“Both professors specialize in geochemistry, so that’s basically what I will also be doing while analyzing oil samples from the spill down south,” Palomo said.
“We will be using different column chromatography separation methods, including two dimensional gas chromatography (2DGC), Fourier-transform mass spectrometers(FTMS), just to name a few, to look at and study the characteristics and fate of hydrocarbons that are derived from oil in the BP oil spill. I really love that I get to work on this project since I go to school in Louisiana and the oil spill damage is so close. This allows me to bring back my data and research I do at Columbia to NSU and to continue working on it and help the with spill as best I as I can.”
As a high school student living in Los Angeles, Palomo was strongly affected by the news of BP oil spill in 2010.
“I have a big soft spot for the environment and when I heard about the BP oil spill my junior year in high school, I looked up volunteering and any ways that I could help, even though I was in Los Angeles,” she said. “I might not be directly in the field helping the wildlife that was affected from the spill, but I’ll be on the other side of the spectrum, in the lab, hopefully working on ways to help understand the oil spill further.”
Palomo, who will receive a $5,000 stipend, will live in a Columbia University dormitory through the summer beginning at the end of May.
She plans to attend medical school after completing her undergraduate degree in biology but said her interest in environmental issues may influence her career path.
“I’ve always had this interest and passion for environmental issues and now that I’ll have the opportunity to explore a possibly different field that could correlate to health, such as environmental health issues, that may direct my future plans into pursuing a M.D.-Ph.D. program in public health concentrating on environmental health issues,” she said.
Though only in her second year of college, Palomo is classified as a junior, one year ahead in her studies and is a member of the rowing team. She does research with Dr. Carol Chin, assistant professor in Northwestern State’s Department of Biological and Physical Sciences, analyzing water samples from Sibley Lake and participating in volunteer projects.
“I’ve been impressed with Christina’s maturity and self confidence,” Chin said. “She is enthusiastic about her work and studies, and she has the determination to be an excellent researcher. This internship at LDEO will be a wonderful next step in her development as a scientist and will provide her with an opportunity to explore options for graduate studies.”