Williams Senior Cole Mason is one of 32 recipients to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship for 2024.
An environmental studies and political science major from Berthoud, Colo., Mason says his two courses of study are “constant and inseparable conversation with each other,” adding that they “have laid the foundation for me to explore how we can create meaningful policy around fossil fuel extraction that uplifts communities directly impacted by those industries while meeting the urgency of the climate crisis.”
While at Williams, Mason worked as a researcher at Northeastern University’s Wylie Lab, where he collaborated on projects investigating the social and environmental implications of oil and gas from extraction to use. His primary focus was researching chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing protected as trade secrets.
Results from his collaborative research are expected to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Environmental Management, though Mason notes the publications that come out of the lab are just one component of the work. “Others include projects with local organizations or new, digital tools that increase transparency around environmental justice issues,” he says.
Mason is also captain of the Williams Men’s Swimming and Diving Team, the third member of the team to win the Rhodes.
Mason plans to pursue a Master of Science in Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance followed by a Master of Public Policy at the University of Oxford. He says he hopes to “work on bridging the divides between academics and policymakers” on this and other environmental issues, so that “new research can drive important change.”
For now, he continues to research the social and political dimensions of fossil fuel extraction. “What I love about the work is that applications for communities are top of mind,” he says.
Published November 13, 2023