Jessica Xu | Post-bacc | Environmental Economics and Policy
CAS Student Ambassador | OSU MANRRS Treasurer | Los Angeles, CA
The Perfect Fit
I've always been interested in environmental issues, and some experiences I had while traveling made me decide to pursue it as a career. As I got more involved with the environment through volunteering, I began to notice the impact that economics has on these issues. Since I've always been stronger in the math and social science disciplines academically, Environmental Economics and Policy just seemed like a perfect fit for me. I'm particularly interested in climate change, so I hope that at least some of the work I do in the future can help mitigate the negative effects of climate change from an environmental justice standpoint. Ideally, I would love to be working on environmental and/or economics issues from within the governmental sector.
My very first research experience was with Christy Brekken, a professor in the Applied Economics Department in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Alongside her and one other undergraduate student, we put together an inventory of energy efficiency and renewable energy incentive programs which were applicable to residents of Corvallis. I thought it was a really great experience because I was able to get involved with the local community and with a topic that I was personally very interested in. It was a very educational and rewarding first research experience because our inventory actually ended up getting published on the City of Corvallis's official website as well.
Hobbyist at Heart
Something interesting about me as a student is that this will actually be my second bachelor's degree. My first one was in filmmaking, and while I decided that working in the film industry was not for me, as a hobby, I still enjoy making vlogs, mostly for places that I've traveled to or any fun events that happen in my life. Some of my other hobbies include traveling, watching Chinese dramas, and hiking with my dogs. I've also previously done a bit of translating work as well.
While I haven't physically gone anywhere for my degree, especially as I started studying in this field in the midst of the pandemic, one cool thing I've done so far was my remote internship during summer and fall of 2021 with RTI International, a research institute based in North Carolina. My main project during that internship was a quantitative and geospatial analysis on the potential increases in crop yields and revenues which could result from installing solar-powered irrigation systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was interesting to do a project based on a location very far away from me, as I learned a lot about needing to include factors which I might not normally think about when doing economic analysis in more familiar locations. One example was that we needed to account for the difficulty of transporting crops to market from more remote locations when thinking about potential revenues. And, I liked that the internship was different from classwork, such as while in class, we learn all the steps needed to arrive at the solution. In my intern work, much of it was that we had a result we wanted to arrive at, but we had to think for ourselves on how to get there.
For incoming students, I would say to never be afraid to reach out, ask for help, and get involved! Having had some experience at other schools, and even hearing from friends at OSU who are in other colleges, I feel like CAS's faculty and staff are super welcoming and really want to help you succeed. In previous schools, I was definitely more of the type of student who just went to class and didn't stick around, mostly because I felt intimidated by my professors or felt like there wasn't really anyone who I could reach out to regarding any questions I had about school, experiential learning, etc.
Here at OSU, AgSci has been great in providing me with many opportunities through classwork and experiential learning to develop those technical skills needed for my career, as well as with leadership and professional development opportunities, such as through the organizations I am in. The staff and faculty here have also been incredibly helpful when it comes to things like preparing for graduate school or getting that first job. I've felt that I really do have the support I need, such as from my professors, my advisors, and the Academic Programs Office. Now that I've been more involved, I've come across so many more valuable opportunities and experiences!