Shrinking Swiss Glaciers Inspire Undergraduate Student’s Energy Research

August 28, 2017

Yann Pfitzer spent the heat of a Philadelphia summer in a lab, designing and testing ultrathin plates that could one day be part of systems that convert extreme heat to electricity.

For Pfitzer, a junior in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, the interest in energy research began in a much cooler environment. He’s from Switzerland, where alpine skiing has a rich history and remains a major tourist draw. Even during the summer, when the snow is scarce, ski racers from all over the world train on the country’s famed glaciers.

“Every year, we’d have to walk another 30 feet,” he says. For Pfitzer, this was a clear sign of a changing climate. “All glaciers are shrinking in Switzerland,” he says. “That made climate change very real to me.”

In Pfitzer’s case, it motivated him to investigate the effects of the current energy system as well as alternate ways to power our civilization.

Click here to read the full story.