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Christian Lewis, '14, wins Fulbright to study atmospheric gases that impact global climate

May 9, 2014 | By Nick Alexopulos

Christian Lewis Fulbright Loyola University Maryland
Fulbright winner Christian Lewis, '14, and friend Katherine Marshall, '14.

Christian Lewis, ’14, has been awarded a Fulbright research grant to study how the ocean-produced gases dimethyl sulfide and isoprene affect atmospheric chemistry. He is Loyola University Maryland’s sixth student Fulbright scholar since 2009.

Lewis, a chemistry major and German minor from Iselin, N.J., will travel to Kiel, Germany, to conduct his research at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research from September 2014 to July 2015. There he will work alongside Christa A. Marandino, Ph.D., a chemical oceanographer who studies trace gas flux from the ocean to the atmosphere to quantify the rate at which various gases are produced and degraded into ocean waters, data critical to accurate global ocean modeling and climate models. Lewis will focus specifically on dimethyl sulfide and isoprene, two gases that are produced in the water by phytoplankton, and he will collect his samples from a fjord in the Baltic Sea.

“My research will represent a small piece of data that fits into a much greater pool of data that gets made into climate models,” said Lewis. “This is a tremendous opportunity and a starting point to my future in the sciences, and it’ll be an excellent research experience that sets me on track for a future where I can play an integral role in some science that will impact the world in a good way.”

Lewis grew up near the beach and fell in love with the ocean at a young age. He developed an interest in chemistry in high school, which turned into his major at Loyola. But he didn’t connect the dots on a career path until his Hauber Fellowship with Elizabeth Dahl, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, and subsequent work with Dahl that introduced him to environmental and marine chemistry.

“Working with Dr. Dahl, plus my love of the ocean, really got me interested in oceanography,” said Lewis. “Dr. Dahl has been an incredible mentor over the last two years. She’s taught me so much about the change in climate, the earth’s system, how everything is tied together. She’s been inspirational. I really look up to her as a scientist and as an environmentalist.”

Dahl, along with Birgit Albrecht, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, and Sara Scalzo, associate director for student engagement, were key supporters of Lewis’s Fulbright application. He learned about the Fulbright opportunity through Loyola's national fellowships office and its director, Arthur M. Sutherland, Ph.D., associate professor of theology, who guided him through the application process.

At Loyola, Lewis was involved in the chemistry club, club swim team, and environmental action club. He also worked in the language learning center and was on the Evergreen orientation staff.

In fall 2015 he will begin pursuit of a Ph.D. in Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine, which he deferred after he accepted his Fulbright award. His ultimate goal is both scholarship and teaching.

“I want to be able to do what I love – work in chemistry around the oceans – and do something that’s meaningful, and to be able to teach science the way it was taught to me at Loyola, making it fun and interesting,” Lewis said.

Lewis follows Emma Cogan and Anna Nguyen, ’12, who were the last Loyola students to be awarded Fulbrights, both in 2012. Cogan won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in primary and secondary schools in Malaysia, and Nguyen won a Fulbright grant to research cancer stem cells in malignant bone and soft tissue tumors at a laboratory in Switzerland. In 2011, 2009, and 2008, respectively, Fulbrights took Mazen Shomali, ’11, to teach English in Macau (China), Frances Quattrone, ’09, to do research in Turkey, and Tania Ziegler, ’09, to conduct research in China.

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