing severe storms around to try to capture tornadoes in picture and Doppler form.”

This past summer, Emily was selected for the prestigious Sally Ride Internship at NASA. The program, which commemorates the legacy of astronaut Sally K. Ride, the first American woman in space, gives students the opportunity to work side by side with scientists and engineers. “I applied on a whim,” she says, and did not expect to hear anything back. But she did, and soon found herself working with Dr. Gao Chen, a physical scientist who works in NASA Langley's Science Directorate.

“I mostly did data managing, which included standardizing aircraft emission variables in both description and usage,” Emily says. “The data is sorted, made presentable, and posted for public use by researchers to help them hopefully improve fuel and engine eco-friendliness. Everyone there treated me like family and it only increased my desire to study emissions and air quality. Hopefully I will be able to help them again next summer and work on Ozone sampling of the atmosphere.”

Emily will graduate with a bachelor’s degree this April, but she plans to pursue a Masters of Engineering in Climate Impacts. “After I graduate, I'd really like to assist in research at NASA, and in the very long term hopefully go back to school an earn a PhD.”

Emily credits her time in the Climate & Space department for helping her determine her path. “It was sort of by chance that I ended up here, but I am very glad I did. The faculty to student ratio is amazing. I feel like I am part of this community, and not just another student.”