Defne Alpdogan is a senior from Cherry Hill, New Jersey pursuing a dual degree in Molecular and Cell Biology and Urban and Community studies on the pre-law track. This past summer, she worked with United States Senator Cory Booker in regard to constituent and policy work. Currently, she works for Nutmeg Publishing and works on writing pieces for the yearbook and the student magazine. During her time at UConn, Defne has been involved in SUBOG, Empowering Women in Law and Spoon University. She has worked on the creation of the Environmental Justice Mapping Tool for Connecticut through the joint partnership with DEEP and CIRCA. Defne hopes to become a lawyer someday and represent those who have been disenfranchised by the justice system. She hopes to work with communities in Philadelphia and give back to the community that has been impacted the most under justice policies. Attending the COP28 conference, she hopes to see the discussion of environmental justice and what nations are doing to address environmental issues that are impacting minority communities. During her free time, Defne likes to take long walks and listen to music.
Thomas Bonitz is a senior from Cheshire, CT majoring in Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Economics. On campus, he advocates for UConn to decarbonize and divest from fossil fuels as a member of Fossil Fuel Free UConn and engages in community service as a co-director of Honors Across State Borders and a team leader of Kids & UConn Bridging Education. He’s also a violist in the UConn Symphony Orchestra. In his past roles as a Sustainable CT Fellow, Sustainability Intern for Mansfield, CT, and co-creator of a sustainability camp curriculum for Manchester, CT, Thomas has sought to promote sustainability throughout the state. He is interested in researching the clean energy transition and environmental justice. He worked with a team headed by Dr. Xiang (Peter) Chen to study food insecurity in Greater Hartford and is now working with Dr. Carol Atkinson-Palombo to analyze the impact of commercial-scale solar installations on property prices. After graduating, Thomas hopes to pursue a career as a Professor, tackling climate change through research, teaching, and advocacy. He is thrilled and grateful to have the opportunity at COP to learn more about the global dynamics of climate change policy. He hopes to develop a stronger understanding of the stakeholders involved and the common ground we must find to address the climate crisis.
Janice Cheng is a senior from Barrington, Rhode Island pursuing a dual degree in Applied and Resource Economics and Global Studies. She aspires to unite her passion for sustainability with a visceral curiosity about international relations, which stems from her own dual-cultural background as a Chinese-Taiwanese American. Her exchange semester at the National University of Singapore last spring solidified her aspirations to continue gaining international experience in her professional endeavors, and COP will be an essential part of that journey. During this time, her travels throughout southeast Asia broadened her perspective on the social and environmental issues affecting different developing communities in contrast to those in the US, specifically, the mass consumption of single-use plastics and the growing economic disparities associated with rampant tourism. As such, she recognizes the importance of integrating global perspectives to solve issues as widespread as climate change and looks forward to connecting with representatives from other countries to learn how other nations approach their climate goals and what the US should take from these lessons. Janice's involvement on campus ranges from promoting cultural awareness to environmental stewardship: she is a mentor with AsACC's Asian/Asian American Mentoring Program, Vice President of Ecoposium, and research assistant at the Zwick Center and under the supervision of Professor Charles Towe in the Applied and Resource Economics department. Her current research projects include survey work on coastal resilience in the state of Connecticut and the impact of climate change on Lyme disease and human health. For this year's Ecoposium, she commits to incorporating an international component into each featured topic session based on new insights she brings from COP. Her interests lie within the energy industry, and she hopes to work at the intersection of the public and private sectors to implement decarbonization strategies by focusing on carbon markets, renewable developments, electrifying the grid, etc. In her spare time, Janice is most likely solving Sudoku or jigsaw puzzles, thrifting, testing new vegan recipes, and getting her zen on by moving through different yoga flows.
Victoria Duffy is a senior from New Hartford, Connecticut pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and a double minor in Sustainable Food Crop Production and Math. As a child she gardened, camped, and spent hours playing in the woods with her brothers, establishing an early fondness of nature. After joining the FFA in high school, she realized farming and sustainability are topics she is passionate about. She fostered this passion by volunteering with a nearby land trust in high school, working at a local, family run farm each summer, and eventually volunteering at Spring Valley Student Farm once in college. Victoria fell in love with the community at Spring Valley and applied to live there during the summer before her junior year. At this time, she also began working for the UConn Adventure Center (UAC). Through UAC trips, she further confirmed the joy she feels when in the outdoors and her desire to protect such a sacred space. After a summer (‘23) living and working as a naturalist educator in the Adirondack mountains, she returned to Spring Valley with the passion to teach people about connecting to the natural world and utilizing organic farming practices to sustain healthy soils. When not working at the UAC or the farm, Victoria can be found analyzing soil samples for UConn’s Technical Assistance for Brownfields program. The plan is to determine contaminants for the purpose of implementing community gardens. At COP28, she wishes to gain a global perspective on climate issues and how individuals can make a larger impact through social or political movements, while also asking about sustainable agriculture and how to divest from fossil fuels in the green energy sector. After graduation Victoria will be joining Kira Goldman in Sri Lanka, 2024, WWOOFing (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), and attending an Earthship Building Class in Taos, New Mexico. Perhaps one day she will dedicate herself to environmental law, engineering, or a PhD, but until then, she will continue summiting mountains, reading her favorite fantasy series, and prioritizing the gym over schoolwork.
Valentine Falsetta is a senior from Southbury, Connecticut pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering. Growing up with a land trust right down the street, Val spent much of their childhood exploring the trails, ponds, and cliffs of Connecticut. Involvement with their scouting organization and volunteering for the land trust taught them the importance of environmental stewardship. Val continued this commitment at UConn as a part of EcoHouse Learning community by volunteering for Spring Valley Student Farm, gaining hands-on involvement with sustainable agriculture practices and green energy. This summer as an intern with Fuss and O’Neill, Val traveled across the state, investigating properties for soil and groundwater contamination. This semester, Val is excited to be supporting the Town of Redding, Connecticut in writing a Brownfield Cleanup Grant, which if awarded would support Redding in the environmental remediation and redevelopment of their community. They are also excited to be embarking on a year-long Senior Design project where they will explore technologies that will help to remediate PFAS, so-called “forever-chemicals,” contaminated soil and groundwater. On campus, Val TAs for the College of Civil and Environmental Engineering and is a trip leader for UConn Recreation’s Outdoor Adventure Center, supporting participants on trips ranging from day hikes to ice climbing. In their free time, Val can be found biking, thrifting, hiking local trails, and climbing with friends. After graduation, Val hopes to contribute to the mission of the CT DEEP and the EPA in combating climate change and environmental injustice as caused by its disproportionate effects on marginalized populations. As a COP28 Fellow, Val is looking forward to learning from scientists, engineers, and survivors regarding issues of environmental emergency response and relief and the shortfallings and injustices that result from our current systems.
Kira Goldman is a senior honors student from Mansfield, Massachusetts majoring in Allied Health Science with a minor in Environmental Studies. After finishing freshman year online, she drove across the United States and was both struck by the beauty of the earth and disappointed by its underappreciation. She traveled with Volunteers Around the World to Peru in 2023 and was moved by the centrality of nature in Latin American culture. She noticed that worshiping nature is pivotal to leading movements to protect both the environment and women and minority rights, and in creating communities with people with balanced and happy lives. She came back to UConn with a desire to fire the same passion in her peers and founded a chapter of an international organization called Plan My Gap Year. Her goal is to take her peers to places with cultures that respect the earth, while simultaneously furthering their professional development in a hospital, conservation, or teaching setting through volunteer work. She took a cohort of students to Tanzania, Africa in 2023 and is currently planning the next trip to Sri Lanka in 2024. Kira is most passionate about the effect of anthropogenic developments on human health and biodiversity, specifically in regard to agriculture. She explores this intersection in her research alongside Dr. Kelsey Fisher at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. This project focuses on facilitating conservation of monarch butterflies, a flagship organism for pollinators that have seen massive declines over the past two decades. While at COP28, she is excited to investigate global initiatives on sustainable agricultural practices that work to protect human health and nutrition, biodiversity, and nature. On campus, Kira is a supplemental instructor for anatomy and physiology and is an academic mentor for STEM students. In her free time, she enjoys running, photography, playing outside with friends and being on Cape Cod.
Brett Hurley is a senior from Coventry, Connecticut studying Environmental Science and Political Science. His interest in the environment began in his high school’s environmental science class and continued throughout college with a particular focus on clean water and energy. On-campus, Brett is a member of the Clean Energy Society, Law Society, Fossil Fuel Free UConn, and the Special Program in Law He works for the Center of Environmental Science and Engineering as a Student Research Specialist in the Nutrients Laboratory, analyzing water quality and conducting his own research about the nutrient uptake ability of an on-campus wetland. In addition to scientific research, Brett is also passionate about environmental policy and regulation. Brett interned with State Representative Christine Palm during the 2023 Connecticut legislative session learning about the state legislative process and working to advance progressive environmental legislation. He is currently researching and writing his senior honors thesis on what differentiates decarbonization plans across New England states. At COP28 he hopes to learn more about countries' plans to decarbonize their electricity sectors and apply this knowledge to his research. After graduation Brett plans on attending law school with a particular interest in using the law to advocate for sweeping environmental action.
Sofia Karalekas is a senior at the University of Connecticut majoring in Political Science and Human Rights with minors in English and Global Studies. Through her studies, she has a concentration in Middle Eastern international affairs, so she is excited to be traveling to the United Arab Emirates for the 28th UN Conference of the Parties. Her previous internships in foreign and domestic policy have propelled her interest in public service, especially in relation to worldwide environmental justice. As an intern for the Franklin Lakes Borough Hall Environmental Commission, Sofia worked on passing Sustainable Jersey acts to rid her town of plastic bag usage and encourage consumers to buy locally. Her subsequent internship for the Democratic Party of Virginia allowed her to explore environmental policy on the federal level, and she focused on mobilizing constituents to elect politicians who would endorse effective sustainability actions. Likewise, as a Political Affairs Intern for the Borgen Project, Sofia lobbied for legislation that targeted global food insecurity, clean water, and pollution reduction as essential priorities of US foreign policy. Outside of her political endeavors, Sofia is an active member on campus at the University of Connecticut, where she works at the Writing Center, is a member of the CLAS Student Leadership Board, helps with propagation for the Horticulture Club, and completes academic research on armed conflict in Syria. After graduation, Sofia hopes to attend graduate school for international affairs and international policy, and she would like to eventually work for the Foreign Service once she tackles learning more languages. She is immensely grateful for the opportunity to attend COP28, and she is excited to witness the negotiations between world leaders at the conference. In her free time, Sofia enjoys hanging out with her friends, traveling, running, and cooking plant-based recipes.
Amanda McCard is a junior from Burlington, Connecticut majoring in environmental studies and journalism. She is passionate about approaching environmentalism from as many perspectives as possible and loves to learn about different avenues of sustainability. She is currently in her second year as an intern at the UConn Office of Sustainability, where she writes the monthly newsletter, helps create social media content, and is involved in planning campus-wide sustainability events. She is a director of Ecoposium, UConn, the university’s first student-run environmental symposium, and is organizing the section of the event centered around global perspectives and collective action. She has written articles that have been published in the environmental publication Planet Forward, as well as the UConn Journalism Magazine. Amanda also writes for UConn’s chapter of Her Campus, a national magazine written for college-aged women. Amanda hopes to reflect on the media landscape at COP28 and examine how rhetoric and storytelling can inspire change. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, creative writing, and yoga.
Mayowa Oladele is a passionate advocate for climate change mitigation and environmental sustainability. With a background in Industrial Chemistry and a current pursuit of a PhD in Chemical Engineering, Mayowa is interested in tackling pressing environmental challenges. His PhD research focuses on the modeling of anaerobic digestion processes with the aim of improving our approach to organic waste management and biogas production. By developing advanced models, Mayowa aims to turn organic waste into a valuable resource for biogas production while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a Fellow in UConn’s Future Climate Venture Studio program, Mayowa contributed his expertise to climate-tech startups, aiding in product development, strategy formation and market research of their solutions for combatting climate change. Recognizing the importance of global cooperation, Mayowa is excited to attend COP28 with the aim of networking with leading experts and policymakers from across the globe. This experience will amplify his research impact. Outside of research, Mayowa enjoys singing, cooking, and reading.
Naiiya Patel is a junior from East Haven, CT studying Accounting with a minor in Philosophy and Social Responsibility and Impact in Business. Naiiya's interest in sustainability began in her Business Law class where she learned about unsustainable and inhumane conditions of Amazon. This led to more research, which fed a core interest in overconsumption of consumer goods and corporate responsibility. In Spring 2022, Naiiya took a Climate Change philosophy course at UConn and found a deep fascination with the connection between overconsumption and climate change. The course gave a broad overview of climate change and discussed individual obligations in reducing carbon emissions, climate refugees, and eco-. Since then, Naiiya has joined the ClimateWerx entrepreneurship program with The Werth Institute in hopes of finding an idea to implement on UConn's campus related to overconsumption. Naiiya has worked at UConn Extension as a Financial Literacy for Youth and Young Adults Intern in Summer 2022. This internship led to Naiiya's Independent Study in Financial Literacy where she assisted in the creation of a financial literacy game for Connecticut high schoolers. On campus, Naiiya works as the Business Manager of the Daily Campus. Naiiya loves supporting journalism on campus and helping preserve UConn's history. Naiiya is proud to represent the School of Business at COP@28! She hopes her business background will be an asset during policy negotiations. She is grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and hopes it will be the first of many. In her free time, you can find Naiiya getting boba at Whale Tea, reading a good book, crocheting, or with friends!
Colin Piteo is a senior from East Hampton, CT, pursuing a dual degree in History and Political Science with minors in Latin American Studies and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. This past summer, he worked as a SURF undergraduate researcher, pursuing a personally designed project exploring an environmental protection law in Argentina, its implementation, and the public perception surrounding environmental actions, especially those taken in extractivist communities. He is now continuing this research through his honors thesis, looking into the relationship between resource nationalism, state capacity, and political parties in the Lithium Triangle. In addition, he has worked in education and curriculum development for the past three years with the MeshEd Collective, working to create climate justice curriculum for local communities in Connecticut and across the country. On campus, he is the News Editor at the Daily Campus and the News Director at WHUS Radio. He also enjoys propagating plants at UConn’s Horticulture Club, reading, spending time with friends, and walking in the woods. In the future, Colin is interested in working in Latin America and furthering his education. Attending COP28, he hopes to learn from diverse perspectives, including climate scientists and those from the global south, in order to incorporate these perspectives into new education curriculum and journalistic reporting. He also wishes to learn more about international cooperation in the field of climate action and sustainability, and what can be done on the international level to mitigate and prevent the impending climate crisis.
Colin Rosadino is a second year law student at UConn. He grew up in Glastonbury, CT and attended George Washington University for undergrad where he majored in Political Science and minored in History. Throughout college and law school, he has been involved with climate activism. He was a member of the Sunrise Movement hub at GW, researched and organized around climate reform in CT as an intern with the Connecticut Citizen Action Group this past summer, and currently works with a coalition of student organizations called Fossil Fuel Free UConn, pushing to end the University's ties with the fossil fuel industry. He serves as community engagement director for both the Public Interest Law Group and the National Lawyers Guild at UConn Law. He is also working as an intern with the Connecticut Sentencing Commission, researching reforms on the topics of juvenile parole and competency.
Mariam is a rising junior at the University of Connecticut from the class of 2025 and is working towards a degree in Political Science and Global Studies with a minor in Human Rights. She is interested in pursuing a career in International Security, International Relations and Policy. At UConn, Mariam is the co-president of the Dominican Student Association, she works as the Community Affairs Advocacy Coordinator for the Undergraduate Student Government. Mariam is currently working on research on human rights. Most recently she attended the Kosovo Summer Academy where she learned about conflict prevention and peacebuilding. And was selected as a 2023 Rangel Scholar for the Charles B. Rangel Summer Enrichment Program at Howard University. In her free time she enjoys reading thriller and murder mystery novels and traveling abroad. Growing up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Mariam has witnessed the way climate change has disproportionately affected smaller nations in the Global South.
Thelma Z. Abu is an Assistant Professor in Environment and Human Interactions in the Geography Department at the University of Connecticut. She has a background in Environmental Science and Health Geography. Dr. Abu is an interdisciplinary and collaborative researcher whose research interests include the social and ecological production of health and wellbeing at the intersection of global environmental change, environmental health inequalities, global health equity and gender. Three themes are at the heart of her current projects: the interplay of the unequal distribution of environmental resources and gender-based violence; the impact of development interventions in the global south related to water access; and how these major structural changes in access to environmental resources such as water affect health systems and outcomes. Before joining the University of Connecticut, she was a recipient of the University of Toronto, Mississauga Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her research focused on building resilient and healthy communities by exploring and learning from the COVID-19 experiences of the Black and immigrant communities in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo, Canada. Abu’s research focused on water insecurity, its gendered impacts on health facilities in rural communities and urban informal settlements as well as its role in emergency preparedness in Kisumu Kenya. She is currently an Early Career Board Member for Health and Place and Wellbeing, Space & Society Journals.
Oksan Bayulgen received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. She teaches a range of comparative politics courses, including introduction to comparative politics, politics of Russia and the former Soviet Union, comparative democratization, foreign policy of Russia, politics of oil, introduction to non-western politics and sustainable energy. Her research focuses on the political economy of energy and democratization in the post-Soviet and the Middle East regions. She has conducted extensive field-work in Azerbaijan, Russia, Norway, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. She is currently working on a project analyzing the politics of renewable energy development in Turkey.
Robert Bird is a Professor of Business Law and the Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics at the University of Connecticut. A graduate of Boston University School of Law and School of Management, Robert taught at Seton Hall University before joining the University of Connecticut in 2004.
Robert’s scholarship focuses on compliance, legal strategy, sustainability in global supply chains, business ethics, and employment law. Robert is also the co-director of the Certificate in Corporate and Regulatory Compliance, a joint graduate compliance program between the law school and business school. Authoring over seventy publications, Robert has published in a number of outlets, including the Journal of Law and Economics, American Business Law Journal, the Journal of Business Ethics, and the MIT Sloan Management Review.
Robert is the recipient of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB) best international paper award, distinguished proceedings award, the Holmes-Cardozo best overall conference paper award, and various other best paper awards. Robert was editor in chief of the American Business Law Journal in 2012-13. Robert has also won numerous teaching awards. Robert is the past president of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business, the international academic organization for professors of business law.
Desen Özkan is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Her research focuses on sociotechnical engineering education and education and workforce development for a just energy transition. She recently transitioned to UConn from Tufts University where she was a postdoctoral researcher focused on engineering education and offshore wind. She holds a Ph.D. in engineering education from Virginia Tech and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Tufts University.
Dr. Anji Seth earned a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Michigan with an Advanced Study Fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Her research centers on understanding regional processes within the context of global climate: from the role of vegetation, to precipitation extremes during El Nino events, to understanding how monsoon systems change in warmer climates. Much of this research employs numerical climate models to examine past, present and future climates. Professor Seth has recently led an assessment of climate change for the state of Connecticut, and we’re currently examining extreme heat events in past and future climates. She is the Chair of the UConn Atmospheric Sciences Group, and co-founder of UConn@COP.
Mark C. Urban is an international award-winning scientist, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and global expert on climate change impacts on nature. He has authored over 45 scientific articles, appearing in top journals such as Science and Nature Climate Change. He has obtained funding from the National Science Foundation and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
His work on climate change risks for species extinctions was highlighted as one of the top scientific discoveries of 2015 by Discover Magazine. He was recently awarded the Presidential award from the American Society of Naturalists. His research has been covered by news outlets around the world including The New York Times, NPR, CBS, CNN, BBC, Associated Press, Washington Post, The Guardian, and National Geographic. He has consulted on stories about climate change appearing in National Geographic and the television series, Years of Living Dangerously.
UConn@COP Fellow Alumni
Lilly Adamo is a junior from Greenwich, Connecticut and is majoring in Environmental Science and Political Science. Most recently, she had the opportunity to be a Sustainable CT fellow, in the Western Council of Government region. Lilly collaborated with and led a team of 11 other fellows in the creation of an affordable housing project that documented and categorized affordable housing plan strategies from all 169 towns in Connecticut. This database will inform future Sustainable CT programming, as well as the creation of affordable housing across the state. She is also currently an intern at the Office of Sustainability. Lilly is passionate about climate mitigation, adaptation, and the creation of fully sustainable communities as well its intersection with policy. She is most excited to observe intersectoral collaboration at the international level at COP27. Outside of these activities, Lilly is a member of the UConn Women’s D-1 Rowing team and the Major Events Chair for Alpha Lambda Delta, a campus honors society.
Laura Augenbraun is a junior from Sandy Hook, Connecticut double majoring in mathematics and journalism with a minor in environmental studies. Her passion for the environment began in high school, particularly surrounding deforestation issues. Currently, she is co-leading an environmental justice leadership program, where she works alongside four students and a faculty member on teaching environmental activism to fellow students. She has done a lot of work surrounding the climate crisis during her time as an intern with UConn Praxis in the Sustainable Skies campaign, as well as while writing about environmental issues for The Daily Campus. Laura is also an engagement intern for UConn Hillel, a research assistant doing data analytics work alongside professors and graduate students in the Engineering Department, and works in the Dean of Students Office at UConn. She is very thankful to have been given the opportunity to travel to Egypt and attend the Climate Conference, and is looking forward to learning more about how other countries around the world are tackling the climate crisis.
Christabelle Calabretta is a third-year law student at the University of Connecticut School of Law pursuing an Energy and Environmental Law Certificate. She has a strong passion for environmental law and climate change policy. She was a research assistant at the CIRCA where she aided in the initial research of stormwater management plans for Connecticut municipalities. She was President of the Energy and Environmental Law Society and founded the Energy and Environmental Law Negotiation Competition at UConn Law, which focuses on exposing students to broad issues relating to environmental law and climate change in the U.S. government. Christabelle is also a legal fellow at DesegregateCT and is currently researching state grant programs that will help Connecticut's land use policies become more equitable. Outside of class, she is very interested in fashion and sustainable shopping, hiking, and cooking!
Erik Choi is a senior from Storrs, Connecticut studying Physiology & Neurobiology and Economics. His interest in sustainability and climate change largely comes from a healthcare perspective, particularly how climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health. He hopes to pursue a career in which he facilitates the cooperation of healthcare practitioners and health policymakers in ameliorating the effects of climate change on disadvantaged populations. On campus, he volunteers with Kidney Disease Club and UConn Health Leaders to provide health resources to underserved communities in Connecticut. As part of the Human Rights Symposium, he works to showcase relevant topics and issues in the realm of human rights. He enjoys sharing his writing as the Director of Writing for STEMTalk Magazine, a student-run publication with the goal of publishing writing on pertinent issues in the sciences. Erik works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Goldhamer Lab, researching the role of stem cells in a mouse model of a rare bone disease called FOP. He has received Holster, IDEA, and SURF grants to fund his work. Erik is also a Writing Center tutor, a Peer Research Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research, and a member of the CLAS Student Leadership Board. He is greatly appreciative of the opportunity to attend COP27 and learn from other climate activists. He hopes to share what he learns from COP27 with the greater UConn community to further sustainability initiatives. In his free time, Erik enjoys film photography, eating Costco food samples, struggling to snowboard, and playing soccer with friends.
Sydney Collins is a senior from Coventry, CT majoring in Environmental Science. Growing up in a rural community, Sydney’s playscape was her local streams, cow pastures, and backyard forest. She remembers the disbelief she felt as a child when first learning about “global warming” – and came to university in the hopes of protecting the environment. In 2020 after feeling stuck in the classroom, Sydney joined AmeriCorps for a year of public service at Buffalo City Hall. Being immersed in an incredibly diverse city, she saw firsthand how low-income communities and communities of color were disproportionately impacted by environmental harm. Her goal was to facilitate community engagement for city initiatives. She conducted outreach for a Climate Vulnerability Assessment, collected data for many neighborhood revitalization programs, and participated in equity-based mapping. She also helped with the city’s green infrastructure workforce development program that supported at-risk youth in low-income communities. Coming back to university, she quickly engaged with UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG). As the Sustainability Advocacy Coordinator, she organized panels around justice-focused climate transitions, became involved with statewide advocacy, and supported community-building around environmental justice on campus. This year, she rose to the Student Services Director and oversees a range of advocacy areas including mental and sexual health, food insecurity, transportation, and environmental justice where she hopes to uplift the importance of intersectionality in the climate movement. In the classroom, Sydney aims to learn more about indigenous sovereignty and looks forward to connecting with local organizations at COP27 around ideas of liberation and justice. She is recently involved with recovery and disability advocacy and wants to explore how these identities are represented at COP@27. In her free time, Sydney loves to bike and cook plant-based recipes – and also recently got scuba certified!
Sam Kocurek is a senior from Shelton, Connecticut pursuing a dual degree in Mathematics and Environmental Science and a dual minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. He is the president and re-founder of Soil and Water Conservation Society, treasurer of EcoGarden, a research aide with Dr. Davis in EEB and Dr. Kuzovkina in PSLA, and the Senior Resident Assistant at Charter Oak Apartments. He is also an intern with the UConn Office of Sustainability. There he completes multiple tasks including completing the university's greenhouse gas inventory, certifying the university as a Tree and Bee Campus USA, and facilitating the EcoCaptain program to name a few. Otherwise on campus you'll catch Sam running many miles, climbing at the climbing center, hanging in the EEB greenhouses, or watching One Piece (shout out to my brother for getting me 800 episodes deep). Post-graduation, Sam hopes to be in a master's program of Environmental Management to further his knowledge of sustainability in the emerging world. Sam received his LEED Green Associate accreditation over the summer sparking an interest in sustainable infrastructure. At COP, he is interested in seeing how other countries envision a greener planet related to their infrastructure. There is so much knowledge that COP27 will bring together and keeping intersectionality and environmental justice central to the discussion of green infrastructure is important. He can't wait to see their solutions at COP!
Karen Lau is a sophomore from Norwich, Connecticut majoring in economics with minors in Asian American studies and political science. Her advocacy for environmental justice began with the Connecticut Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL). She worked with Dr. Roger Kuhns, CCL's CT State Coordinator, and Anne Schmidt to advocate for the Climate Emergency Act, a bill that would accelerate the pace of the clean energy transition and lead to a fossil-fuel-free economy. Through this work, she learned about the intersection between climate change, housing insecurity, and racial equity. As a COP27 Fellow, she is eager to deepen her understanding of climate change's impact on refugees, learn about crafting clean energy policy, and witness climate negotiations. Currently, Karen is engaged in humanities research as an inaugural UConn Humanities Institute Undergraduate Research Fellow and a 2022 Holster Scholar. She is also involved in the Human Rights Symposium, UConn College Democrats, and the Special Program in Law. She aspires to work in education policy and public interest law after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys reading The NYTimes Modern Love column, listening to Wallows, and collecting corduroy pants.
Claire Lee is a junior from Glastonbury, Connecticut pursuing a dual degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Political Science on the pre-law track. This past summer, she worked with the Stamford-based startup company Social Labs, within UConn's Technology Incubator Program Fellow, as a Research and Strategy Fellow. Currently, she interns with UConn's Office of Sustainability to promote and advance sustainability initiatives across campus. Throughout her time at UConn, Claire has been involved as the Vice President of the Honors in STEM organization, the current Founder and President of Ecoposium, UConn - the university's first student-run environmental symposium - and a research assistant for Professor Scott Wallace in the Department of Journalism. By engaging students and faculty through a diverse space that stimulates open discussion in a symposium setting, she hopes to unite various perspectives and ideas under the broad field of environmentalism. Claire hopes to become a lawyer someday to represent unheard voices and advocate for meaningful social change through the law. Combining her academic interests in the sciences and humanities throughout her undergraduate career motivates her desire to enact change through a multilateral approach. Attending the COP27 conference this year will provide a firsthand experience on the international negotiations that take place surrounding various climate-related issues. In her free time, Claire enjoys listening to music and taking two hour-long naps.
Sofya Levitina is a junior undergraduate student majoring in Physics and Mathematics-Statistics. Being born in Russia and later moving to the US, Sofya developed an interest in science and mathematics since it was the only language both countries spoke. Coming into college, Sofya has thrown herself into the field of computational astrophysics research which helped her get an REU opportunity at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory this past summer. During the internship, Sofya worked closely with the frontrunners of climate change research and learned the different ways science surrounding large political issues is conducted. The media had a large effect in how scientists at Columbia University communicated their findings and what research projects were approved to be done. The incredible scientific results and the slight bias Sofya found in her internship inspired her to apply to UConn@COP. Sofya is most excited to visit the science pavilions at COP and learn about the forward science on the matter of climate change. Sofya is also extremely interested in transitioning into energy physics later in her career, so understanding the newest energy science breakthroughs through their presentation at COP is crucial to her future. Sofya advocates for objective science and wants to visit COP to talk accurately about climate change. She is incredibly lucky and thankful to be able to participate in UConn@COP and cannot wait to listen to professionals discuss the issue on an international level.
Ben North is an MBA candidate at the UConn School of Business. At UConn, Ben is a portfolio manager for the student managed fund where he hopes to better incorporate sustainability into the team’s investment decision-making process. This past summer Ben participated as a fellow in UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP), which helps to grow startup companies in Connecticut. Through this program, he worked with Unscrambl, an augmented intelligence data analytics company, where he explored datasets pertaining to sustainability, such as U.S. energy generation and emissions, to provide insights for improving the company's software product for clients. Ben previously completed a Ph.D. at the University of Florida in natural resource economics where his research focused on bioenergy production in the Southeastern U.S. to meet growing international demands for bioenergy, particularly from the E.U. and the U.K. Prior to the Ph.D., Ben gained professional experience working for several environmental organizations in Connecticut including the Highstead Foundation, the Connecticut Green Bank (the nation's first green bank), and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Ben also completed an M.S. in conservation biology and two B.S. degrees (molecular & cell biology and ecology & evolutionary biology) at the University of Connecticut. Ben is excited to learn more about international climate policy at COP27 by seeing the negotiation process firsthand.
Monet Paredes is a Junior from Worcester, Massachusetts majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Her work with local and federal government has propelled her interest in public service especially as it relates to environmental justice. As a fellow of Sustainable CT she worked with Connecticut towns to promote community resilience and sustainability actions at the local level. As a Congressional intern for Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), she bore witness to the complexity of the immigration and refugee crisis that will only be exacerbated by the climate crisis. Through UConn@COP she hopes to expand her perspective of the intersectionality of both crises through an international lense. She aims to gain a deeper understanding of global environmental politics - especially as it relates to refugees, food insecurity and energy policy - which she is excited to share with her peers at UConn. After graduation she hopes to move to Washington D.C. to work in government and advocacy. In her free time she enjoys making art, playing soccer, watching documentaries and working in the UConn Archives!
Jocelyn Phung is a senior from Milford, Connecticut majoring in Chemical Engineering and minoring in math and human rights. She is the co-president of Alima International Dance Association, the treasurer of UConn Collaborative Organizing, a member of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, an undergraduate teaching assistant and a Senior Resident Assistant in Northwood Apartments. Jocelyn's passion for environmental justice stemmed from her experience growing up in Hong Kong, a beautiful city sadly ridden with pollution. Jocelyn has been involved in undergraduate research on monitoring air pollution in the North End of Hartford, CT with the Computational Atmospheric Chemistry and Exposure lab since her sophomore year. She is grateful that she can put her chemical engineering knowledge and skills to use while engaging the Hartford community in understanding air pollution exposure. After graduation, Jocelyn is planning to work in green energy or environmental-related positions. At COP27, Jocelyn is particularly interested in learning about ways to ensure a just energy transition as well as balancing economic development in the global South and resulting environmental impacts from an international policy standpoint. She is immensely thankful and excited about the conference. During her free time, Jocelyn likes reading, travelling, catching up with friends and spending time in nature.
Maggie Singman is a senior from Tarrytown, New York, double majoring in Environmental Health and Human Rights here at UConn. Her journey into the world of environmentalism and the battle against climate change has been complicated yet filled with curiosity and hope. She grew up living in a state park and had the childhood opportunity of being immersed in nature, where she saw firsthand the detrimental effects of pollution and lack of environmental will. She knew from a young age that she wanted to help the beautiful planet that always did the same for her. Maggie traveled out west to escape online classes in the Fall of 2020 and was privileged to learn all about local ecosystems surrounding different national parks, their complicated histories, and the present-day socio-economic challenges which surrounding communities face. Back at UConn, she has made strides to find her niche within the environmental space. Maggie has been an Intern with the Office of Sustainability since March of 2020. In this position, she focuses mostly on completing international sustainability surveys for UConn, educating students and faculty about various events and initiatives at the O.S. through the Newsletter and social media platforms, plans and coordinates events, works to advance environmental justice, and more. She is also a research fellow at the Eversource Energy Center, where she is analyzing disparities in the solar energy transition here in CT. Maggie has many passions and appreciates the interdisciplinary aspect of her studies at UConn. She hopes that COP27 can help clarify some big questions she has about the next step after graduation and inspire her to harness her childhood self by staying as curious and excited as possible! Maggie hopes to focus on the issues of social/environmental responsibility of large-scale polluters at COP27. On her free time, she enjoys photography, laughing, hiking, and staying adventurous in all she does.
Caroline Webb is a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a Human Health Concentration and minoring in both Molecular and Cell Biology and Development Economics and Policy. She is passionate about the intersection of public health and the environment and is involved in various research projects at UConn, with the ultimate goal of pursuing a career in health research and/or nursing. In the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology she works in the Knutie Lab, where she is a Project Lead for the Nest Parasite Community Science Project, a citizen science project that analyzes differences in parasitism across the range of tree swallows and eastern bluebirds. Additionally, Caroline works under Dr. Lee in the Department of Kinesiology, assisting with projects that seek to better understand the mechanisms of human resilience in response to exercise-induced stress. Caroline is also a NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholar and completed a joint internship last summer with the National Weather Service Los Angeles/Oxnard office and South Coast Air Quality Management District on a project examining how meteorological parameters can be used to better predict unhealthy ozone levels in the LA Basin. Caroline describes this experience as most meaningful in the way it highlighted current environmental injustices issues related to air quality and climate change. At COP27, she is most excited to learn about grass-roots efforts from climate groups around the world. Outside of academics, Caroline is a member of the UConn Women’s D1 Cross Country and Track Teams and EcoHusky, the school environmental club.
Musa Hussain is a junior political science and sociology double major. At UConn, he is involved with the climate justice group Fridays For Future, works as an editor for the Undergraduate Political Review, and tries to make it to club run practice whenever he can. He is currently doing research on affective political polarization through the co-op legacy program, and studied and presented on intersectionality in climate justice groups his freshman summer as a Holster scholar. Off campus, Musa has interned at the Yale Program on Financial Stability, and on the Justin Farmer for state senate campaign. In the future, Musa hopes to continue fighting climate change by making the environmental movement more diverse and inclusive, and is interested in doing more research through the university. In his free time, he enjoys going for walks, swimming, and getting swiped into the dining hall.
Nidhi Nair is a junior from Farmington, CT majoring in Economics and Mathematics-Statistics. She grew up in India and is a recent immigrant to the United States. Nidhi serves the UConn community as the President of the Economics Society, founder and Executive Director of the Invisible Hand Speaker Series, as Treasurer of Women and Minorities in Economics, as a Werth Innovator, a resident assistant, and as a United Nations Millennium Fellow. Beyond UConn, Nidhi was a PGPF intern at the Cato Institute, an alumnus of the Summer Honors Program at the American Enterprise Institute, and a research intern at the Hamilton Project in the Brookings Institution. She is passionate about advancing a bipartisan approach to the financial inclusion of underrepresented minorities, and is currently working on a research project to study the financial literacy rates of undergraduates at the University of Connecticut, with an emphasis on first-generation and minority communities. Nidhi hopes to pursue a PhD in economics and work in domestic fiscal policy.
Sena Wazer is a Senior Environmental Studies student and is particularly interested in how policy can help us achieve solutions to the climate crisis. She is also a 2021 Truman Scholar and the co-director of Sunrise CT. As co-director, Sena helped organize the September 20th and December 6th, 2019 youth climate strikes at the CT State Capitol in Hartford. In early 2020, she was also the lead organizer for the Sunrise CT youth lobby day at the CT state legislature, which brought over 150 students to the Capitol. Over the summer of 2020, Sena chaired a subcommittee on the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, and phone banked for candidates who ran for state legislature. Recently, she helped organize and facilitate the first Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Youth Climate Summit. Through attending COP26 Sena hopes to learn more about international climate policy, and have the opportunity to push for bolder climate action, while also making connections with other activists and policy makers.
Maizey MabrySmith is a senior from Columbia, CT pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. Maizey is a Presidential Scholar, Babbidge Scholar, and a recipient of the Jeffrey D. Urman, M.D. Endowed Scholarship for Leadership in Environmental Studies. As a Senior Sustainability Intern at the UConn Office of Sustainability, Maizey has worked on a variety of initiatives at UConn, most notably the AASHE Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS) Assessment which awarded UConn its first ever Platinum score. She is also passionate about improving waste operations on campus and serves as a member of the Zero Waste Workgroup of the UConn Environmental Policy Advisory Council (EPAC). By conducting a large-scale assessment of waste operations on campus, Maizey worked with the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) to offer incremental policy recommendations for UConn to achieve “zero waste.” Outside of the OS, Maizey is an advocate for equitable housing policy. During the summer of 2021, Maizey had the opportunity to research aggravating factors for evictions and homelessness in the wake of Covid-19. She spends nights at the Windham Region No Freeze Shelter, providing resources and support to individuals experiencing homelessness. After UConn, Maizey aspires to attend law school and pursue a career in environmental law.
Lindsay Alfano is a third-year law student at the University of Connecticut School of Law pursuing an Energy and Environmental Law certificate and has a strong passion for environmental, energy, and animal law. She is currently a law clerk for the Department of Justice in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division in Washington, D.C. She was a summer associate at the Connecticut Green Bank where she aided with clean energy development on the state level, working closely with Connecticut’s leaders in clean energy and resiliency. She served as a law clerk at the Humane Society of the United States where she worked on issues such as improper hunting practices and improving animal legislation. She was a research assistant to two professors at UConn law. First, she was a research assistant for Professor Lindseth and completed a special research project focusing on the late Elinor Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development Framework and common-pool resource management. She was then a research assistant to Professor Sara Bronin. With Professor Bronin, she completed research on zoning and local regulation of land use. Lindsay has a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed a study abroad program in Copenhagen studying European Sustainable Development.
Khadija Shaikh is from Charlotte, North Carolina and is a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Social Justice Organizing. She is a STEM Scholar in the Honors program, as well as on the CLAS Dean's List throughout her time as a student at the University of Connecticut. Khadija spent this past summer interning with the Connecticut Trail Finder and Trail Census Programs where she supported the team by aiding and implementing initiatives focused on intersectional environmentalism and environmental justice such as land acknowledgments, environmental justice blog series, collaborations between NatureRx and CT Trail Finder, and the Anti- Racism in the Outdoors Symposium. She also composed narrative trail postings of trails around the state of Connecticut and provided them to trail managers, as well as published them on the CT Trail Finder for public access. This semester, Khadija started working at the Asian American Cultural Center as the Salaam Coordinator, through which she organizes events with other student organizations with the hope of eradicating Islamophobia at UConn with the awareness and understanding of the Islamic lifestyle. She is currently facilitating communication between UConn Muslim student organizations to build an active all-inclusive Muslim community as well as working to develop a respectful relationship between the Muslim community and the University's administration. In addition to being the Salaam coordinator, Khadija is a student grader for the Environmental Studies Department, for which she helps incoming professors develop syllabi and lesson plans, grade assignments, and provide feedback on the effectiveness of the course. Khadija has also established the My Environmental Story column in the Daily Campus Opinion Section this semester which has an emphasis on fostering a community that provides a space for those who marginalized identities and voices that have been historically suppressed and unheard in the environmentalism movement due to systemic injustices. If you would like to contribute, let her know! She is always looking for more contributors! Alongside her many jobs, Khadija is involved in EcoHusky and UConn Collaborative Organizing (UCCO), both of which are student-led organizations focused on the intersectionality of social justice movements. Through her E-board positions in both organizations, Khadija promotes the intersectionality of environmentalism while combatting tokenism and promoting diversity and active inclusivity. She challenges the norms of the environmental movement by having critical conversations of intent vs impact with both officers and members of the clubs. Khadija is passionate about personalizing and decolonizing the environmental movement by working towards the active inclusion and empowerment of individuals with marginalized identities. These values are the reason why Khadija was interested in the UConn@COP26 Program - she loves making connections with other environmentalists with identities that are not typically represented in the climate movement, like herself! Outside of being a voice for the climate justice movement, Khadija loves modest sustainable fashion, making art, and being a plant mom!
Chase Mack is a junior from Haddam, Connecticut pursuing a dual degree in Environmental Science and Political Science along with a minor in History. Over the past few years, Chase has been active in both environmentally related extracurriculars and internships. Chase is the current vice-president of Ecohusky, which is a student group centered on furthering environmental justice on campus. At the same time, he works in the Office of Sustainability and is on the Environmental Policy Advisory Committee. Additionally, Chase does research for the Natural Resource and Environment department under Professor Lawrence, where he assists in saltwater marsh restoration projects. At the state level, Chase has interned for the previous state Environmental Committee co-chair Representative Borer and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Energy Bureau. In his spare time, he competes with the Club Track and Field team and enjoys watching Marvel movies. Chase hopes to apply to law school next year and pursue a juris doctorate in Environmental Law. From this conference, he hopes to learn as much as possible with international, national, and regional policy regarding the climate crisis.
Brandon Hermoza-Ricci is currently a senior studying Civil Engineering with a minor in Urban and Community Studies at the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering. He is a research intern at the Innovation and Partnership Building’s Eversource Energy Center. Here Brandon is reviewing the renewable energy goals by the state legislature and analyzing how it would carry over to sourced distribution among solar and wind generation. During his sophomore and junior year Brandon collaborated with other students and faculty on the President’s Working Group for Sustainability and the Environment (PWGSE). This group published two reports co-authored by its members outlining steps UConn can take to reducing its carbon footprint as well as a multiple scenarios outlining how the university can become a zero-carbon campus by 2050. Brandon has also been selected to be one of two student representatives on the Environmental Policy Advisory Council for the 2021-2022 academic year. In his hometown Brandon is the co-chair of his village’s sustainability committee which he was a founding member alongside other environmentally minded residents. Brandon became interested in this program after hearing from fellow students on the PWGSE explain how surreal the experience was. His main purpose in attending COP26 is to learn how world leaders are addressing the intersectionality of climate change and urban areas. Ultimately Brandon’s hopes to achieve a PhD in urban planning so he can contribute to building cities that are sustainable, interacting, enjoyable, and equitably just. During his free time Brandon enjoys playing Squash with the UConn Squash Club and when the winds are right, taking flight with his paraglider.
Lily Forand is a junior from West Hartford, Connecticut majoring in Political Science and Journalism. Her experience interning with Senator Chris Murphy in Washington, D.C. showed her just how polarized this country is, and how much influence the narratives that dominate news media and politics have over our perception of issues like climate change. This motivated her to pursue work with The Daily Campus as associate video editor and with the Undergraduate Student Government as director of its public policy branch. Through her work in USG, she hopes to lobby state lawmakers to pass environmental legislation and encourage UConn administration to make climate conscious decisions. She will also be completing a journalism project next summer as part of the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network where she will interview people from across the political spectrum to understand how they’ve come to believe what they do. She plans to travel to both liberal and conservative communities in the states and ask residents questions about their views on climate change, the future of the fossil fuel industry, and other topics. She believes that the fate of the climate crisis hinges on how we talk to people about it, and how we can make the cause of climate justice accessible and compelling to everyone, even if they don’t yet see their place in the movement. She is very grateful for the opportunity to attend this conference. Outside of work and school, she loves hanging out with her friends and hammocking around campus.
Amisha is a senior at UConn (CLAS '22) pursuing a B.S. in Physiology and Neurobiology and B.A. in Economics, with minors in Global Studies and Anthropology of Global Health. On-campus, she serves as the Executive Director of UConn Global Health Spaces on Campus, organizing UConn's annual Global Health Symposium and Hackathon in efforts to encourage campus-wide awareness and dialogue surrounding current challenges and progress in global health. She has also been recognized as a UN Foundation Global Health Fellow and a Millennium Fellow. Amisha is also the co-founder of GloHub, a web platform that seeks to democratize access to global health education, resources, and community. She is engaged in developmental neurobiology research on campus in Conover Lab as well as in health economics research. Amisha also serves as a Trip Director with UConn Community Outreach's Alternative Breaks Program. She volunteers with the Mobility is Medicine program at Hartford Hospital and conducts social determinants of health and health literacy screenings at UConn Health. Amisha enjoys performing as a trained Odissi dancer and promoting Indian classical arts on campus in her role as Co-President of Sanskriti, UConn's Indian Classical Arts collaborative. She also enjoys traveling, learning new skills, and collecting stories. Amisha is interested in understanding the incredibly large and inequitable impact climate change has on the health of our communities. She is attending COP26 in hopes of learning more about the impact of climate change on health, understanding what international conversations in this space look like, and better preparing herself to advocate for climate action for human health to local and national leaders.
Duygu is a senior at the University of Connecticut studying Business Management and minoring in Global Studies and Economics. Her experience interning at a sustainable consumer goods product company in London sparked her interest in researching corporate sustainability. She is the head of the Sustainability Committee in UConn’s Global Ambassador program where she presents on initiatives companies can take to contribute to tackling climate change. As the President of the International Business Association at UConn, she helps organize events featuring global organizations and corporate social responsibility leaders. She believes that companies hold a lot of power in creating meaningful change and protecting our planet; so as a prospective business leader, she takes part in organizations that allow her to learn about being a decision maker who puts forth the environment and people who live in it. Being a volunteer and the Vice President of Unicef Campus Initiative, she contributes to fundraising efforts and presents about key global human rights issues around the world to create awareness amongst students on campus. By attending COP26, she wants to hear about the perspectives of all; those who are directly affected by climate change, young leaders/activists and the decision makers. Through observing sustainable business models, she wants to find solutions for existing problems within mass consumer goods production and fast fashion. Coming back home, she wants to spread this knowledge to current and future workspaces she is a part of so they can create collective action.
Louanne Cooley is a third-year student at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She is a research assistant at the Center for Energy and Environmental Law at UConn Law and is pursuing a Certificate in Energy and Environmental Law. She has focused on Energy Law and Policy, Land Use, Environmental Law and Animal Law. This summer she was an intern at Pratt and Whitney in Environmental Health and Safety Compliance. Previously she interned at the State of Connecticut DEEP Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Additionally, she serves on the Town of Mansfield Planning and Zoning Commission and has helped revise town zoning regulations. Louanne has a BA and MS in Biology from Bowling Green State University and pursued PhD studies at the University of Michigan where she taught at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Prior to Law School, she was an adjunct instructor at UConn’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Hope is currently a sophomore studying Environmental Engineering with a minor in Human Rights. She came to UConn from Common Ground, an ecologically themed high school in New Haven, which gave her a background in topics of environmental justice and food production. At UConn she interns at the Office of Sustainability, working with technical aspects of energy efficiency such as LEED building design, as well as social awareness programs such as the Green Office Certification program and other outreach. Hope is taking a course through the CT Brownfields Initiative at UConn where she is learning about environmental policy, remediation engineering, and the multidisciplinary aspects of brownfield transformation. In the fall she and three other students are writing an EPA grant for the city of Middletown, and in the spring she will do her "practicum" with a town on a Brownfields project. She is also an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Christine Kirchhoff, who is analyzing both the barriers and drivers of resiliency action in coastal Connecticut towns. Hope believes that in her very technical engineering program, it is necessary and beneficial to step out into the world of social sciences. Engineers may design solar panel systems, or carbon capture technologies, but the policy framework can be critical to their actual implementation. There is a history and an art to international relations, around environmental issues and beyond, that Hope knows little about. That is where she is drawn to learn more.
Megan Ferris is a senior from Danbury, CT majoring in Environmental Science with a concentration in global change and a minor in Animal Science. Over the past two summers, she has interned at Woodcock Nature Center as an Environmental Educator where she implemented environmental lessons, facilitated hands-on nature-themed activities, and encouraged children to connect with their natural surroundings. She also volunteered in the Bagchi lab on the FEN project studying forest fragmentation on invasive Gypsy Moths in Connecticut forests. At UConn, she is the Vice-President of the UConn Wildlife Society, and in her free time loves to hike, hammock, read, and swim. She is very interested in environmental justice, policy, and education and is looking forward to hearing how different nations are taking action against climate change. She hopes to implement what she learns at COP25 in her own life by teaching her communities what other nations have done in response to the climate emergency and by opening conversations in order to make all people more aware of the urgent issues at stake.
Michael Goccia is a senior from Mystic, CT pursuing a dual degree in Management and Economics. He spent the summer working as a Strategic Investment Intern at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT. His cross country road trip in 2018 exploring many of America’s National Parks and Forests and strong passion for the outdoors inspired him to get more involved with conservation and climate change related endeavors. Mike has a focus on resource economics and how climate change and sustainability policy relates to business operations. After graduation, Mike hopes to enter the workforce helping to impact business sustainability in a positive way. At UConn, Mike enjoys being involved and staying active. Mike is the volunteer Program Director for the Mansfield Middle School Tutoring Program where he oversees tutoring for about 75 other UConn students. Mike is also on the UConn Western Team and involved in weekend hiking trips with the UConn Outing Club.
Georgia G. Hernández
Georgia G. Hernández is a graduate student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on physiological responses of tropical plants to temperature and local adaptation, and how tropical plants will respond to climate change. She conducts her thesis research in her native Costa Rica, working with Zingiberales (gingers, heliconias, and banana tree-like plants). She earned a B.Sc. degree in Biology at National University of Costa Rica and then worked as an intern at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama for six months. Georgia is also co-founder of an environmental and social Enterprise called Brenesii, focusing on activities that combine science communication, outreach and research in Costa Rica. She received the recognition of Environmental Leadership Award (Office of Environmental Policy and the Environmental Policy Advisory Council, University of Connecticut) thanks to Brenesii’s contributions to education and dedication to environmental literacy of Costa Rican students.
Spencer is a Senior from Cheshire, Connecticut pursuing a degree in Political Science and Economics. From a young age, Spencer has been passionate about the environment and outdoors due to family fishing and camping trips. This passion for the great outdoors evolved into an interest in environmental policy and protecting wildlife. In spring of 2019, Spencer interned for Connecticut State Representative Mike Demicco, who is the Chairman of the House Environment Committee. At this internship, Spencer was able to learn more about the environmental policy issues in the State of Connecticut. On UConn’s campus, Spencer is the President and founder of the UConn Debate Team. After college, Spencer hopes to be an advocate for environmental policy and promoting renewable energy. At COP25 in Madrid, Spencer is looking forward to learning more about how leaders plan to deal with the effects of climate change at an international level.
Xinyu Lin is a senior studying Civil Engineering with minors in Environmental Engineering and Math. She spent this summer interviewing minority identity leaders in the environmental movement from across America as a BOLD Women's Leadership Network Scholar, and presented this work through a photo story exhibition this fall titled "Our Sides on the Outside" to bring awareness to diversity issues in environmental advocacy. As the Program Director of the SOS Food Recovery Program, she works closely with food waste and insecurity issues in the UConn and Willimantic communities. Xinyu is a researcher on the UConn PIRE Project and is investigating how groundwater resources in Ethiopia can be utilized as a dependable water source by subsistence farmers to supplement unpredictable rainfall patterns due to the climate crisis. She is also a trip leader for UConn Outdoors and enjoys climbing, hiking and biking. Xinyu hopes to work as a technical expert on community-based solutions to social issues exacerbated by the climate emergency. She loves eating hummus and having thoughtful conversations.
Emma MacDonald is a junior in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources. She is a Natural Resources major with a focus in sustainable forest management; by the end of a hike with her, you will be able to identify at least one more tree than you could at the beginning of the hike. She was elected President of Service of EcoHusky for the 2019-2020 school year and was selected to serve as a student representative on the Environmental Policy Advisory Committee this year as well. Additionally, she is a member of the organizing board for Fridays For Future, the club on campus that led UConn’s branch of the Global Climate Strike on September 20th, 2019. She is passionate and curious, and if she could spend the rest of her life attending college, she would pursue a degree in everything from Astronomy to Musical Theatre. She has performed in more than 25 musicals, and has a love for singing that rings through in all aspects of her life.
Himaja Nagireddy, from Acton, MA, is a senior undergraduate student pursuing three degrees in Molecular and Cell Biology, Physiology and Neurobiology, and Sociology with a minor in Chemistry. She is a STEM Scholar, Honors Scholar, BOLD Scholar, 2019 Leadership Legacy Fellow, and was a UConn representative for the Truman, Udall, and Marshall Scholarships. Himaja is an elected representative of the National Council for the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), a civil organization founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, where she works with over 20,000 members to coordinate efforts to support the UN. Through her work at UNA-USA, she has attended the 62nd and 63rd Commission on the Status of Women and launched a national gender equality education program called the 2019 Emerging Leaders Fellowship. Himaja is currently pursuing her theses research in Sociology and Molecular and Cell Biology at the UConn-Eversource Center and the Jackson Laboratory in Genomic Medicine, respectively. Himaja is also a 2019-2020 Virtual Student Federal Intern for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where she works on world food resiliency research with the Senior Youth Advisor for the Bureau for Food Security. Through her work, Himaja strives to better understand the intersectionalities between health, society, and the environment, which is why she is excited to attend the COP25 this year.
Danny Alejandro Osorio
Danny Alejandro Osorio was born in Colombia and is a junior studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Marine Sciences. He spent his previous summer conducting research through an REU at Pepperdine University in Malibu. Here, he studied the ecology of the fish species, California grunion, on California beaches, an environment under pressure. Beaches play critical roles in many plant and animal life cycles, and support unique biodiversity. However, traditionally they have been treated as recreational areas to protect human health and safety; few people know that beaches play a key role in coastal ecosystems. Compared to other environments, sandy beaches have been studied very little, so the research group that Danny was part of studied the nature of the California grunion on some tourist beaches where it spawns. He and his group were developing new methods to monitor and look at keystone species on sandy beaches.
Additionally, Danny volunteers at Mystic aquarium in the animal rescue center where he’s had the opportunity to deal with different species and help in their recovery. He also conducts research at UConn with Dr. Nyholm. The focus of this research is squid and their symbiotic relationship with bacteria. He is pursuing his degree because he loves the ocean and wants to be part of the genetic modification projects that are done in coral to prevent them from bleaching, keeping them healthy and protecting them from the effects of global warming. Aside from his passion for marine life, he is interested in policies that affect coastal communities due to the fact that the communities like the one he grew up in are the first areas to be severely affected by the environmental crisis we are living in. In his free time, Danny is the vice-captain of UConn taekwondo and as a fun fact, was team Colombia sub 16. He has traveled with many UConn clubs to different places to raise awareness of many social issues (mostly with UConn Outreach and Hearts Over Latin America). He is a realist and knows that small scale social work can only do so much. However, he considers himself really lucky to have had the opportunity to come to America and tries to impact at least one person with the same positivity and hardworking attitude that he tries to achieve every day.
Lauren Pawlowski is a sophomore from Shelton, CT. She is pursuing a BA in Environmental Studies and a BS in Economics as part of the UConn Honors Program. Lauren spent this past summer interning at the Fairfield Water Pollution Control Facility, where she conducted laboratory water quality analyses and learned more about wastewater treatment. At UConn, she works as an intern for the Office of Sustainability and is involved with EcoHusky, UConn Club Pole Vault, Women and Minorities in Economics, the Outing Club, and more. After attending the Alternative Spring Break to Immokalee, FL focused on migrant farmworker rights and rural poverty, she co-founded the UConn Student Farmworker Alliance to raise awareness about these issues. She also recently joined SOS Food Recovery to alleviate food waste and food insecurity and UConn’s She’s the First Chapter to raise money for women’s education. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys painting, travelling, and propagating plants. She is interested in renewable energy, sustainable business and green design as potential career paths. At COP25, she hopes to learn more about the intersections of economic development, social justice, and environmental issues, while enjoying all that Chile has to offer!
Natalie is from Cheshire, CT. She is an Environmental Sciences major with minors in Human Rights and Sustainable Food Crop Production. She will complete a Master’s in Public Policy in a fifth year as part of the UConn Fast Track Program. Natalie came to UConn to learn how to best solve social and environmental issues, which are inextricably linked. On campus, she is an officer of Revolution Against Rape, co-chair of the USG Sustainability Subcommittee, co-facilitator of a Rainbow Center discussion group, a participant in Community Outreach’s alternative breaks, and was a lead organizer of September’s climate strike. She works at UConn’s Office of Sustainability, where she focuses on outreach, environmental justice, office blogs, and more. As a BOLD scholar in UConn BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, Natalie plans to complete a summer project that will bring light to the concept of climate migration and help to create better support systems for people who have been displaced because of climate change. Natalie is also an undergraduate researcher of cross-cultural climate communication as part of UConn’s PIRE Project, which focuses on sustainable development in Ethiopia. Outside of UConn, she is a dedicated member of the CT Sierra Club Political Committee. She loves learning, climbing trees, community gardens, baking, and spending quality time with her friends. After graduation from UConn, she plans to carry the mindset of finding community-based, intersectional, and just solutions to environmental and social issues into a career in public service.
Sarah Schechter is a junior from Danbury, CT, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. She enjoys studying the effects of climate change, specifically sea level rise and coastal flooding. This past summer, Sarah was an intern with the Connecticut Sea Grant College Program, and she created a video about flood management and mitigation. This video is the first in an online series that she will continue working on throughout the rest of her time at UConn. Also, as a member of EcoHouse for two years, Sarah took part in many environmental activities around campus such as improving the Hillside Environmental Education Park, assisting at Green Game Days, and teaching students about food waste during the Earth Day Spring Fling. Sarah took part in UConn’s Sustainable Amsterdam Program in the summer of 2018, where she developed a video about foreign food sustainability practices. She also enjoys running with UConn’s running club and hiking. Sarah is excited for the opportunity to attend COP25 in Chile and looks forward to learning about aspects of climate change through an international lens.
Mara Tu is a junior Environmental Science and Urban and Community Studies student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Mara works at the Office of Sustainability as an intern and is an officer of EcoHusky and Student Farmworker Alliance where she wishes to spread her interests in conservation, communal energy, spread of ideas, social issues and climate and environmental justice. As a BOLD Scholar, Mara hopes to explore how climate change has and will affect the mental health of individuals and communities and how to work on climate issues productively. Over the summer, she interned at the C.S. Mott Foundation based in Flint, MI as their Environment Team intern where she learned about non-profit and philanthropy work and worked on research about climate migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and local clean drinking water advancements. In her future, she hopes to continue mitigative and adaptive work that addresses climate and environmental effects on people and the ecosystems around us. She enjoys being self-reflective, being with those she loves, and learning as much as possible in her free time.
Matthew Yang is a senior civil engineering from Stamford CT. At UConn he is involved with UConn’s Seismic Design Team, and SOS Food recovery program where he helps deliver excess food to a local soup kitchen. He is also the treasurer of the UConn Green Building Council where he has contributed to projects including a sustainability plan for a local commercially licensed kitchen. During the Summer of 2018 he conducted research through an REU at UConn on emerging wind energy technology. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and creating sustainable solutions that work in today’s market economy. Matt is passionate about the problem of food waste and is currently pursuing a startup idea focused around mitigating food waste. In his free time he loves to cook, play tennis, basketball and rock climb with his friends. He is excited to go to Chile and learn how other countries and leaders are planning to address environmental issues like food waste and carbon neutrality. He’s also extremely excited to learn more about the local culture and cuisine!
Harry Zehner is a Junior political science major with a minor in environmental policy and economics. At UConn, he works at the Office of Sustainability and as the Opinion Editor at the Daily Campus, where he writes weekly on social, environmental and economic issues. He helped organize the climate strike and the following actions as a member of UConn Friday’s for Future. Off campus, Harry has interned for the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Sustainable CT and served as the lead policy advisor for Seth Poole’s New Haven mayoral campaign. In the future, Harry hopes to work on radical local campaigns promoting environmental justice through affordable housing, food security, transit equity and energy democracy. In his free time, Harry enjoys reading, coping with eco-anxiety and traveling with friends.
Luke Anderson is a junior from Tolland, CT. He is pursuing a dual degree in Anthropology and Nutritional Sciences at UConn, with a minor in Mathematics. He currently works in the Honors Program as a Guide for Peer Success (GPS), a peer advisor for fellow Honors students to help them to navigate their college experience, as well as in the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP) as a research assistant helping to research the influence of various social factors on people's health behaviors. Luke is passionate about helping others through service and promoting health in a culturally sensitive manner. He's involved in a variety of political and cultural organizations around campus and is on the founding organizing committee for UConn's first student-run Global Health Symposium. In the long-term, he hopes to incorporate his love of travel and food into service in a nutrition and agriculture program in the Peace Corps, then pursue a higher graduate degree. He's always down for a good book or music recommendation and really loves a good hike with his dogs.
Kayleigh Granville is a senior pursing a BS in Environmental Science with a concentration in Global Change. At UConn, she is a University Scholar and the president of Wildlife Society. She is also an undergraduate researcher in the Helton lab, where she is working on an honors thesis studying the effects of sea level rise on nitrous oxide emissions from coastal wetlands. In her spare time, Kayleigh enjoys hiking, running, and reading. After graduation, she plans to earn an MS in Environmental Science. Kayleigh aspires to use research as a tool to find solutions to the complex environmental problems facing our generation, including climate change, sea level rise, and carbon emissions, and is excited to see how these issues are discussed at COP24!
Frank Griggs is a doctoral student in the Political Science department at the University of Connecticut. Broadly, his research focuses on how politics influence, and are influenced by, climate change. His dissertation examines the relationship between persons displaced by climate extremes (e.g. natural disasters such as floods and storms) and the incidence of armed conflict and protests. In addition, Frank has had the opportunity to teach a Global Environmental Politics course on three occasions. He respectively earned BA and MA degrees of Political Science at University of California, Berkeley, and California State University, Northridge. His professional experience before coming to UConn includes employment as a social worker within California’s Regional Center system for developmentally disabled persons, as well as service and activism as an elected officer of a labor union chapter.
Emily Kaufman is a sophomore double majoring in Environmental Studies and Sociology with a minor in Geographic Information Systems. This summer she traveled to Ecuador where she interned with the Social Entrepreneurship Corps. At UConn, she is currently the co-chair of the Sustainability Subcommittee under Undergraduate Student Government, a student representative for the University's Environmental Policy Advisory Council, and a member of the General Education Environmental Literacy Task Force. Emily has a passion for environmental justice education and advocacy. She is particularly interested in the intersections between social issues and climate change and redefining the unproductive and unequal system through collaborative education. Emily is a member of UConn’s club running team and an on-campus a capella group. She loves to travel, especially when it means trying new and exotic food and spending time outdoors. She is excited for the opportunity to go to Poland and attend such an important conference!
Kat Konon is a junior studying Chemical Engineering. Over the summer she worked on developing a way to release antibiotics from coatings on medical devices in order to help prevent infection. On campus, she is a member of EcoHusky and an engineering tutor. Kat hopes to learn more about the political and social aspects of climate change at the conference, and she’s excited to be around so many people from around the world that care about the environment. She loves Horsebarn Hill, intramural sports, crispy m&m’s, and watching The Office.
Risa Lewis is a junior from Avon, CT majoring in Applied and Resource Economics with a concentration in Environmental Policy and Economics and minoring in English. She spent the summer working at the Cornell Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, learning more about the intersection of research in environmental economics and behavioral economics. Her study abroad experience last fall focusing on Sustainable Food and Environmental Systems in Florence, Italy solidified her interest in tackling environmental issues, particularly climate change. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Resource Economics and is interested in the cutting edge economic and environmental policy research being done at organizations such as Resources For the Future. At UConn, Risa loves to exercise any way she can—as President of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, Social Media Coordinator of the Swing and Blues Club, and a bouldering enthusiast. Her favorite place at UConn is Horsebarn Hill at sunrise.
Sahil Laul is a senior studying Molecular & Cell Biology and Global Health with minors in Spanish and Anthropology. As a Connecticut native with a strong passion for public health and health equity, he has been conducting research at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center on a variety of different topics including sickle cell disease, prescription errors, health care access, and nutrition and food insecurity. Upon graduation, Sahil hopes to study the practices and policies of key global health actors with the ultimate goal of becoming a practitioner of globalized medicine and an advocate of healthcare as a fundamental human right through a master’s in global health and medical degree program. After starting UConn’s Annual Global Health Symposium with a group of students last year, he will be moderating several panels at this year’s symposium and hopes to integrate what he learns at COP24 with discussions of the impact of climate change on health. Sahil also enjoys studying languages and cultures and will be traveling to Spain during the winter of 2018 to film a documentary on the various implications of language in the context of the Catalan independence movement through UConn’s IDEA Grant. In his spare time he enjoys DJ-ing at WHUS Radio, hiking, traveling, and dancing.
Sophie MacDonald is a junior from Bantam, CT majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in philosophy and math. She plans to pursue an M.S. in Sustainable Engineering, and she aspires to be a practicing engineer in the renewable energy sector. Freshman year, she conducted research under Dr. Leslie Shor in her engineered microhabitats laboratory, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. This semester, she is conducting research more directly associated with her career goals under Dr. Alexander Agrios, whose research focuses on perovskites, the latest technology in solar power. At the end of her freshman year, Sophie was hired as an intern at the UConn Office of Environmental Policy, where she runs the website and works on various initiatives to promote sustainability on campus. She is also a co-lead for the Uganda Project for the University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), as well as the founder of a collaboration project between EWB-UConn and the Hartford Professional Chapter of EWB. Within this organization, Sophie works to help the environment as well as the community of people who depend on its protection. When the dust settles every so often, Sophie loves to do anything and everything outdoors, from hiking to ice climbing to birding.
Leann is a senior majoring in political science and history and is enrolled in the honors program. She was born and raised in Manchester, CT. She is a member of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Leadership Board, and a past executive member of the UConn chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) . She has served as a research assistant under faculty projects facilitated by Dr. Evelyn Simien, Dr. Jeremy Pressman, and Dr. Fiona Vernal. She has also participated in internships in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Children’s Law Center, and Right2Know, a political rights organization as apart of her study abroad trip to Capetown, South Africa. This past summer she conducted research under the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Ralph Bunche Summer Institute at Duke University and is currently writing here thesis project regarding West Indian Immigrant incorporation in Hartford, CT funded through the UConn IDEA Grant Program. Leann is interested in the intersectionality of poverty, racial issues, human rights, and the environment. She hopes to learn how environmental policy is both debated and enforced at the international level and wants to incorporate lessons into her career goals of attaining a PhD in political science.
Delaney Meyer is a junior from Bedford, Massachusetts. She is majoring in Civil Engineering with a minor in Construction Engineering and Management. Around campus, she is an employee for the Engineering Tutoring Center, the Vice President of the Tap Team and a member of the UConn Dance Company. Since being on campus, Delaney's interest in environmental causes has grown exponentially. She was a member of EcoHouse for two years and worked on several small scale projects around campus, including improving the Hillside Environmental Education Park. She also took part in an alternative break focused on environmental conservation in Utah. Delaney is excited to absorb as much information from COP as possible and wants to gain a greater understanding of the political actions being taken to mitigate climate change in other countries.
Adrienne Nguyen is a junior from Avon, CT majoring Pathobiology and Molecular and Cell Biology (with a minor in Human Rights). She supports the One Health approach to health care and believes the environment plays a crucial but often under-looked role in human health. Over the summer she was one of the El Instituto Fellows working as a vitals lead for UConn Health’s Migrant Farmworker Clinics providing health care access to an under-served population. Her career goal is to bring more awareness and work on the intersection of medicine and human rights. On campus, she is a member of the Honors GPS team, on Student Health Services’ support staff, and one of the Chief RAs for CCMC’s Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP). In her free time, she enjoys taking pictures of sunsets, recreational swimming, and playing with her cat, Cupcake.
Nikki Pirtel is a senior Environmental Science major with a concentration in Global Change. She is President of Service for EcoHusky and treasurer of the Forestry and Wildlife Club. After graduation, She plans on attending graduate school for a masters degree in some kind of forest ecology. The inspiration for going to grad school came from doing field work in Dr. Bagchi's lab in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department for the past three summers, studying how forest fragmentation/human disturbance impacts biodiversity of natural ecosystems, which is the primary focus of her Honor's thesis. As an Environmental Science major, Nikki learns about climate change in almost all of her classes, but never much about the policy aspect of the science. With this trip, she hopes to gain more knowledge of environmental law and international collaboration on such a vital issue by members of countries having vastly different socioeconomic statuses. In the future, she will use the knowledge she gains to help bridge the communication gap between scientists and the general population, as she believes that public outreach and education is an important tool to advocate for more effective environmental protection policies.
Charlotte Rhodes is a junior from Manchester, CT. She is majoring in Environmental Studies with a double minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). On campus, she is an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, a member of EcoHusky, and Vice President of Operations of Alpha Epsilon Phi. She spent this past summer working with the U.S. Forest Service in Vallejo, California where her work focused on Sustainable Operations, Climate Change, and Wildlife Ecology. Charlotte is particularly interested in how climate change will affect the relationship between the environment and human health, and after graduation hopes to pursue a graduate degree in entomology and vector borne diseases.
Jonathan Ursillo is a junior double major in Environmental Sciences and Economics from Rehoboth, MA. He is interested in the intersection of business and the environment, particularly in the assessment of the total cost of economic behavior. At UConn, Jonathan is a Sustainability Intern at the OEP, focusing primarily on recycling, and is a member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors, skiing, and staying active. Jonathan enjoys travelling and experiencing new cultures, so he is looking forward to visiting Poland and learning more about climate change from a global perspective.
Jessica Weaver is a senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Human Rights and Entrepreneurship. She is also on a fast-track to get her Master's in Public Policy. At UConn, Jessica serves as President of the Political Science Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Partners in Health Engage. She is an active member of the CLAS Student Leadership Board and an avid dancer. Jessica looks forward to attending COP to learn more about not only what state actors can do about climate change, but non-state actors as well. She is particularly interested in the intersection of Human Rights and Business, and wants to find innovative ways for the private sector to contribute to climate change solutions. She ultimately hopes to work for the UN Women as an advocate for gender equality in the areas of economic justice, climate justice, and political representation.
Caroline Anastasia is a junior from Hampton, NH. She is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Mathematics, and one day hopes to be a research scientist. She works as an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, where she is a lead intern for the annual EcoMadness competition and Football Green Game Day. Caroline also works as an undergraduate researcher in the Sotzing group studying conductive polymers. When she is not at work, she captains the UConn Women's Ultimate Frisbee team, and is the president of the Undergraduate Society of Plastics Engineers. She also enjoys ice cream, skiing, and recycling.
Adrianna Antigiovanni is a senior Environmental Studies major. At UConn, Adrianna is Co-President of the EcoHusky student group and a sustainability intern at the Office of Environmental Policy. She is also a dedicated member of the club running team, RunUC, as well as a peer educator for UConn's Health Education Office. She has spent several of the past summers with her hands in the dirt as part of the farm crew at SubEdge Farm in Farmington, Connecticut, where she has worked hard to grow and take care of the wide variety of vegetables throughout the season. After graduation, Adrianna hopes to join FoodCorps where she will have an impact on implementing healthy food in under-served schools and provide nutrition education to students to combat diet-related diseases. Additionally, she looks forward to pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Policy. Her passions lie within Environmental Justice, EcoFeminism, and living a vegan lifestyle. She also loves to play her bassoon and violin when she gets the chance.
Colby Buehler is a senior studying Chemical Engineering with an environmental perspective. As a member of Dr. Wagstrom's Computational Atmospheric Chemistry and Exposure Lab he developed an interest in air pollution and climate change. Currently he is working towards his Honors Thesis on pesticide drift between conventional and organic farmland. His career goal is to be a professor of environmental engineering to further understand the chemistry of atmospheric pollution. Outside of the classroom he is involved with EcoHusky, is the proud president of Honors Council, and is a member of the UConn Trombone Choir.
Colleen Dollard is a double major in Geography and Maritime Studies with a focus on environmental economics and policy at the UConn Avery Point Campus. She grew up on Long Island Sound, which was the catalyst for her interest in the coastal environment. Colleen’s studies at UConn have focused primarily on the coastal environment, environmental protection, and the relationship between humans and the environment. She interned with the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) for over a year and has also worked with DEEP. After graduation, she hopes to work in either the environmental policy or education fields. Outside of her studies, Colleen enjoys hiking, cooking, and being out on or in the water.
Mary is a senior Natural Resources and the Environment major with a concentration in Water Resources and Climate. She is particularly interested in wetland systems and is working on an honors thesis focusing on carbon gas flux in wetlands in connection to water quality and plant species. Climate change and its effects on human lives and natural systems has been a major component of her studies at UConn. Spreading her current knowledge and gaining new knowledge on these subjects excites her, and she hopes to continue these passions in her future career. She loves to dance and is the Vice President of the UConn Tap Team. Mary’s interest in natural systems and humans’ role in climate started at a young age, when she could always be found either outside, dancing, or obsessively watching Animal Planet. She hopes to use all of her experiences at UConn to help create a more balanced and sustainable world.
Wawa Gatheru is a sophomore pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Connecticut, with a minor in Environmental Economics and Policy. At UConn, she currently interns at the Office of Environmental Policy and serves as the Student Services Chairwoman of the Undergraduate Student Government. In addition, she serves as an FYE Mentor and volunteer for SOS Food Recovery and Cross Cultural Connections. She is particularly interested in the intersection of environmental activism and food sovereignty, previously serving as a student coordinator in the Husky Nutrition Program and currently acting as a research assistant in the Nutrition Department. Her long-term goals include becoming an Environmental Foreign Service officer for USAID, a goal that was solidified during her year-long fellowship with the U.S. State Department in Thailand. In obtaining this goal, she also hopes to take part in the redefinition of culturally-competent, sustainable environmental development.
Ben Hawkins is a senior double majoring in History and Human Rights. He is a former President of Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity and former handler of Jonathan XIV. Currently, he is a USG Senator representing commuter undergraduates. Ben loves to travel and spent 4 months hiking in New Zealand while fundraising for Common Ground, a New Haven charter school focused on teaching students about the environment. As an aspiring lawyer and Air Force officer, he is excited to learn more about international environmental law while at COP23!
Weston Henry is a junior in the honors program pursuing a dual degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Landscape Architecture. Originally from Mansfield, Connecticut, he spent most of last summer in the hills of western Connecticut, studying a state-endangered butterfly and living in a cabin on stilts over the Housatonic River. After school, he plans on working field jobs in ecology in exotic locales, travelling extensively, and working in an ecological design firm, preferably somewhere in California. He loves art and design, being in nature, and most of all having fun.
Rebecca Kaufman is double majoring in political science and human rights and minoring in public policy. She aspires one day to lead legal efforts on behalf of the victims of environmental injustice. An avid runner, Rebecca has worked as Program Design Fellow for Net Impact in Oakland, CA, interned for U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, worked with local leaders in rural Guatemala through the Social Entrepreneurship Corps, and studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa where she interned at the Economic Justice Network. As a spring 2016 IDEA Grant recipient, Rebecca used her funding to analyze the policy outcomes and increased female empowerment promulgated by women in local government in the Asia-Pacific region. In spring 2017, she was awarded the Augusta H. Gerberich Scholarship, which is given annually to a junior or senior majoring in political science whose special field of interest is international relations. She is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received an Alan R. Bennett Research Assistantship in fall 2014. In the spring of 2016, Rebecca and three other students co-founded the Student Coalition for Social Justice, which conducts sustained, intersectional social justice campaigns in order to incite positive social change on the UConn campus and beyond.
Austin Langer is a junior majoring in Finance and Economics. Following his politics of oil course, he has developed a strong interest in climate change and climate policy. Austin has interned with U.S. Congressman Jim Himes and U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy, working on issues involving climate change for both. At UConn, Austin has served as a senator for the Undergraduate Student Government, and is currently an RA for first-year honors students. Austin loves to travel and is excited to visit Germany for the first time.
Jillianne Lyon is a senior pursuing a double major in Human Rights and Political Science (with a minor in French). She lived in EcoHouse her freshman year, where she discovered a passion for environmental conservation sustainable agriculture. Throughout her career at UConn, Jillianne has interned with a refugee resettlement agency in New Haven managing a food bank and community garden. She additionally interned at the Connecticut General Assembly where she focused on anti-discrimination and environmental protection legislation. This past summer, Jillianne was a Human Rights Institute Fellow and worked at the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, where she co-published an article outlining the effects of climate change on marginalized communities in the US. Jillianne hopes to pursue a career in international human rights, focusing on the intersectionality between gender and climate change. She is thrilled to be representing UConn at COP23 this year!
Katie Mae Main is a senior pursuing a BSE in Environmental Engineering. She is an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, where her work focuses on graphic design, UConn's Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Green Game Days, and running the OEP website. She is also the Treasurer for both EcoHusky and ECOalition, and does undergraduate research on catalyses for renewable energy processes with Dr. Alexander Agrios. Katie traveled to Italy in the summer of 2016 to study the Roman Aqueduct Systems, and is now even more eager to learn about resource availability on a global scale, especially considering the complications that come with climate change. Her dream job is to work on green building and low impact development design for residential homes. Her favorite activities include hiking, cooking and eating, and spending time with her dog, Milo.
Taylor is a senior, Environmental Studies, and Political Science double major at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. She is very passionate about black liberation and environmental justice, so those areas are where she has focused her studies. In the summer of 2017, she interned at CIRCA (The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation) as a program assistant, and that summer, she was also involved with Hartford’s Climate Stewardship Initiative as a student intern. She conducts climate change research with her Professor Anji Seth as an independent study – with a focus on the impacts of climate change on the Northeast, United States. She is currently the Sustainability Sub-Committee Chair for Undergraduate Student Government here at UConn. Her favorite past time is spending time with her family and friends and playing volleyball!
Lindsay Tenenbaum is a senior, pursuing a dual degree in International Business Management and Natural Resources. She spent last semester studying abroad in Lund, Sweden where she took courses focusing on global sustainability. She hopes to eventually work as a project manager or a consultant, helping to implement environmentally conscious practices within the corporate sector. Lindsay is also very passionate about community service. She is a director for two Special Olympics events on campus, has been on multiple alternative breaks, and is a Morale Captain this year for HuskyTHON. She is very excited about this opportunity to attend such an important international conference!
Christen Bellucci is a junior majoring in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Human Health. She grew up on Long Island, New York, where she first developed a strong interest in the sciences. At UConn, Christen is Co-President of the EcoHusky student group and a sustainability intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, where her roles include organizing the annual Earth Day Spring Fling event and editing the OEP blogs and newsletters. Christen aspires to be a middle or high school science educator, and hopes to extend her experiences at UConn and COP22 to her future students.
Ben Breslau is a junior, pursuing a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Wildlife Conservation. He is an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, where he works as the lead intern on the annual EcoMadness competition and the 2016 Environmental Leadership Awards Ceremony. He also serves as Vice President of ECOalition, and actively participates in organizations such as EcoHusky, the UConn Scouting Association, and Maimonides. Ben greatly enjoys the outdoors, and loves to go biking and camping whenever possible.
Kristin Burnham is pursuing a B.S. in Pathobiology and B.S. Molecular and Cell Biology. In 2015 she graduated from The Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School. Currently, she co-leads an incredible team of undergraduate engineers from the UCONN chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The undergraduate engineers are working with professors from Ethiopia, UCONN faculty and Professional Engineers to develop a sustainable irrigation system for small rural farming community in Woreta Zuria, Ethiopia. Kristin’s work on this project sparked her interest in the impact climate change has on food security and health. Her other passions include running during thunderstorms, wilderness medicine and infectious diseases.
Hannah Casey is a junior at UConn and is from Higganum, CT. She is currently an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy where she works on getting grants for the Campus Sustainability Fund, assists with Green Game Day, and helped with planning the COP22 trip. She has previously interned at Dominion Power Station Environmental Laboratory and will be living in Clarksburg, West Virginia this upcoming summer to intern at Dominion Hope Gas. Hannah is also vice-president of EcoHusky and has always had an interest in the environment. She wants to extend that interest to her career, so she is currently pursuing her B.A. in Environmental Studies while simultaneously working on her master’s degree in Public Policy. She wants to create environmental policies and eventually go into Environmental Law. Aside from the environment, Hannah enjoys kayaking, hiking, painting, and her cat Chester. This will be Hannah’s first time travelling outside of the United States and she is extremely excited to represent UConn at COP22!
Stephanie is a Senior majoring in Environmental Engineering. She works on campus as an engineering tutor, has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant, and captains the UConn Women's Ultimate Frisbee Team. Stephanie spent her Sophomore summer researching trace metal removal capacity of a constructed stormwater treatment wetland system. She currently works as a water resource design engineering intern at a Civil/Environmental Engineering firm. She chose the engineering track, in particular, because she wants to stress the application of these engineering principles in order to improve and preserve environmental quality. As an Environmental Engineer, she hopes to apply the knowledge she gains at the conference by incorporating sustainability in her profession through every facet of design.
Eddie McInerney is currently a junior pursuing a degree in Political Science at the University of Connecticut, with a minor in Environmental Studies. Last spring, he studied the equity implications of national plans for carbon emissions reductions, and analyzed submissions to COP21 by different members of the G20, which includes some of the most economically powerful countries in the world. He is also a member of EcoHusky on campus, and has had a general interest in the implications of global climate change on international discourse from a young age (mostly due to a dad and sister who couldn't stop talking about it).
Wyatt Million’s friend once said, "I wished I loved something as much as Wyatt loves plants." Even though Wyatt planned to go to graduate school for marine biology and not botany, he is proud to be seen in this way. His love for all things natural started during his childhood and has only grown throughout the years. Wyatt became a biological science major so he could conserve the things that are such an important part of his life. While he still has far to go, he believes that he is on the right path to achieve this goal. Now as a senior, Wyatt is working on his Honors Thesis dealing with symbiotic green algae under the advisement of Dr. Louise Lewis. In addition to academics, he is a member of the Division I cross country and track and field team here at UConn as well as a representative in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In the off season, he hits the Northeast's raging rivers with his fellow boaters in UConn Whitewater Kayaking Club. He has plans to enter graduate school to earn a PhD in marine science, a field where understanding the effects of a warming climate is hot topic, pun intended.
Genevieve Nuttall is studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology while working on a combined Master's degree in Conservation Biology and Biodiversity. She plans on working in avian conservation, but is interested in all environmental fields! She is looking forward to the chance to learn more about climate change in Morocco which is a country she has always wanted to visit.
Usra Qureshi is currently a sophomore student double majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Human Rights. She is a full time activist, spending her time assisting displaced and resettled refugees, as well as engaging in meaningful dialogue on international social and political issues with the intention of invoking change. Her interests in both the sciences and humanities spearhead her desire to practice medicine in underrepresented and impoverished settings. With this career goal in mind, she makes an effort to diversify her frame of thinking through programs and activities inclusive of the world perspective. In her free time, Usra enjoys photography/videography as well as other forms of art, often collaborating with her friends on projects meant to "capture the moment".
Klara Reisch is a molecular and cell biology major and chemistry minor, and is a Senior Resident Assistant in the NextGen Hall for EcoHouse. She is in the honors program and a STEM Scholar. During her freshman year, she received the Holster Grant to do research over the summer in the MCB department doing wet lab research on microbes. Klara is the president and founder of a student-lead organization on campus called Honors in STEM and am a team leader for an alternative break on campus. She was born in Germany and enjoy traveling and learning new languages and cultures.
Brooke Siegel is a junior undergraduate student studying Environmental Studies and Urban and Community Studies. She has a career goal of working in the field of sustainability with an eye towards urban planning and environmental design. Brooke is the President of Pencils of Promise, a club on campus that raises money to build schools in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos. In addition, she is a Solar Ambassador Intern in which she participates in crowd funding and community outreach programs to educate the Mansfield community on solar energy. The goal of her fundraising is to bring a nonprofit in Windham, CT solar power by the Summer of 2017. Brooke hopes that after COP22 UConn will take a big step towards lessening their carbon footprint.
Margaux Verlaque-Amara is an honors Molecular & Cell Biology major and a Chemistry minor. She is deeply passionate about health equity, particularly interested in the link between an individual's environment and their health. She hopes to make strides in areas such as environmental racism and environmental justice in her future. In her free time loves to dance, paint, and play with her cat, Oscar.
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.