News Detail
University of Detroit Mercy Chemistry Student Selected to Attend United Nations Climate Change Conference

October 20, 2017 — For most college students, participating in a United Nations conference seems like a dream, but for one University of Detroit Mercy student, that dream is coming true.

Chemistry major Justin Pothoof earned selection through a national search to report on climate change at the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, in November. The conference will focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The American Chemical Society's (ACS) Committee on Environmental Improvement is sponsoring eight university students from across the United States to attend the conference and report about it via blog.

"This is really big," said Pothoof, whose interest is in renewable solar energy. 

At the conference, he will have access to political leaders, scientists and policymakers from more than 190 countries to help him share stories and educate his peers around the world on the effects of climate change.

“I was stunned,” he said. “I was surprised and humbled when I received the email of my acceptance. I was in the lab, about to extract pesticides from spinach, when I saw the message. I took off my gloves and picked up my phone. I stumbled into Dr. Evans' office, shaking — almost crying — trying to tell her, but I couldn’t. I handed her my phone.”

Pothoof, who is in his senior year and also serves of president of the Chemistry Club, first learned about this opportunity from a friend of Chemistry Chair Mark Benvenuto, during the ACS conference in San Francisco earlier this year. In his time at Detroit Mercy, Pothoof has attended five ACS conferences nationwide and will attend his sixth later this month.

The application process required an essay and sample blog. “I went above and beyond the requirement,” Pothoof recalled. “I created a website and video. In the essay, I described how this opportunity was made for me.” 

He credits his Detroit Mercy education and experience for this opportunity. 

“What’s special about Detroit Mercy is the opportunities we present to our students," he explained. "You’re not going to get this elsewhere. I am able to pursue something that I really care about and I get to try to make a change in the world.”

“Essentially, I’m going to be a news reporter,” he said. “The whole idea about this is to spread awareness and education about climate change, especially to university students. A lot of people don’t receive this information or, due to the current political climate, it’s pushed away.” 

Pothoof’s academic interest is inorganic chemistry with a focus on renewable energy.

“That’s where we have to go [renewable energy]," he said. "We don’t have a choice. At our current rate of consumption, we’ll run out of oil in the next 40 years. If we don’t find something soon, we’ll all be dirt poor trying to pay for gasoline.” 

“Everything centers around a good education,” he continued. “We need to make sure all students, not just in our country, are educated on climate change so that they feel like they are in a position to make a change in the world.”

Pothoof will continue to blog following the conference until the national ACS meeting in New Orleans in March 2018. At the meeting, he will present a poster, possibly run a symposium or present an oral presentation to spread awareness of climate change. [Source: University of Detroit Mercy]





Recent News

January 15, 2018 — In honor of a great man, here are 31 inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. quotes.

January 12, 2018 — Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has selected Fr. William Verbryke, SJ, as its 12th president.

January 10, 2018 — Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, the Jesuit secondary school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has appointed Fr. Timothy A. Howe, SJ, to serve as the school’s next president.

January 8, 2018 — Jesuit Father Anthony J. Corcoran was installed as apostolic administrator of Kyrgyzstan on Dec. 17.

January 5, 2018 — Brendan Coffey, SJ, a Jesuit in formation, is featured in a news report on vocations in the Catholic Church.

January 3, 2018 — Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D., has been named as the 25th president of John Carroll University.

January 1, 2018 — In the early days of 2017, the newly elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, helped set the stage for a year that will be very much remembered for the Jesuits’ care for people at the margins.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 11/13/17

America 10/30/17

America 10/29/17



Loyola Retreat House
Situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, Loyola Retreat House is located 35 miles south of Washington, D.C., in southern Maryland.