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When Jessica Reid (’22, ’23) wanted to highlight renewable energy for her digital storytelling course, she looked to Ideliya Khismatova (’23). Reid, who is in the Environment and Science Communication dual-degree program, met Khismatova as an undergraduate student. The two served on the Environmental Affairs Committee of Student Government, which works on environmental projects and policies impacting campus.

Reid’s digital storytelling instructors asked the class to tell a story about a larger societal issue using either video, graphics, or a website.

“I chose to create a video because it gave me the opportunity to let the subject tell her story – and because the topic of solar has visual interest,” says Reid.

Curtis Media Center Solar: Challenges and Triumphs

Khismatova (left) and Reid (center) stand outside the Genome Sciences Building, after filming during a Carolina Sustainability Council walking tour of campus.

Khismatova’s mother grew up in the former USSR, and Khismatova herself is from Siberia, though she’s spent most of her life in the Triangle. Still, she grew up with the idea that you shouldn’t take more resources than you need. When she arrived on Carolina’s campus, sustainability fit seamlessly into this way of thinking.

As a senior, Khismatova serves as the co-chair of the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee (RESPC). RESPC is the student organization that financed the Curtis Media Center Solar Project. The project consists of 60 panels on the building’s roof.

Reid’s video highlights Khismatova’s first steps into Curtis Media Center after the building opened to students in fall 2022. Throughout the video, Khismatova talks about the challenges faced during the solar panel installation. She also talks about how this renewable energy source is helping to power the grid.

“Ideliya is knowledgeable about renewable energy and climate change from her experience in organizations like Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee and her environmental science major,” says Reid. “I was glad she tied her personal values into the story by sharing how she was raised with sustainability in mind and how it made her interested in renewable energy at UNC.”

Science Communication and Climate Change

While Khismatova is in the limelight here, Reid has accomplished great things while at Carolina. In 2020, she published Planet Now, which curates the expertise of successful environmental communicators.

“Through my last few classes in the spring and master’s thesis in the summer, I hope to continue to learn about effective ways to communicate on environmental issues and solutions,” says Reid. “My classes are helping me build upon the knowledge I gained writing my book, as I study how communications strategy can help us solve climate change.”

Next semester, Reid plans to analyze social marketing and branding in relation to rooftop solar and other sustainable products.

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