Annual Science Symposium Presents Breadth of Student Research

Dr. Daniel P. Schrag of Harvard gives the keynote speech of the President's Science Symposium on Oct. 18.

Dr. Daniel P. Schrag of Harvard University presented the keynote speech of the President’s Science Symposium on Oct. 18.

In a Common Hour speech that kicked off the annual President’s Symposium on Oct. 18, climate scientist Daniel Schrag of Harvard University spoke of the importance of flexibility in the face of rising CO2, and highlighted the vital role of young scientists in today’s society – an apt message for the nearly 100 Bowdoin student researchers who presented posters of their work throughout the afternoon.

Schrag, who serves on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, urged audience members to embrace affordable energy alternatives, which he said will ultimately surpass small-scale reductions in emissions in effectiveness. “This is a point that goes against a lot of the conventional wisdom and climate policy right now,” Schrag said, largely because the actions he recommends will only begin to show results decades from now. “We’re asking people to pay money today for their grandchildren and beyond,” he said. “You can understand why politically it’s a tough sell.”

The very uncertainty of our planet’s future, he continued, underscores the vital role of scientific research in today’s world. “As a young scientist, it means there are a lot of important, really good problems to work on,” Schrag said.

Following Schrag’s speech, Bowdoin students showed that they’re already on it. Four student researchers were featured as lecturers (Justin Duri-Agri ’15, Beatriz Malbiran ’14, Nicholas Wetzel ’14, and Adam Zhang ’14) and dozens of other students filled Smith Union with posters on their research – related not only to climate but to a host of scientific problems in biology, chemistry, earth and oceanographic science, mathematics, and more.

Photos by Rebecca Goldfine

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