In 2015, UConn sent 12 students (selected from 77 student applicants), four faculty members, and two OEP Sustainability Staff members to COP21 in Paris. This trip was just the first of what is hopefully many future UConn@COP trips. The COP21 Conference itself made history when 195 UN countries signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, the first ever legally-binding agreement to focus on combating climate change.
Anna is from Bremen, Germany and moved to the United States in August 2013 to pursue her undergraduate degree at UConn. At the time of COP21, she was a junior majoring in Political Science with a double minor in Economic and Human Rights. Anna studied abroad in Chile for a semester in the spring of 2015 and speaks German, English and Spanish. Her project for COP21 was an instagram account called frogsinapot, where she shared social-political art and marketing projects that used a creative medium to focus around anthropogenic climate change. Anna’s particular interests lie in Refugee rights, whether political, economic or climate-related. She is also a member of UConn’s two-time NCAA champion field hockey team.
At the time of COP21, Haley was a sophomore undergraduate student studying Environmental Health (with a concentration in the Environmental Science Major), aspiring to improve human-environment relations to develop sustainable behaviors in individuals. Haley was in the process of developing the Student Environmental Engagement Division (SEED), which is a student organization that brings environmental groups across UConn’s campus together to create an online eco-magazine and programs for sustainability training for students.
Danielle Chaloux was a junior in the Honors Program, studying French and Resource Economics at the Unversity of Connecticut at the time of COP21. While at COP 21, she produced a podcast series, including episodes on the history and importance of the Conference of Parties, the wide variety of events at the summit, and the ultimate outcome and agreements of the conference. As comptroller at WHUS Radio, UConn’s student-run station, she worked with students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the community to ensure high quality programming and bring original content to listeners.
Brianna Church was an environmental engineering student in her last year at UConn. An officer of the EcoHusky student group and an intern at the University’s Office of Environmental Policy, Brianna is passionate about educating the local community about environmental sustainability. After traveling to Paris to attend events related to the COP21 climate summit, Brianna hopes to engage the wider UConn community about the experiences she and the other students have had by compiling, editing, and displaying photographs in an art exhibit at the Student Union during the spring semester. She also wrote a blog post to accompany some of her photography and share them through social media.
At the time of COP21, Jessica was a junior studying Environmental Science and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UConn. Her project was a photographic comparison of sustainability initiatives in Paris and at UConn, focusing how we can take the global lessons of COP21 and apply them at a local level. While at UConn, Jessica was a member (and later an officer) of EcoHusky and a sustainability intern at the Office of Environmental Policy. She also received an IDEA Grant to research the impact of red tide algae on the feeding mechanisms of zooplankton. Jessica also studied ecology in South Africa and participated in an environmental alternative spring break to a national recreation center on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky.
Kerrin was a senior studying Environmental Studies with a minor in Geography at the time of COP21. Sustainability is her passion – she was the Co-President of EcoHusky, an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, and a member of the Undergraduate Student Government’s Environmental Subcommittee. Kerrin’s love for the environment extends beyond the University realm. Hiking, rock climbing, caving, and outdoor adventuring are among her favorite activities. Moving forward, she is hoping to enter the field of environmental policy to push for a more sustainable world through intelligent land development and use of our water resources.
Cristina Macklem was a 7th semester University Scholar who graduated in the spring of 2015 with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Spanish degrees, and started pursuing a Master’s degree in Natural Resources and the Environment at UConn in the fall. As an undergraduate, Cristina has researched and studied how climate change and other human impacts affect wildlife. Her COP21 project included an informative video on simple lifestyle changes that UConn students can make to reduce their environmental impact and an annual fundraiser geared towards developing renewable solar energy on campus in the future. She hopes that UConn can become a leader in renewable energy development as it continues to grow and expand and that campus can work towards reducing its dependence on natural gas over time.
At the time of COP21, Alexandra Mayer was a senior studying International Relations and Human Rights. She focused on the intersection between environmental degradation and human rights violations. She lived on the Spring Valley Student Farm, writes poetry for Inkling Online Magazine, and volunteered for Grow Windham. For her project she linked Vulture Town Arts, Grow Windham, and UCONN through discussions, documentary showings, and pop-up art exhibits.
Rachael was a junior studying Natural Resources and the Environment with a concentration in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation at the time of COP21. She is the treasurer of UConn’s chapter of the Wildlife Society and Vice President of UConn Whitewater. Rachael loves the outdoors and everything that lives there! Particularly, she is interested in minimizing negative anthropogenic impacts on the Earth’s ecosystems and preserving biodiversity, which is why she wanted to attend COP21. Going forward, Rachael would like to see UConn take big steps in lessening its carbon footprint and UConn students becoming more aware of their personal environmental impact. Her project following the climate summit involved helping UConn campuses adopt more sustainable landscaping practices using native, carbon-sequestering vegetation instead of farmed turf grass. Rachael thinks it is important for UConn to show the community direct ways in which we can actively lessen our impact on the climate.
At the time of COP21, Ron was a senior studying at the University of Connecticut. He was pursuing a double major in marine sciences and maritime studies with minors in marine biology and geography. Over the past year, Ron had spent time in Germany researching at the Leibniz Institute for Tropical Marine Ecology as a German Academic Exchange Service RISE Scholar, studied at the University of Essex, Colchester, England as a Gilman Scholar and studied at the University of Nordland as a High North Fellow. His research interests include fisheries ecology and management, the intersection of science and policy, blue carbon, and the dynamics of human-ocean interaction. Ron hopes to return to Europe to complete a relevant master’s degree and ultimately work in areas related to marine policy/management or extension focusing particularly on issues with international focus.
Rob was a senior Ecology & Evolutionary Biology major at the time of COP and is primarily interested in curbing the massive loss of biodiversity due to climate change. He had spent the past two summers before COP21 studying bird communities in the tropics, and planned to return there following graduation to continue his research. He is also interested in improving environmental education and has participated in outreach programs to local elementary schools. His project consisted of a visual display highlighting the vast numbers of species facing extinction as a direct result of a warming planet. In the future, Rob hopes that sustainability, in all its forms, becomes a central focus of american education.
At the time of COP21, Andrew Carroll was a junior studying Business Management at the University of Connecticut.