Daniela Tapia Pitzzu Featured in Newsletter

“By locking hope into the actions we take and the decisions we make to consciously protect this planet, we cannot fall into despair. We are already moving in the right direction, no matter how slow.”

~Daniela Tapia Pitzzu

This issue features Daniela Tapia Pitzzu, a former research assistant at the Global CO2 Initiative, who recently graduated from University of Michigan with master’s degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Environment and Sustainability.

Daniela holds a BS in chemistry from the University of Nevada, Reno and is currently open to employment possibilities. 

During her free time, she reads books from a variety of different genres and plays with her fur ball, Treme.

How did you become interested in this field?

I have always been attracted to fields where something is broken up into its most elemental parts. In high school, I fell in love with chemistry because it did just that.

As I progressed through my undergraduate degree, more macroscopic problems interested me. What happened to the waste I generated in the lab? What was the end-of-life of my latest experiment? This is what drove my interest in the environment and sustainability field. Ultimately, I came across life cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool for answering these questions. 

How did you find out about GCI?

I found out about GCI through the GCISA (Global COInitiative Student Association) newsletter. I wanted to learn more about preparing life cycle assessments, so I asked Dr. Sick if I would be able to join the team in some capacity. Luckily, there was an opportunity, and I have served in this capacity since January of this year.

Could you describe what you worked on at GCI?

I provided support to the LCA team. Life cycle assessment is a great tool for understanding the environmental impact of a process or item. Think about a pack of gum.

If you read the packaging, you can see all the ingredients that go into making the gum. There might also be information about where the gum was made. When developing an LCA, you look into how all of those ingredients were sourced, how much energy it required to synthesize or harvest them, the waste that was produced, the water that was used, etc.

You also need to ask questions about packaging. From where was it sourced? How was it made? Did it need to be delivered to a packaging facility? We have now taken the gum and broken it down into its components. 

Then, when you are done chewing the gum, where does it go? What impact does it have on the environment? Again, what happens to the packaging? You throw it away, but its interactions with the environment don’t stop there.

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