SOAR Student Profiles

Lula Baldriche

Lula Baldriche

  • SOAR Position: Member
  • Major: Applied Physics, Minors: Art and Enviromental Science
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Ying Gao and Dr. Sean Choi (with SUNY Binghamton REU Program)

Current Focus: I am currently wrapping up a 9-month research project under the mentorship of Dr. Gao, where I used geospatial analysis to map available land area in Nashville suitable for establishing new community

Project Description

As one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, Nashville has many food security and ecological issues to address. Community gardens can provide a multi-faceted solution to various urban challenges, as they can provide food resources in neighborhoods that experience high rates of food security, require low space constraints, and are generally low-cost to implement. Communal gardens have also been shown to increase urban residents' mental health, vegetable consumption, social adhesion, access to green spaces, and support urban biodiversity. I wanted to develop a map using specific land-use and biogeographical criteria that could show community officials, stakeholders, and urban planners that Nashville has an abundance of under-used land that could be efficiently leveraged to increase its network of small-scale, community-based agriculture and ensure a resilient city that can robustly sustain rapid growth and development in the years to come.

Why does this topic interest you?

The topics of community gardens, renewable energy, and sustainable urban planning interest me because of the critical environmental challenges that society is currently facing amidst economic stress and climate change. I hope to partake in research that contributes to an equitable and carbon-neutral future.

What are your professional aspirations?

I hope to eventually work in clean energy research and development. I would like to earn my PhD in Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, or an adjacent field to continue to research renewable energy and explore solutions to critical environmental problems.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

The advice I have for future researchers is to enjoy every step of the process rather than concentrating solely on the end goal. The difficult moments where the path to the results you want seems unclear are grand opportunities for learning, growth, and resilience.

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