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Vote Now: Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate Nominated for 2021 Three Minute Thesis Competition

By Maryland Today Staff

Got three minutes? That’s all a University of Maryland student needs to tell you about her fearless idea to help understand and fight climate change.

Patricia Razafindrambinina, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is one of 20 contestants in this year’s Universitas 21 Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT), which challenges research students to communicate the significance of their projects to a nonspecialist audience in a concise and compelling way. The public can vote for their favorite video presentation until Oct. 4, with the winner, announced a week later, earning the $1,000 People’s Choice Prize.

In Razafindrambinina’s video, “The Aerosol Parasol: A Tale of Climate Change and Tiny Particles,” she explains her investigation of aerosols, airborne particles that shield the Earth from the sun’s radiation by forming umbrella-like clouds. While that might seem like a good thing, she says, an excess of manmade aerosols in the atmosphere has been linked to droughts and contributes to uncertainty in climate prediction. Her research delves into how aerosols from different sources impact cloud formation and, therefore, climate.

“These cloud umbrellas are far from simple, but understanding them is absolutely critical, especially with the rise in extreme weather and climate impact surrounding us,” she said in the video. “My research uncovered an important clue to their role in climate change, and quantifying the effects of aerosols, clouds and controlling human activity that emits them might just be the key to solving the crisis of our lifetime.”

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