Michael Charles is an American Indian scientist from the Navajo Nation pursuing a PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The Ohio State University with research interest in bringing ecosystems into the design and decision-making of technical systems while exploring how to use academic research to impact social, political, and ethical issues.
Whether it’s through his indigenous background, sports, music, his studies, or his friends, Michael has embraced the power of community throughout his life. It's something that helped him transition from a graduating high school class of 18 to Cornell, and eventually to a PhD program at The Ohio State University.
Listen in as Michael chats with his friend and classmate Yasmin Alameddine '16 about balancing extra curriculars with a challenging major, how one of the first languages he heard on campus was Diné (Navajo), and his involvement in AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) and NAICCO (Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio), which led to his participation in the UN Climate Talks.
"The first reason I ever even started getting into this work was sitting at my desk in Columbus, Ohio, my first year of my PhD and watching things unfold at Standing Rock . . . there were a lot of people able to be there and long term camp out and show their support for that indigenous community . . . it was really at an international scale of people who were coming and staying at that camp . . . I felt very, not necessarily trapped, but I just couldn’t figure out what my role was as an indigenous person in sustainability, very concerned about climate change and the impacts on our peoples . . . I think I was still trying to figure out what could be my role and how can I make change in this issue."
Created and produced by Amanda Massa.
Music by Kia Albertson-Rogers '13, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artwork by Chris Kelly.
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