Drew Hill - Guatemala
Internship locations: Berkeley, Calif.; Antigua and San Lorenzo, Guatemala
Career goal: To advance public health by studying and mitigating the effects of anthropogenic air pollution on health and climate
The first nine weeks were spent consulting with a Berkeley-based social venture firm. There, I lead an initiative to compare biomass energy projects registered with two high-profile carbon finance registries. I also designed a field study to test the specific size distribution of improved cook stove emissions. This study took me to Guatemala for three weeks, where I performed measurements in a typical Guatemalan kitchen. While in Guatemala, I attended a conference on cook stove research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and toured the world’s first air pollution intervention RCT field site with Nobel co-laureate Kirk Smith.
Value of experience:
My internship provided me with an invaluable look into the workings of a successful environmental health social venture. I learned proposal writing, intra-office communication and field research skills from veterans of environmental health and climate advocacy, and was afforded many opportunities to mingle and network with leaders in these fields. Perhaps most importantly, my involvement in the full life-cycle of a research project allowed me to see field research in a more realistic light: very few things in the field proceed as they are planned in the office. This realization was difficult, but ultimately I came out of it with greater confidence and a better understanding of my abilities.
I learned a great deal from doctoral students, post-docs and professionals while working this summer, and am most pleased with the friendships and working partnerships that I made along the way—relationships that I’m sure will be long-lasting.
Drew Hill - Guatemala
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A haze of bluish smoke billows into a soot-blackened kitchen. This is typical in many Guatemalan homes.
Trying my hand at tortilla-making on a coffee plantation in Antigua.
An example of the most-common cook stove intervention in Guatemala: the plancha. With a chimney that carries smoke from the combustion chamber to the outdoors, this type of stove can dramatically reduce exposure to indoor air pollution.
A traditional Guatemalan sauna in the foothills of San Lorenzo. Hot coals keep the sauna stones (left) warm as water from the pots (right) is poured over them to make steam. Use of such a sauna can lead to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide.
An improvised field-lab located in a kitchen in Antigua. This is where I collected the majority of my Guatemalan field data.
My equipment costs ranged from .75 cents (top left) to $7,500 (top right). Fortunately, people from the Berkeley Air Monitoring Group, the University of California, Berkeley, Household Energy and Health Research Group and the Clean Air Task Force were able to lend me most of it.
Ashes are weighed after a successful emissions test. It is important to keep track of carbon at all stages of the test.
A standard air pump (right) channels stove emissions to two carbon monoxide monitors. The brass connector (center) was improvised from a local auto parts store after a more-sophisticated piece of equipment failed.
Nick Lam of UC Berkeley works to coordinate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conference on cook stoves in Antigua. This was a typical setting for data-crunching.
Wood is the dominant source of household energy in the mountain village of San Lorenzo.
Pieces of a plancha-like stove are inspected at an Onil stove factory in central Guatemala.
I was able to visit the site of the world’s first air-pollution intervention randomized control trial in San Lorenzo. Here, lead author Dr. Kirk Smith, regales us with the trials of conducting such a study in the context of a developing nation.
Exploring field sites with fellow CDC conference members in San Lorenzo.
Boiling water with an “improved” cook stove intervention—known as a rocket stove. Manufacturers claim these stoves use significantly less wood than open fires.
My internship preceptor, Dr. Michael Johnson of the Berkeley Air Monitoring Group, helps me design an air-sampling device for my study.
Taking measurements in my backyard in Berkeley. About half of my data were collected in Berkeley and the rest in Guatemala.
A bona-fide lab environment—a stark difference from the improvised field-lab in Antigua.
The kitchen simulator I had hoped to use for the Berkeley phase of data collection. It was blown apart by a brisk summer wind shortly after this picture was taken.
At the Santa Anita race track just outside of Los Angeles. My summer schedule left time for exploration.
The Bay Area is a great place for bicycle adventures, and San Francisco was just a short distance from my Berkeley apartment.