by BECCA BARR | photos by Alan Smith Photography

Pushing the Limits

student_bertran1High school senior Jordi Bertrán is a true renaissance man. Jordi, age 16, is currently a senior at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad. His interests and talents are varied. He is an athlete, an actor, and an engineer.

During his sophomore year, Jordi had the opportunity to study for a semester abroad in the Bahamas at the Island School, a transformative program for high school students that focuses on experiential learning and sustainable engineering, all the while honing critical thinking skills and community building. “Every day varied in its content, yet each was equally exhausting,” explained Jordi. Students were assigned to a research project – either engineering pyrolysis systems (systems that turn plastic waste into fuel) or studying the migration of bull sharks.

It was here that Jordi learned about the biochar/biofertilizer project. “Biological charcoal is highly porous, allowing for nutrients and micronutrients to cling onto it. Our charcoal was made with coconut husks that take several years to decompose,” Jordi said. This fascinated him, even after he returned home. “I knew I wanted to use biochar to mitigate the effects of the drought in Southern California. I began to use an invasive reed in the Torrey Pines area for my char and studied the water retention with different staple crops.” He hopes to continue work on this project after his college applications have been submitted.

“I have always found science exhilarating.”


Name: Jordi Bertrán (16)
School: Pacific Ridge School
Grade: 12
Parents: Yara and Jerónimo Bertrán
Sibling: Jeroni Bertrán (19)
Favorite Local Spots: 24th St. Beach in Del Mar, The Wall Climbing Gym, Convoy St., any farmers market

student_bertran3In addition to engineering, Jordi loves the arts. He does filmmaking, recently branching out into documentaries. He is also a professional actor and has performed at the Old Globe Theatre four times. While he loves performing Shakespeare, he also enjoys musicals.

When not doing engineering work or acting, Jordi can be found playing sports. He plays water polo in the fall and runs hurdles in the spring. Additionally, he is involved with the gardening and sustainability club at school, where they have built hydroponic and aquaponics systems, as well as rebooted the old garden.

The future is wide open for Jordi. “I have always found science exhilarating. Some part of me wants to go into environmental science or marine biology, as well as the development of sustainable practices. Another part of me wants to be an actor and make films,” he related. Regardless of what path he chooses, he will meet the challenge head on. “I am very adventurous. Anything that makes my heart pump faster and my adrenaline rush is perfect. I love pushing myself to the limit; it’s when my body is sore and seeped of energy that I feel alive.” This multi-talented risk taker has great things in his future!