Resident Rachel Fiala visits Thailand

In May 2009, GK-12 Resident Rachel Fiala traveled to Thailand as a student enrolled in a Maymester graduate chemistry course offered through UCD. The class spent the first week at the World Renewable Energy Conference, which allowed for a better understanding of the progress other countries are making to become more sustainable. Many of the presenters were graduate students and professors from across the globe, and Rachel found it particularly interesting to specifically hear from students who are working in Thailand on research projects.

The second week entailed several expeditions in order for the students to better understand Thailand's cultural and economic differences. The students visited the Chitralada Palace of King Rama IX where several agricultural projects are underway, the emissions testing facility, and King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (Rachel pictured middle, top photo, at Tiger Temple & bottom picture is Grand Palace). During each expedition and experience, Rachel's research interest in biomass to fuel increased and has possibly sparked future research questions.

As a culmination to the trip, Rachel wrote a research paper discussing the use of low-emission coating on double-glazed windows and solar panel windows for high-rise buildings situated in Bangkok, Thailand. Rachel states that, "solar panel windows are relatively new, but the future use seems broadly applicable." In the future Rachel hopes to have the opportunity to travel to Thailand again, as she would love to teach chemistry there. Rachel says, "When I think about teaching and what makes a great teacher, I realize that life experience and a broad knowledge base is what allows some teachers to stand apart from the rest. Who wouldn't be 'wowed' by stories of Thai culture and scientific progress compared to the U.S.?!?"