A Clean Air Summer: Farewell to Our Interns

Jul 31, 2017

Clean Air Carolina has had the pleasure to work with very talented interns this summer. From developing projects for the new AirKeepers Citizen Science program to writing Air Quality Health Reports using EPA environmental justice tools and understanding how we bring together advocacy and education to make air visible in North Carolina, our interns have played a great part in helping us further our mission. Below is an introduction to our summer interns and some final thoughts on their time at Clean Air Carolina. We wish them all the best and we hope they will continue to advocate for healthy air!
Alex Alcorn

Alex Alcorn

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

As a Public Health graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Alex was inspired to work for Clean Air Carolina when she learned about the severity of the negative health impacts of air pollution. During her time at CAC, she worked on program planning for Clean Air Carolina’s new AirKeepers Citizen Science program. Additionally, she supported various CAC and MAHA advocacy efforts such as a contributing blogger, op-ed writer, and editor for the EJSCREEN Air Quality Health Reports. Alex’s experiences at CAC have strengthened her skills in program development and health policy communications, which she hopes to apply to a future career in health advocacy and policy practice.
Brian Kornegay

Brian Kornegay

University of North Carolina, Pembroke

Brian is an Environmental Science student at UNC Pembroke. He was inspired to intern for Clean Air Carolina because of the long-endured issue of air pollution. Brian appreciates those that dedicate time and effort into making our home a clean, safe state for all. Brian is happy to be a part of working for clean air in North Carolina and is actively encouraging everyone around him to be educated on the importance of air quality and do their part.

This summer, Brian worked on monitoring levels of fine particulate matter pollution in low-income areas in Raleigh and Lumberton, areas that are also suspected to have high concentrations of air pollutants. During his time at Clean Air Carolina, Brian learned a lot about particle pollution and the factors that can affect it, researched air quality monitors, how to use an AirBeam sensor, and evaluated different types of air quality monitors.

Brian is interested in pursuing the environmental research field and his experience at Clean Air Carolina has taught him how to conduct detailed experiments and document accordingly.

Sarah Nicholson

Sarah Nicholson

University of South Carolina

Sarah was inspired to work at Clean Air Carolina this summer essentially because she wanted to learn all that she could. Initially, she thought that this summer would be more of an office type internship working with more day-to-day office duties, but she was pleasantly surprised to learn that she would be doing much more than that! Clean Air Carolina’s mission aligns with her own values about air quality and the environment, and she loved being able to learn much more in depth information about topics she already thought she knew and enjoyed.

This summer Sarah worked with the other interns on the AirKeepers Program development to plan the deployment of low-cost monitors all across the state. She also helped plan an event that encouraged neighborhood organizations to use the AirKeepers Program to monitor air quality in their area. She had many other tasks alongside these, but these two were definitely the two that she was engaged with mostly this summer.

Through Clean Air Carolina, Sarah feels she developed many skills that will help her for the rest of her life. From event planning to an EPA presentation review, this internship required a diverse skill set. She was able to see herself progress and improve which was something she thought was really awesome to notice. Working with Clean Air Carolina has prepared her for what her next few years or more have to offer.

Xiriu (Coraline) Xu

Xiriu (Coraline) Xu

Davidson College

Born and raised in Beijing, China, Xirui (Coraline) Xu is currently studying at Davidson College as an environmental studies major. Passionate about atmospheric chemistry and selected as a Sustainability Scholar at Davidson College, Coraline interned at Clean Air Carolina this summer to work on the AirKeepers Citizen Science program and the EJSCREEN Air Quality Health Reports.

For the AirKeepers program, she worked collaboratively with two other interns on project management. Moreover, she also created an asset inventory for potable air monitors in the office.

For EJSCREEN Air Quality Health Reports, Coraline worked with Peija Yan, our intern with Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, on compiling air quality and health data for nine counties in North Carolina. She used EJSCREEN, an online GIS tool developed by the EPA to combine sociodemographic and environmental factors to identify vulnerable population for ambient air pollution.

Coraline’s experience at Clean Air Carolina has enabled her to develop a valuable skill set in data analysis and management, gain first-hand experience in working with a non-profit organization, and understand public engagement in air quality advocacy from both community and policy perspectives.

Peijia Yan

Peijia Yan

Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment

Peijia Yan is currently an Environmental Management graduate student at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Peijia is in the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health concentration and is interested in air quality-related health problems. As an intern with Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA), Peija researched air quality-related health topics, wrote about recently published research, and helped Clean Air Carolina build a North Carolina air quality health dataset. She also worked collaboratively with Coraline Xu on the EJSCREEN Air Quality Health Reports, compiling air quality and health data for nine counties in North Carolina.

Peijia’s personal experience triggers her to fight for cleaner air. She lived close to a petroleum factory for more than 20 years in Guangzhou, China, where the polluted air had health effects on her friends and family. She decided to study environmental science and advocate for clean and healthy air.

As a result of this internship, Peijia has a much deeper understanding of the structure of the U.S. government’s approach to air quality and how non-profit organizations operate. She also learned to use some cool new tools such as EJSCREEN. She was very happy to be a part of Clean Air Carolina and hopes to use her experience in her future work in China.