College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

It’s not too late: Shanna Fellows raises climate change awareness through heat wave analysis

Shanna Fellows presenting her heat maps of Iowa on a large screen

Shanna Fellows, junior in civil engineering, wants people all around Iowa and the United States to know that it’s not too late to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Fellows is spreading that message through her research in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering’s Undergraduate Research Program. By analyzing data from each county in Iowa, and now the entire United States, she is providing information on what our climate could look like in a hundred years.

With the release of new climate data, Fellows is working with assistant professor Lu Liu and Ph.D. student Fatemeh Ganji on heat wave analysis – analyzing the data and projecting it into graphs comparing the future of the United States in a low vs. high emissions world. Fellows’ research shows what temperatures could be at the end of the 21st century based on which emissions path we go down.

“We want to show Iowans and people in the United States what our future could be,” Fellows said. “Some of the graphs have two scenarios – a high emissions scenario, and a low emission scenario. By the end of the century, there is a big difference between the two. We want people to know that if we put in more work now, we can stop some of this change.”

Fellows grew up in Southeast Iowa, on a farm surrounded by nature. Fellows wants to make sure the environmental conditions that she got to experience will stick around, she says.

Now, her work is actively advancing education on climate change. Little of the new climate change data has been analyzed locally; that is where Fellows comes in.

After college, Fellows hopes to continue to create a better environment. Fellows recently added a chemistry minor to her civil engineering degree with an environmental emphasis. With her array of education, she hopes to go into water and wastewater engineering after graduation.