Chase Metzger portrait

Fastest Path to Zero Initiative mentee wins local Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

Chase Metzger’s project focused on advanced nuclear energy.

The Fastest Path to Zero Initiative is delighted to announce the outstanding achievement of Chase Metzger, a high school student mentored by our director Todd Allen, and business manager Barbara Peitsch. Chase recently secured first place in his region at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) with his research focused on advanced nuclear energy.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Chase as he learned about both nuclear energy and community acceptance,” said Allen. “He created a novel approach that led to a really interesting, and prize-winning project.”

“I enjoyed meeting with Chase to suggest resources, and review his progress and final outcomes,” said Peitsch. “I’m glad that his hard work paid off, and look forward to seeing where his future research in clean energy takes him.”

In the following Q&A, Chase shares his inspiration for choosing nuclear energy as his research focus, highlights the invaluable guidance provided by his mentors, and provides insights into the significant impact of his study on public perceptions of advanced nuclear energy. 

FP: What inspired you to choose nuclear energy as the focus of your research for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium?

CM: Initially I was just researching various clean energy topics and seeing what possible mentors were researching, then I found Dr. Allen and one of his articles about advanced nuclear energy and I was hooked. I knew nothing about all of its benefits and was previously taught that nuclear energy was bad, so I knew that there was a lot of potential, a lot to learn, and a great possible research project to conduct. 

FP: How did Todd Allen and Barbara Peitsch from the Fastest Path Initiative contribute to your study, and what role did their mentorship play in your research?

CM: Dr. Allen and Mrs. Peitsch are the reason I was able to have a project. They introduced me to the topic of advanced nuclear energy and gave me direction with my topic. Their guidance helped me through every step of the research process from my background research to preparing to present my project. They helped me learn everything I had to about advanced nuclear energy, come up with my topic idea, how to test my question, what questions to ask for my survey, how to analyze my data, and helped me look over my paper and slideshow. Even though I made the actual project I could have never done it without them.

FP: Winning first place in your local competition is a significant achievement. How did you feel when you received this recognition, and how has it impacted your academic journey?

CM: I was surprised because my friends in my class knew me as a second year student who was in their third year of science research due to the fact my first year project fell through. This past year I worked extra hard to make sure that didn’t happen again and it paid off. Also, all the other projects that I saw at JSHS were amazing and it felt great to compete with other people who put so much time and effort into their projects. Winning gave me a boost of confidence in my research and will definitely help me gain access to more research opportunities in the future. 

FP: Your study aimed to understand how people from different demographic backgrounds view nuclear energy. Can you share some key findings or insights from your research in this regard?

CM: Overall there was a statistically significant difference between many different demographics and their views on advanced nuclear energy. Some of the most significant differences was between men and women and between people younger and older than 50. Overall we found that the groups that would help increase the total support for advanced nuclear energy the most by informing them about its benefits are people over 50, women, democrats, and non caucasian people. These groups of people all had lower initial favor abilities and higher increases in favor abilities after watching the video or reading the passage. It’s important to note that even though there was variation when comparing initial favorability for age and the change in favorability for race that there was a difference between the groups compared, but not a statistically significant difference. This information can be used to know how to best increase the support for advanced nuclear energy by knowing who we need to tell to increase to support it.

FP: Can you share your aspirations for further education? Are there specific academic or research areas you’re interested in pursuing?

CM: When I go to college I would like to major in mechanical engineering, but I would like to continue my research on clean energy sources, most likely advanced nuclear because of all of its benefits. I would also like to focus on clean transportation because that has always been an interest of mine and how it can connect with advanced nuclear energy. 

FP: How has your experience with the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium influenced your future academic and career goals?

CM: JSHS has made me want to continue to research more in the future and actually get into the field. JSHS has helped me get closer to my career goals by showing me how research works. Research connects deeply with engineering and I want to understand all steps of the process. As for what my goals are, you will find out when I reach them, just know they will be great.  

FP: Are there particular universities or institutions you are considering for your higher education, and what factors are important to you in making that decision?

CM: There are many schools with great engineering programs and of course, it would be an incredible honor to attend a top institution like the University of Michigan. The two most important factors I looked at were the community at the schools and the education in engineering I will get. Part of the community is there being many other majors so I can connect with people who are in different fields from me. This would also allow me to learn about other fields from my peers and maybe take a minor or second major to learn even more. One other topic I specifically want to learn about is business because I know it can connect with engineering(just like science research) and it definitely connects with advanced nuclear energy because recently many advanced nuclear reactors haven’t been built because of economic issues. 

The Fastest Path to Zero Initiative congratulates Chase on his remarkable success and is proud to have played a part in nurturing his passion for advanced nuclear energy research. As he embarks on his future academic and professional journey, we look forward to witnessing the positive impact Chase will undoubtedly make in the field of clean energy.

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Sara Norman

Marketing & Communications Manager