Meet the Laos Energy Modeling and Policy Analysis (Undergraduate!) Team:
The focus of this inter-disciplinary and inter-university research group is to develop sustainable energy, water, and land-use scenarios for Laos, and to work with local stake-holders on the costs and benefits for communities, the nation, and the regional commerce in energy, water, food, timber and other commodities.
Bio: Aaditee is a fourth-year at UC Berkeley studying political science and public policy with a concentration in energy, development, and international relations. Aaditeeis originally from Tucson, Arizona, where she began to develop an interest in international environmental affairs. At UC Berkeley, Aaditeeis working on projects in the political economy of Chinese development finance, rural electrification, and collective action. Aaditeehas become especially interested in how the rise of renewable technology is influencing energy diplomacy around the world. She hopes to pursue a career in academia and public policy and work on governance tools to build the bargaining capacity of LDCs against MNCs, foreign state-owned enterprises, etc. on the subject of FDI and other types of investment. She sees SWITCH-Laos as having the potential to serve as a critical tool in assisting the increase of the Lao people’s bargaining power over FDI in the energy sector and thus their autonomy in determining their own economic development. Outside school, Aaditee’s interests include dance, food journalism, and cooking.
Bio: Alex Lathem is a third-year undergraduate at Yale University. He is a physics major with several years of experience using programming languages, including Python SQL, C, and Bash, to analyze scientific data. Previous research projects Alex has worked on include astrometry of near-Earth asteroids and the creation of a Hubble curve through the analysis of Type Ia supernovae. Alex spent the summer of 2019 working on the SWITCH model for China, and is very excited to apply the skills he learned there to a version for Laos. Outside of research, Alex is also interested in music, video game design, linguistics, and history.
Bio: Ashley is a second-year undergraduate studying environmental science with an emphasis in global politics. She moved to New Mexico, where she developed an interest in environmental affairs. At UC Berkeley, she is involved in a pre-law association that helped her explore her interest in law and how she may integrate that into environmentalism. Off campus, she is working on a sex education reform project in Singapore with the Ministry of Education. She is constantly exploring the intersection between policy, education, and the environment. She hopes to return home to Singapore and pursue a career in international environmental policy or law within Southeast Asia. Ashley chose to work on SWITCH-Laos not only because greening ASEAN’s economic development is essential to tackling climate change, but also because she is familiar with the demographic. She has done research in regards to both urban and rural agriculture in Asia and the US, and led research for environmental management in business operations. Outside of school, her interests include climbing, hiking, piano, and camper vans.
Bio: Rachel is a second-year Environmental Science and Data Science major. A Singapore-native, Rachel describes that SWITCH-Laos extremely important to her because it is an important step towards the energy security of Southeast Asia. She believes that the sustainable electrification of Southeast Asia is key to regional grid stability and energy trade. She is pursuing SWITCH-Laos as critical in leading the way towards sustainable electrification. Rachel is interested in the intersectionality between climate change and community, exploring how community based issues caused by climate change can be alleviated through data. Furthermore, Rachel is currently concerned about equal access to education and volunteers weekly as a mentor to elementary school students. In the future, she hopes to return to Singapore and guide environmental change through creating an ecosystem of sustainable communities and businesses. Her hobbies include dance, rock climbing and water sports.
Hilary received her B.A. in Government and Biological Sciences, with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the latter, from Cornell University, where she graduated in 2015. At ERG, Hilary is interested in exploring the science-law nexus and the factors – political, economic, and social – that inform the translation of science into legislation. Her academic interests additionally include topics in sustainable development, climate change education, restoration ecology, water and energy efficiency, and environmental justice. Hilary was previously involved in researching energy and wildlife issues as an intern with the NRDC’s Northern Rockies office, and in the year before coming to ERG, she spent some time pursuing another passion, working in Malawi on a death penalty sentence rehearing project. Hilary is a Gates Foundation Millennium Fellow.
Serena is an Energy Engineering major at UC Berkeley, where she is engaged in number of activities, including:
Working at the Student Environmental Resource Center under the Zero Waste Research Center to help food vendors achieve zero waste goals, creating a culture of zero waste within the student body through education, and conducting research on compostable plastics recycling.
During the Spring 2018 semester Serena is leading a group of 9 students in working with the local nonprofit, Grid Alternatives, to install solar panels on low income family homes in Salinas, California during spring break. Her responsibilities include co-facilitating a class about energy access, equity, energy policy, and solar energy technology in California as well as coordinating housing, fundraising, and transportation to the location.
In RAEL Serena is focusing on the design, operation, power systems optimization, and social impacts of the clean energy mini-grid powering the Human Needs Project in Kibera, Kenya.”
RAEL has partnered with both the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and a number of other groups worldwide that are engaging the Vatican and interested partners to utilize the dialog around The Encyclical to promote equity, sustainable development and climate protection.
Events in this initiative include:
RAEL and Vatican publications such as:
November 2, 2016 roundtable:
Actualizing the Vision of Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home
Kammen, D. M., Alstone, P. and Gershenson, D. (2014) “Energy for sustainable and equitable development,” Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Extra Series 41, Vatican City 2014 Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Acta 20, Vatican City 2014
Climate Change, Consumerism, and the Pope
Brooke’s undergraduate career was profiled in the CNR Newsletter.
Isa Ferrall is a MS/Ph.D. student in the Energy and Resources Group and Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. She is interested in the impact of renewable energy on rural electrification, global development, and the domestic energy sector. Previously, Isa gained experience on both the technical and applied sides of renewable energy. She researched innovative energy materials at Duke University as a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholar and at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as a Department of Energy Intern. She also has analyzed system data for Off-Grid Electric, a solar home system company operating in east Africa. Isa graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University in 2015 with distinction in Mechanical Engineering and a Certificate in Energy and the Environment.
Jessica Reilly who is currently supported by a Fulbright Fellowship to study coastal climate change in Mexico, has now also been awarded the Institute of Current World Affairs Fellowship. Over the next two years, Jessica and her partner Josh Moman will sail the Pacific coast of Central America, cross through the Panama canal, and move into the Caribbean to explore the region by way of the ocean, looking at climate change. She will use her mapping experience to gather data and build maps showing vulnerability to sea level rise for each country. By sustainably harnessing wind and sun to travel, Jessica hopes to access remote locations, share the ocean-bound experience of local communities, and listen to and document stories of climate adaptation at the shores of Latin America and the Caribbean with words, images, and video.
Nkiruka Avila is a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated with Summa cum Laude honors in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various sectors of the energy industry, from engineering design and production to end-use distribution and marketing. Her current research interests include renewable energy integration, sustainable energy development and rural electrification.
For a video summarizing the program, click here.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt across Africa, leading to greater natural resource scarcity, which has contributed to violent conflict in Darfur (Sudan), Mali, and Somalia, among others. This trend is likely to continue, as Africa is projected to be among geographies most severely impacted by climate change. Though the pathway from climate change to greater natural resource scarcity to violence is not a direct one, the risks of conflict will increase as livelihoods are threatened due to greater scarcity of food, water or arable land. With lower government capacities and limited funding to adapt to climate change impacts, and a relatively weak conflict prevention/resolution architecture in place, climate change is likely to have an increasingly important impact on future conflicts in Africa.
This assessment necessitates new policy planning and development thinking. Despite the threats, the broader global interest in climate change also presents significant opportunities to mobilize new interest and momentum for promoting green development in Africa. This can contribute to an effective conflict prevention strategy, and can also drive increased investment and more diversified economies, improved governance and development outcomes, and greater political stability. This project aims to build the theoretical and practical case for a new model for green development, which can provide both political and economic returns, while delivering both climate sensitive and conflict sensitive development.
Our 3–5 year goal is to seed and support a successful “green” pilot in a still to be selected geography in Africa. A successful pilot will require political buy-in and local political champions, as well as new external investment to support green development projects. This can serve as a model that helps demonstrate the political and economic potential of a green approach, the economic potential of a green framework to external investors, as well as effective conflict prevention. It is our hope that the model, once proven, will be scalable in other geographies.
Rob is interested in sustainability, resource use, and environmental change in the developing world. He explores these issues principally, though not exclusively, in the context of energy. He became interested in the intersection of energy, society, and environment while working as a teacher in the US Peace Corps in a remote community in northwestern Kenya. He uses an interdisciplinary approach that places equal emphasis on qualitative and quantitative methods across a range of scales, from local to regional and global. Follow this link for more information about his past and current research.