Julia R. Brown Fund Supports Students To Expand Their Climate Change Research and Professional Learning Experiences

Nine students were granted scholarships from the Center’s Julia R. Brown Fund in the 2021-2022 academic year. These students were pursuing their MAS degrees in either Climate Science and Policy or Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and all were interested in climate change topics. We caught up with several of these students to hear about how they used their funds to conduct their capstone research or engage in professional development in the climate change field.

Bethany Kwoka

Bethany Kwoka, whose capstone explored the possibilities of California’s new Microgrid Incentive Program, traveled to Humboldt to attend the opening ceremony of the first-of-its-kind Redwood Coast Renewable Energy Airport Microgrid. This travel was “incredibly valuable because it allowed me to see the [microgrid] in action and speak directly with those who worked on the project.”

Sree Gopal, whose capstone involved creating a sediment budget projection to estimate beach width change at Cardiff State Beach, used her funds to travel to the UN COP26 international climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which she told us was “foundational for my understanding of the global climate action arena and how best to position my capstone project to make the most impact.”

Eliot Headley’s scholarship covered his travel to Mount Rainier to lead a climate science and communication workshop for mountain guides. Holding the event in person, he believes, allowed for a much more personal and successful workshop than would have been possible in an online-only format.  “I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Julia R. Brown fund,” said Eliot.

Claire Levesque was able to purchase an iPad to support her research into how the US can deploy greener, less carbon-intensive steel production processes to revive the domestic steel industry and reduce carbon emissions. The iPad helped Claire to co-locate all of her data and streamline the research process. “I never would have been able to research and synthesize all the data to do the project justice without it,” said Claire.

Connor Mack pursued a study on nearshore coastal habitat changes due to sea level rise. The Fund enabled him to purchase a more powerful laptop to process data and use specialized software. “The funding made my entire project possible, I would not have been able to do the programming part of my capstone on my old Macbook,” said Connor, adding “I was able to acquire the tools necessary to take meaningful steps towards a future career in science.”

Emily Saul also used her funds to purchase a laptop and software needed to conduct her research collaboration with the San Diego Foundation to evaluate equity, scaling, and funding challenges faced by local climate change organizations. The new laptop allowed her to regularly collaborate with local groups over Zoom. “Hearing directly from the organizations was extremely important for me,” she told us. “My old computer was not up for the task.”

Martin Silva

Martin Froger Silva produced a documentary film on the health impacts of the shrinking Salton Sea. With the help of the Fund, he was able to purchase specialized filming equipment, which he attributes to the professional quality of his end product. “The funding support allowed for a much neater and cinematic quality, which helps with storytelling,” he said.  “The Salton Sea is a textbook example of an environmental justice case, and I wanted to make an explainer that touched not just on that human aspect of it, but also blended science and climate change information”.

The Julia R. Brown Fund was established at the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation to support students studying climate change topics with learning experiences, enhanced capacity, and professional development that will help them succeed in their future careers. Each of the students interviewed for this piece expressed their gratitude towards Julia Brown for the opportunities her scholarships provided.

Are you a graduate or undergraduate student who could benefit from additional funds to help you conduct your research? Read more about the Julia R. Brown fund and how to apply for funding opportunities here.