Thursday, March 17, 2022

UTSA student to present on climate change at international conference

UTSA student to present on climate change at international conference

JANUARY 12, 2022 — UTSA environmental science major Alex Roush originally set her sights on becoming a Roadrunner because of the university’s environmental science program in the College of Sciences, but is now broadening this to include astrophysics. She envisions a path of researching solar system planetary atmospheres to gain a greater understanding of terrestrial climate change.

Roush will apply what she’s learned in the classroom at UTSA to speak at IR2022, an international astronomy conference being held virtually in February and hosted by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Her presentation will highlight the carbon emissions saved by holding the program remotely rather than in-person.


“Alex worked with us on ensuring the materials were clear and helped to get the points across about climate change and atmospheres.”



Roush’s presentation involves carbon dioxide calculations and how engaging in online services, as opposed to traveling and meeting in person, can reduce CO2 emissions. She’ll also compare the reduction in emissions to tangible results, such as the amount of oil barrels saved, or how many trees would be needed to offset the emission if IR2022 were held in person.

Roush hopes to change how her audience thinks by taking the qualitative idea of how it’s better not to travel and presenting a more engaging and quantitative estimate of its true impact on the environment.

Roush is increasing the initial scope of her presentation and tailoring it to a more international approach. She’s taking the list of places from around the world where participants would be coming from, and estimating the total CO2 footprint they would have made had they traveled in person. She’s comparing those figures against the estimated footprint of extra computer power and Zoom servers to show a substantial amount of savings.

At UTSA, Roush has had several opportunities to grow and learn from her faculty mentors. Those experiences helped prepare her for IR2022. She recalls Chris Packham, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, encouraging her to reach her full potential. Last summer, Packham, along with Lindsay Fuller, assistant professor of research in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Carmen Fies, associate professor of STEM education at UTSA, served as faculty mentors to Roush when she helped teach the climate change portion of the San Antonio Teacher Training Astronomy Academy.

“Alex worked with us on ensuring the materials were clear and helped to get the points across about climate change and atmospheres,” Packham said. “We worked closely as a group, and she did an exemplary job.”

Roush has begun mentoring the next generation of students as well. Last October, she began teaching at Girlstart, an afterschool STEM program hosted by Windcrest Elementary. She also recently participated in the NASA L’SPACE Mission Concept Academy, a semester-long workforce training program. Currently, she enjoys helping others feel connected on campus and works as a science mentor at the UTSA College of Sciences’ Student Success Center.


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Roush discovered that her student experience is most rewarding when she engages in her interests.

“UTSA has such a great environment for students. There are organizations for so many different interests, and many of them are warm and welcoming to new students,” Roush said. “There are also so many resources and opportunities for students to improve themselves.”

Ryan Schoensee



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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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