St. Olaf College | News

Student studies air pollution in China with support of Luce Foundation

Alison Curry '19 at Peking University.
Alison Curry ’19 (left) is spending six weeks in an intensive language program at Peking University.

St. Olaf College student Alison Curry ’19 is spending more than a month conducting air quality research and gaining insight from local residents in Beijing, China, with support from the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE).

The St. Olaf LIASE program, supported by a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, enables students to learn an Asian language and study environmental issues in Asia.

Curry, a social work major, is spending six weeks in an intensive language program to better her Chinese language abilities at Peking University.

“I’m really excited to go back to Beijing because I was there in January of 2017 for a study abroad trip but we were only able to spend three days there at the time, so I want to explore more of Beijing,” Curry says.

Student-taken photos of Bejing
Each day Alison Curry ’19 records the air quality index in Beijing (left), and fellow St. Olaf student Megan Skelly ’17 provides her with a comparison photo of Minneapolis (right). Curry will present her findings on campus this fall.

Each day Curry will record the air quality index (AQI) in Minneapolis and Beijing with the help of Megan Skelly ’17, who will be staying in Minnesota. Curry and Skelly will also collect a visual representation of the AQI through photos of the two cities.

“AQI has always interested me,” Curry says. “I will also hopefully talk to some of the native people of Beijing and ask how the air has affected their lives.”

Upon her return to St. Olaf this fall, Curry will present a poster including the AQI findings, photos, and the stories shared by the locals.

“I thought that Chinese would be a really beneficial language to learn, as they are a booming economy in the world. So I gave it a try! I have loved learning the language — although it is a challenge, the professors are so helpful and make learning it really fun,” Curry says. “I love all of the people that I have met from taking Chinese classes. Plus, there is small group of us that take Chinese classes so it’s like a little family and I really enjoy that.”