Kirsten Cappel

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
During my senior year at UCI, I conducted research on the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol in combating global climate change. My research was qualitative and based on the secondary analysis of policy, law, and environmental scholars. My faculty mentor was Professor Joseph DiMento from the School of Social Ecology in Urban and Regional Planning.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I was invited to join the Social Ecology Honors Research Program during the third quarter of my junior year. At the time, I was taking a course from Dr. DiMento relating to international environmental management strategies, and we had discussed the Kyoto Protocol in class. I became interested in learning more about the Protocol so I decided that it would be the subject of my research. I then spoke with Dr. DiMento, and we constructed a general research plan. I began my research during the Fall of 1999.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

Conducting research added many benefits to my undergraduate education. Most importantly, I became more knowledgeable about one subject in which I was truly interested. Further, I learned how to utilize the library and its resources and also how to effectively write a research paper. Because of the qualitative nature of my research paper and its length, I also received much-needed practice on my writing skills.

4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

Although the year I spent conducting my research was my most memorable year at UCI, there is one experience that stands out. During the spring quarter of 2000, I attended a conference sponsored by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Washington D.C. that focused on the Kyoto Protocol. International policy makers from around the world and representatives from international environmental organizations were in attendance. At first, I was extremely intimidated by the conference because I was the youngest and least-educated participant. But as I sat through the two-day conference and listened to the speakers, I realized that I could understand most of the discussions and that the participants were considering many of the issues that I had included in my research.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I was just offered a full-time position at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change so I intend to remain in Washington D.C. for at least another year and a half before continuing my formal education. I plan to attend graduate school and to pursue a Master’s degree in environmental studies and public policy. Ultimately, I would like to have a career as an international environmental policy maker.

My research on the Kyoto Protocol and the knowledge and experience that I gained is one of the main reasons that I was offered this position at the Pew Center. In addition, as a result of my research, I developed and improved my writing and research skills and I learned to utilize various computer programs, such as Power Point, that have made me an effective asset to and employee at the Pew Center. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in global climate change policy at one of the most internationally-renowned environmental organization.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

Don’t wait! I would encourage all students to focus on something in which they have an interest and then to speak to a professor who has similar interests and ask him/her to be your mentor. Make certain that you select a professor with whom you have developed a close relationship or you feel comfortable because you will spend an entire year working with your mentor. Once you have begun your research, do not procrastinate and keep to a schedule so that you do not fall behind. Good luck and enjoy yourself!

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '00 Chris Gothard
Nov. '00 Kristoffer Nicolaisen
Oct. '00 Bryan Sommerse
Sep. '00 Ryan Stafford
Aug. '00 Carol Chao
Jul. '00 Gopi Manthrapagada
Jun. '00 Heather Smith
May '00 Pany Tehrani
Apr. '00 Kirsten Cappel
Mar. '00 Shelly Brown-Riddle
Feb. '00 Nader Nassif
Jan. '00 Rebecca Kanter
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