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Physics undergrad student takes climate change science to the streets

Chris Sasaki

For physics undergraduate student Sebastian Ibarra Mendez, monitoring levels of methane in the GTA is a natural extension of a project he began in high school in Colombia.

As a student in Cajicá, Ibarra Mendez developed a methane detector for homes — not unlike a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm — designed to alert users of harmful levels of the gas leaking from domestic stoves. He won a national competition with the idea, which he has dubbed the Air Keeper, and is working to perfect the design and take it to market.

Now entering his fourth year of a physics and statistics major with a minor in computer science, Ibarra Mendez has been measuring methane leaks of a different kind as a Climate Positive Energy (CPE) summer undergraduate researcher.

The research is part of the ongoing GTA Urban Emissions project headed by Debra Wunch, an associate professor in the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Department of Physics and School of the Environment.

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