Vivian Yao, 2017, Undeclared

This summer I interned for the Climate and Energy Team at the Asian headquarters of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) where I focused on coal cap and shale gas research. Stationed in the world’s most polluted city and China’s capital, Beijing, I had the opportunity to travel to all corners of the city to meet influential experts and policymakers in the field of environmental protection. I was able to sit in on strategic steering committee hearings regarding the development of China’s coal cap regulations, and to attend events held by the U.S. Embassy for the 2014 Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a series of meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials on the balance between the environment and rapid economic prosperity. These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities provided me with a means to obtain the most recent and groundbreaking research and data to analyze. Our team produced fact sheets and reports to inform not only policymakers and government officials but also the Chinese community. Beijing is beginning to see an unmistakable correlation between health complications and the worsening air, water, and soil pollution. This summer allowed me to hone in on the clear relationship that exists between various branches of science and human health, and it encouraged me to continue on a science-focused path at Princeton.