Climate Change Motivates Camras Scholar

How does one begin to tackle one of the biggest problems facing humanity today? For Megan Harmon, the answer is simple: just do what you love.

“I chose to be an environmental chemistry major because I love chemistry, but I am also interested in climate change science, atmospheric science, and renewable energy,” Megan says. “I feel that these are important applications of chemistry.”

Since arriving at Illinois Institute of Technology as a Camras scholar in 2021, Megan has been especially attracted to atmospheric and water chemistry as a focus. In particular, she hopes to better understand the relationship between Earth’s atmosphere and pollutants, and how that affects us humans on the Earth’s surface.

“I have always been particularly interested in seeing how pollutants interact with the environment, because there are so many factors that it's cool to see the pathways of these chemicals as they interact with air, water, and soil,” says Harmon. 

In her first two years at Illinois Tech, Megan has already dove headfirst into research opportunities, both on-campus and at an summer 2023 internship in a research lab. Looking forward, she expects to pursue an advanced degree with a more distinct concentration within environmental chemistry.

“I intend to continue my education in graduate school, which will allow me to focus on a specific aspect of environmental chemistry,” Megan says. “My ideal job would be analyzing the effects that new forms of energy have on the environment by examining how certain chemicals affect the atmosphere and ocean.”

Before she gets there, however, Megan’s focus remains on staying involved within the community at Illinois Tech. In addition to her research, she’s been a teaching assistant and resident adviser, as well as a member of numerous on-campus clubs. Her end goal remains the same: make a difference in solving the climate crisis by doing what she loves.

“I would like to step into more leadership roles next year and become more involved in research,” she says. “In the coming years, I would like to get experience in other organizations involved in addressing climate change concerns, in both the private and public sectors.

"The environmental chemistry program at Illinois Tech has allowed me to pursue my love of chemistry and interest in climate change science, atmospheric chemistry, and renewable energy. Illinois Tech has given me opportunities to get involved with research and interact with faculty due to smaller class sizes. I’m appreciative of scholarships like the Undergraduate Kilpatrick Award that have made it possible for me to participate in the amazing chemistry program Illinois Tech has to offer."