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Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight - Brendan Buchanan

Is there a particular teacher, project, or Field Study experience that gave you a new perspective or changed your outlook on society?

Dr. Hurst and my Extended Essay. Dr. Hurst has been instrumental in changing the rest of my life for the better with her class ESS. Studying climate change and understanding the vast tapestry of interconnected environmental systems and our societal systems has been incredibly informative, and I feel as if I can see the world in a whole new lens. Furthermore my knowledge of atmospheric systems and science has improved vastly in respect to the Ozone-layer in the lower stratosphere, photochemical smog, and the tri-cellular climate model.

My Extended Essay links to these issues well, with Dr. Hurst being my supervisor. I explored the role Nuclear Fission has in our future of sustainable and clean electricity, and I truly feel educated on the efficiencies, highly safe, energy dense processes it brings. Furthermore in my essay in favor of nuclear power and renewables used in tandem, I've even found reputable academic papers and research studies (one from MIT), which perfectly aligns with my thesis.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to study environmental engineering and plan to work in the electricity and energy sector. I plan to help engineer solutions for a renewable and nuclear power grid to provide clean and sustainable electricity to millions. Eventually my goal is to help my fellow humans on Earth from afar as an astronaut. It's always been my dream to work in space and see an Earthrise, or experience the Overview Effect first-hand. Funnily enough, my love for space exploration is what made me so interested in environmental sciences. Hopefully I can apply those skills I have learned over time from GEMS and from my future colleges towards bettering our planet. Someday if possible I'd also like to work on education, because scientific literacy is a major problem in the United States, and because of a lack of it we have dangerous conspiracy theories that now prevail and are given an equal seat at the table in the publics eye to science. COVID19, anti-vax, flat earth and the moon landing "hoax". They promote anti-scientific views and are distorting the access to real information by marketing their misinformation and disinformation. I'd like to help educate more people on the astounding nature of science so our democracy doesn't implode from the stress of disinformation. Voters cannot make the right decisions when science and reason is put into question. When climate change is for example treated as "disputed information" when nearly every single scientist on the planet supports the hypotheses and data accumulated for a plethora of decades since the 1950s.

What clubs/sports/extracurricular activities did you participate in during your high school years (either at GEMS or outside of school) and how did these activities help you grow as a person?

My research into space exploration, exoplanetary science and physics have helped me to compliment my scientific outlook on life.

What teaching and learning experiences do you feel are unique to GEMS?

I think the informative and intelligent 'spin' on IB DP that my teachers have given me in the past two years, along with setting us up for success are unique.

How has your GEMS journey prepared you for college?

The IB program has prepared us for the work loads of college

Where do you imagine yourself 10 years from now?

Either I will have finished my PhD program two years prior or I will have been employed as an Environmental Health Engineer for years at this point.

What advice would you give to incoming ninth graders?

You have one shot. Make it count. No repeats. Have fun until Junior year, but then get yourself together. Strive to underpromise and overdeliver.


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