Spotlight on the People Behind The ClimateMusic Project


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click on photo for bio

Alison Marklein is a quantitative biogeochemist who focuses on the effects of soil chemistry, climate change, agricultural management on soil carbon storage and plant growth. Her past research has focused on how interactions between nitrogen and phosphorus affect terrestrial carbon sequestration and the dynamics of plants and microbes. In addition to her "day job", Alison is an accomplished musician! 

1. What's your role at The ClimateMusic Project?

I'm one of the science advisors of The ClimateMusic Project. I help compile the data that are used for the pieces, and work with the composers and musicians to help them understand the data. I also love sharing how scientists use all sorts of clues (data) to show how we figure out the way the world works.

2. Why are you involved? 

I really believe that my science is important and relevant to the world, but I don’t immediately connect science with policy makers or the general public in my day-to-day. Being a science advisor to The ClimateMusic Project helps my science have greater impact on the world and connects me with a broader community. 

On a more personal level, I had a college professor who would say "Whatever your passion is, you can use it to help the planet,” and the ClimateMusic project really embodies that philosophy for me. One of my passions is definitely science, and I have that one covered with my day job, but I'm also a musician and love that I’m pursing that passion more.

3. What do you think this collaboration between scientists and artists can achieve?

There is so much diversity in what moves people, and how people learn, so it’s really important to use all different mediums to reach a lot of people. By collaborating with artists, scientists like me can really increase the impact of our research beyond the people who get really excited about numbers and charts.

4. What's your favorite kind of music, and with whom would you like to see The ClimateMusic Project collaborate? 

My favorite genre of music is post-punk.  Do you think we can get Patti Smith??

5. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get involved in the fight against climate change? 

Climate change is a huge, complicated, and daunting issue to tackle. This kind of challenge needs all different kinds of people. If you are looking to work towards climate solutions, I recommend figuring out what aspect of climate change feels exciting to you, gives you hope, and takes advantage of your own strengths and interests. You can then team up with people who are motivated by other aspects of the problem - and trust them to fill in the parts that seem overwhelming to you. For example, I love the science of climate change, from the molecular level to the whole earth, but the more social aspects of climate change sometimes overwhelm me. That's why The ClimateMusic Project is such a good fit for me - we make the science meaningful to a broader group of people, motivate action, and direct the audience to our action partners.