Students Investigate Green Chemistry during Study Abroad in Scandinavia

Image of Students Investigate Green Chemistry during Study Abroad in Scandinavia

This past summer, 18 students from a variety of science majors joined Professors Deb and Todd Mlsna on a 3 week study abroad program visiting Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. This was part of the Department of Chemistry's new curriculum program focused on renewable energy, including geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power. With access to geysers, waterfalls, and steady winds, Scandinavia has emerged as a world leader in alternative energies, and this summer's program sent students to study the successful approaches used in northern Europe.

"In my opinion, it was kind of inspiring to see how well other countries aggressively implement green energy in their everyday lives.” Junior Chemistry major chemistry major Griffin St. Louis said. "[This course] made me want to change things and educate myself on the possibilities beyond what we learned in the trip.”

Drs. Deb and Todd Mlsna plan to offer the program again this coming summer. "We think it was a huge success," said Dr. Deb Mlsna. "Our students were engaged, and they really seemed to appreciate how the topics they learn in their chemistry classes can connect with applications in the real world." "I agree," said Dr. Todd Mlsna. "We had a wonderful group of students, and this trip built experiences that will help these students in their future careers."

Throughout the trip, students supplemented tours and sightseeing with coursework, including homework and exams. Sydnee Elmore, a senior chemistry major, remarked, "Being able to study abroad in countries that have shown successful transitions away from fossil fuels was incredible, and inspired me to look into ways we could implement some of these strategies in our own country and campus. Sustainable energy is the future, and places like Iceland and Norway show that transitioning to sustainable energy sources benefits the country as a whole in so many ways."

Chemistry StudentsStudents participating in the program received three credit-hours for the course, and many of the students are interested in pursuing a Chemistry minor. While students were responsible for their own airfare to Europe, the majority of expenses during the trip were covered as part of the program cost. "I never thought I would go abroad in college. I thought it would be too expensive and that none of the options would have relevance to my major. This trip was the perfect match for me and really showed me how strong and adventurous I can be," said junior Microbiology student Emily Eberhardt.

Students interested in participating in next year's study abroad program should contact Drs. Todd or Deb Mlsna. An information session is planned for early spring 2017, and details will be posted on the Chemistry Web Site.

Caption: (Top) Griffin St. Louis explore a waterfall during the Iceland portion of the trip. (Bottom) Students enjoy an afternoon at “Bláa lónið” or the “Blue Lagoon”.  Listed as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal mineral hot spring reputed to have healing powers.

Click here to view more highlights.