Justin is just one of hundreds of absolutely inspiring and inspired scholarhsip applicants this year. Learn how mushrooms changed his path…then please consider donating to our scholarship fund to support more emerging leaders in the future.
My first contact with a Bioneer came in the form of a mushroom. To most, mushrooms are merely condiments for salads. However, when I read Discover magazine’s article, “How Mushrooms Can Save the World,” mushrooms transformed from squishy edible to world hero. Reading the article, I was mesmerized by mycologist Bioneer Paul Stamets’ wisdom on how fungi can clean oil spills, filter wastewater, produce biofuels, and even be used to terraform. I became hungry for more— in no time, I read all I could on fungi, adopted a heavier fungi diet, and even dragged friends to a “mushroom” walk in which we hunted for fungi at the Santiago Park Nature Reserve in Orange County under guidance of a local expert.
This year’s National Bioneers Summit will feature Paul Stamets in three seminars. It will also feature a plethora of others that all add value to my environmental passion and sustainable lifestyle choices. Growing up in the outdoors as a boy scout in the South Coast Air Basin, a region of perpetual ozone and PM2.5 non-‐attainment, I made it my life goal that I would help curb anthropogenic climate change. As a university student studying environmental engineering, I researched carbon capture sequestration to better understand geological storage of CO2. Thereafter, I pursued my masters in hydrogen fuel cell technology. While a graduate researcher, I became aware that I could best supplement my life goal by inspiring youth. To this end, I volunteered my time educating K-‐12 students in conservation practices and even went back to my high school to encourage students to consider majors in the environment and energy (an activity which I still continue).
Today, I am blessed to be part of the clean energy movement at US Hybrid Corporation in Torrance, CA, where utilizing my engineering capacity, I help develop project opportunities for zero emission vehicles, with an emphasis on fuel cell vehicles. The entire nation follows California’s lead in its aggressive renewable and zero emission vehicle goals, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will help achieve them. In this sense, as a first generation zero emission vehicle developer, my work will hopefully set the stage for the greater clean transportation revolution.
I have come a long way from my first encounter with Stamet’s mushrooms. But in the same spirit, we are all part of the same ecosystem and share the same need for sustainable living. I am a Bioneers Activist and proud of it.