University of Southern California

Student Fuses Science & Business to Win Fulbright
Cara Magnabosco '11 will focus on climate change for year in the Arctic
April 27, 2011 • by News at Marshall

Cara Magnabosco '11 was elated to learn she won a coveted Fulbright Award so she could return to the Arctic Circle to further her studies and — ever the practical scientist — so she could keep all the cold weather gear she stocked up on a few weeks before getting the news.

"I was really excited. I thought I hope I get it because if not I'm going to have all this winter gear that I'll have to return," Magnabosco said with a laugh. After all, there's not much use for wool socks and waterproof gloves in Southern California, where the USC senior is completing her biochemistry major and an entrepreneurship minor through the Marshall School of Business.

Magnabosco, a Phi Kappa Alpha All-University Honors Society member, will return to Norway to research leading-edge carbon capture and storage technology at the Longyearbyen CO2 Lab at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). The environmentally conscious 22-year-old had previously done fieldwork for six weeks on the Svalbard Islands last summer after being awarded a National Science Foundation Grant. She studied water samples from two lakes to explore the link between nutrient limitations and climate change.

"I was in a more remote site when I did my fieldwork. I was working near a glacier and it was about a three-hour boat ride from the place where I'll be at," said Magnabosco. "It was a great experience to be in such a different part of the world."

Aside from looking forward to getting "that full polar experience" during her year in Svalbard, which will include 24-hour periods of dark during the winter, Magnabosco is eager to see how academia and industry are working hand-in-hand to develop new technologies to reduce CO2 and combat the impact of climate change.

"Norway is on the forefront of environmental technologies and implementing them into industry. It's the first country that has a full-scale operation to store CO2. You can see the whole business model of how CO2 capture and storage would work if it was applied to industry, and I wanted to get a good grasp of understanding all aspects of this up-and-coming new technology," she said. "For industries that are creating large CO2 holdings out into the environment, carbon capture is an option where the CO2 can go in the meantime before they can economically afford to switch their means of production."

Magnabosco credits her study at Marshall, which she began her junior year, with giving her the self-assurance to apply her scientific knowledge in a business setting.

"It definitely gave me the confidence that I could create something on my own, either to start my own company or whatever it may be. And it really helped me as a scientist to analyze things more critically and think about how I could apply my knowledge of chemistry, biology and geobiology to improve our environment or make a profitable business model or help corporations in reducing CO2 emissions," she said.

Patrick Henry, assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC Marshall, was pivotal in helping her refine her focus for the Fulbright and beyond. "I had him for two years and he encouraged me to think about these things and how I could use my specialty and expertise and apply that to business," she says.

After her fellowship year, the USC Trustee Scholar, who is also in consideration for a Discovery Scholars Award, is considering graduate study in bioengineering or mechanical engineering before putting her entrepreneurial studies to good use.

"I want to become a confident enough scientist that I could start my own company or pair up with another like-minded businessperson and begin an environmental, lead-based company."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.