Introducing the new PEWS Sustainability Interns

PEWS, with the support of UC Research2030, is excited to introduce the three new PEWS Sustainability Interns: Zeke King Phillips, Kat Timm, and Jessica Roncker, all three graduate students at UC.

Zeke King Phillips

Zeke King Phillips is a 3rd year graduate student and PhD candidate in UC’s Geology Department. Prior to his arrival at the University of Cincinnati, he received a B.A. in Geosciences and Chinese from Williams College with a minor in Africana Studies. After graduation, he spent the year studying Mandarin Chinese in Taipei, ROC. His research is focused on untangling the potential biological impacts of climate change. In his current work, he studies the impacts of rising temperatures on snail diet to understand how these animals might fare in the future.

Outside of his research, he interested in making scientific research accessible to the public through outreach. He believes that increasing scientific literacy is of the utmost importance to increase public trust in the scientific community. Currently, he is involved in organizing public geoscience events as part of the Geology Department’s outreach efforts and for an upcoming regional meeting for the Geological Society of America. As a PEWS Sustainability Intern, he will work with PEWS Faculty Affiliate Lucas Dunlap to produce short videos profiling sustainability research at UC and the sustainability initiative page of the PEWS website.

Kat Timm

Kat Timm grew up in a non-academic family in beautiful interior Alaska. After several years of wandering and exploring, her love of art and human culture led her to earn BAs in anthropology and studio art at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is now a Master’s student in UC’s Anthropology Department. Kat has often struggled to share what she is learning with her loved ones, who view academic concepts as too specialized and distant to be relevant to their lived experience. She sees echoes of this disconnect on a larger scale in the supercharged political climate that leads many Americans to distrust scientists and other experts. She believes that we can’t afford to remain divided. Humans face unprecedented environmental, political, and socioeconomic precarity. It is critical that as many people as possible are able—and willing— to engage in informed conversations about humanity’s role in shaping a safe, healthy, and equitable future for us all.  

This assertion fuels Kat’s professional interests, which lie at the intersection of people, meaning, and design. Working in graphic design for UNC’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, she saw for the first time the power of public engagement to build bridges of meaning between cutting-edge researchers and their communities outside of the academy. Her current research interests involve understanding what happens at the moment people are introduced to a new idea and how they decide whether something is relevant to them. As a PEWS Sustainability Intern, Kat is organizing an interdisciplinary Sustainability Research & Discussion Group for UC graduate students and helping to organize PEWS public events about sustainability. Her goal in working with PEWS is to build skills that help her facilitate public opportunities for curiosity, confidence, and meaningful engagement with critical issues in science and beyond.

Jessica Roncker

Jessica Roncker is a graduate student in the UC Master’s program in Community Psychology and a member of Dr. Carlie Trott’s Collaborative Sustainability Lab. Her current research, funded by UC’s Community Change Collaborative grant, focuses on climate justice organizing and climate adaptation planning at the neighborhood level. Other research interests include the psychology of communication, moral foundations theory, social cohesion, and the social psychology of political difference.

After growing up in Cincinnati, Jessica lived in many other parts of the country and worked in book publishing, travel guiding, and music touring. She is excited to return to academia to continue learning about people and places in new ways, and to be part of the PEWS vision of fostering an engagement with science on- and off-campus that is democratic and diverse. As a PEWS Sustainability Intern, Jessica will be working with PEWS Faculty Affiliates Carlie Trott (Psychology) and Andrew Bernier (School of Education) to support collaborative grant proposals targeting sustainability issues that each of Trott and Bernier are currently developing and to support their public-facing events about sustainability.