Summer Internship Summer Spotlight: Sam Koss

A Master’s student in Agricultural & Resource Economics
June 24, 2020

Sam Koss’s internship work this summer is an extension of their spring research on air and noise pollution from oil and gas wells and how those factors affect student performance in nearby schools such as those in Weld County, where 90% of schools are within 2 kilometers of a well.

Sam’s research utilizes a data set that estimates particulate matter levels for every square kilometer in the US every day and compares that data with well activity and student test scores from 2007–2018. The intention, Sam said, is to determine how much of the effect of new well activity on student test scores (if there is one) can be attributed to air pollution, as opposed to noise or even local funding. Sam eventually plans to expand this research to other areas of Colorado as well as other states where they can repeat this analysis.

“Receiving the CSU Energy Institute internship award allowed me to dedicate my summer to this research. With the additional resources I can expand the study area and parse out the mechanisms of the treatment effect. For instance, I can examine the mechanisms of student mobility, student composition, student-teacher ratios, and school finances in the effect on test scores of wells near schools,” Sam said.

“These are questions that make the research compelling to me and I am grateful to be able to pursue them.”

Sam also plans to write a policy brief based on this research at the end of the summer to contribute to the ongoing policy debate on well setback distances. This research will be part of Sam’s thesis, and they plan to apply for PhD programs in the fall.

“When I found out I would be receiving the award, I was staying at home as part of the COVID-19 social distancing — trying to finish the semester. I was thrilled about the opportunity, and I welcomed a reassuring certainty about the future when I had few. It gave me peace of mind about my summer plans, which helped me to succeed in my research and academics in the spring semester,” Sam said.

“I am also excited to contribute to this fascinating and impactful research, and to prepare myself so well to write my thesis this upcoming year.”