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Exploring our Fuel Future: Fatima Karim


When she is not learning to play her ukulele or blazing through her virtual courses at Stanford from her home in Guyana, chemical engineering student Fatima Karim is working as a Constellations intern with Hago Energetics, a company developing technologies to mitigate and reverse climate change using renewable energy.


At Hago, Fatima is looking at economic drivers toward hydrogen fuel usage and how to produce hydrogen fuel sustainably. There are a range of ways to produce hydrogen fuel and they are not all green. Recognizing that we can’t fully or immediately electrify all sectors (air travel, steel, etc), and that some infrastructure (EV charging, for example) is experiencing roll-out delays, Fatima is exploring how hydrogen fuel could be produced, used and scaled sustainably.


Fatima has delved into the current state of fossil fuel production and what it would take to change our energy paradigm. In high school, she worked on small scale projects about the impact of the recent oil discoveries on Guyana economically, environmentally and socially. While the circular economy and alternative fuel future concepts she is exploring this fall could benefit Guyana, she is still considering how these ideas would be applied to a nation that has such a heavy reliance on fossil fuel production.


When asked about her perspective on 2020, Fatima shares that “A lot of our leaders let us down so hard, environmentally they let us down, handling the pandemic they are still letting us down at the moment, dealing with racial issues they are letting us down. It is kind of disheartening - as a younger person you look up to the older people because you consider them the ones that have the experience and the knowledge, and then it is like, you taught me this, why aren’t you acting on it?”



A ferry ride on the Essequibo river in Guyana

Many of the virtual events this year that center science and data in decision-making have given her hope - “It has made me realize that we need more scientists in politics.” After college, she is still considering how to make her mark on the world, whether through industry, research or further study in grad school. '


Fatima is doing her part to bring other youth into the conversation on science in decision-making and implement what she is learning in her degree on the ground. In 2017, Fatima started working with an organization called Youth in Natural Resources, where students go around Guyana and learn about all of the natural resources they have and how to conserve them, but she graduated from the program and left for college years ago. However, her return home for virtual study during the pandemic has reactivated her membership in the organization and her role in leading others into the natural resources and clean energy field as an alumna. “When I am at Stanford, I am always like, okay, when I graduate then I will get back again and help Guyana, but I’m here right now and I’m studying at university so I can implement the things I’ve learned on the ground here, and I really like that.”


At a time where we are all too distant from one another, Fatima urges us to think of creative ways to create community among problem solvers: “The pandemic in general has made me realize how important finding a community of people to work with is, because if you have a group of people around you that are also trying to fix the problem, it feels fixable. Even just being at the Global Warming Mitigation Project and going to events and hearing people talking about things as passionately as I talk about them - I love it.”



Fatima at the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE) in Barbados

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