Caryn Yip, Ph.D. student, Occupational and Environmental Health
Measures effects of climate change
“Caryn is using state-of-the-art research approaches and has assembled a remarkable mentoring team, uniquely available at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City VA Hospital. Her research has the potential to dramatically improve estimates of the social costs of carbon that are the backbone for assessing costs and benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.” – Peter Thorne, Professor and Head, Department of Occupational & Environmental Health
• Hometown: Rosemead, California
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Professor Peter S. Thorne
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Occupational and Environmental Health, expected graduation date: Summer 2022
• Please describe your research: Hurricanes and wildfires are associated with a wide range of detrimental health effects in the general population and are increasing in frequency and severity due to global climate change. U.S. veterans have poorer health when compared with the general population, which may make them especially vulnerable to these disasters. My research focuses on the effects of these disasters on the cardiovascular, respiratory, and mental health of U.S. veterans.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? We hope to improve veterans’ health and quantify the health effects associated with climate change to forecast and monetize future burdens, as health effects are often ignored when calculating the costs of climate change. We also hope that this research can inform the development of policies and programs that will build resilience in communities that experience climate-exacerbated disasters.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started participating in research projects for our lab group during my first semester at the University of Iowa. I began my own research project during my second year here.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? As climate change research is interdisciplinary, I’ve had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with professors in different Colleges at UI, giving me valuable insight and a more nuanced view of this issue. Research has also improved my critical-thinking and communicative writing skills and has allowed me to expand my skillset in statistical and geospatial analysis. While there are still many unanswered questions in climate change research, my training at the University of Iowa has equipped me with the necessary skills to tackle these challenges.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation, I plan to continue contributing to climate change and sustainability research at the state or federal level. I hope my research will inform new policies and programs that will help us adapt to climate change, while assisting the communities that are most impacted.
• Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain. Pandemics and the spread of infectious diseases are like climate-exacerbated disasters in that both will increase in frequency and severity as the planet continues to warm. One of the lessons COVID-19 has taught us is the importance of prevention and early response. We’ve also learned that pandemics and disasters affect communities very differently, and oftentimes, those that are most vulnerable to pandemics are also most vulnerable to climate-exacerbated disasters. As we respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with new policies and programs, we can see the importance of building resiliency into the system, especially in our most vulnerable communities.
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