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Regina Ayala Chavez

Graduate Student | Department of Education | North Carolina State University

2021 – 2022 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

I was born and raised in a small city called Pachuca in Mexico. My family always express interest in pro-environmental behaviors, such as recycle and reduce waste. My interest in climate change began during my master’s degree program. At the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), I studied Physics for my undergraduate degree and Engineering in Energy for my master’s degree at the same university. When I started to develop my thesis topic, I met Dr. Rodriguez, a professor of energy policy and energy advisor of the Mexican government, who taught me about climate change, energy-saving programs, and clean energy. This was the first time I was motivated to take action to solve environmental problems. My master’s thesis focused on analyzing Mexico’s oil and gas reserves and the Kyoto Protocol. For my thesis, I studied the production and consumption of oil and gas records between 1938 and 2015. My word had two parts; the first part was about how many oil and gas reserves we have in Mexico and analyze for how many years will continue burning these fuels at the same rate that today. My results were not encouraging at all, Mexico needs to find quickly another source of energy, or we will be in considerable problems in a few years. The second part of my thesis was to recommend how to decrease the burning of these fuels to reach Mexico’s international agreement against climate change (Kyoto Protocol). Again, the results were devastated. If Mexico wanted to accomplish its agreements, Mexico would need to drastically reduce the use of these fuels, which would significantly impact this country’s economy.

After I finished my master’s degree in 2017, I moved to the U.S. I needed to wait almost a year before starting my Ph.D. to be recognized as in-state. I was interested in a Ph.D. in Science Education because I experienced people’s happiest and excitement when they see science and understand it. I worked in the TV program in the science section doing experiments in Mexico. I volunteered in the Museum of Life and Science in Durham in the Lab exhibit. I worked for four months in the Marbles Kids Museum, improving a STEAM exhibition. These experiences make me realize the real career I want to pursue was in science education, especially in out-of-school learning of climate change.

Description of research:

For my dissertation research, I am interested in studying how household managers make decisions for their homes to mitigate climate change. When I moved to the U.S., I became in charge of the household. Since I did the shopping, cooking, and purchasing decisions, I realized the power I had to change my life to be more eco-friendly. My experience made me think about how my position as a household manager can empower and convince more people, especially women and mothers, to change and adapt to climate change. I am interested in targeting Spanish-speaking women because I considered that they are a forgotten group in society. I can relate to them because we speak the same first language and have a common lifestyle.

Contact Information:


Faculty Advisor:

Dr. K.C. Busch (Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics Education)

Meet Regina:

View a video developed by Regina describing her research as a Global Change Fellow: