Then: Junior Fellow, Energy and Climate Program (2012-2013)
Now: Managing Director, The Arctic Institute, and Gates Cambridge Scholar
As a junior fellow in the Energy and Climate Program, I had the incredible opportunity to work under and be mentored by Shin-Pei Tsay, then director of the Cities and Transportation initiative. Under her leadership, I researched and wrote about climate change mitigation policies in cities from a global perspective. My primary focus was on urban mobility policies and demand-side mitigation strategies, with additional research on smart grid systems and coastal adaptation. During my time at Carnegie, I co-authored two articles, “A New Focus for U.S.-China Cooperation: Low-Carbon Cities” and “Protecting Coastal Cities From Rising Seas,” as well as a major policy report, “Rethinking Urban Mobility: Sustainable Policies for the Century of the City.”
Upon finishing my junior fellowship, I moved to Canada and began my journey into the world of Arctic policy—moving my research from the most densely populated geographies of the world to the most sparsely populated. Under a Fulbright award, I completed a Masters in International Affairs at Carleton University and a research assistantship with the Borders in Globalization network. During my time in Canada, I began writing for the then web-based forum the Arctic Institute. Working with a team of young scholars in Europe and North America over the past three years, we have incorporated the Arctic Institute as a tax-exempt nonprofit. Today, the Institute publishes weekly, pursues circumpolar research projects, and organizes several capacity-building workshops and outreach events across the region.
In the years since, I’ve both doubled down on my Arctic studies and expanded beyond it. In 2018, I expect to finish my PhD in Geography, with a concentration in Polar Studies from the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, supported by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. And through a National Geographic Society grant, I’ve traveled across the United States and U.S. territories over the past two years researching how climate change is impacting community cohesion and local identity. After my PhD, I’ll continue this work on community climate impacts with the support of the JM Kaplan Innovation Prize, building a skills-based volunteering platform to connect communities with pro bono preservation and adaptation professionals.
As my first job out of college, Carnegie exposed me to the energy and climate policy world. It helped me develop the skills needed to research, analyze, and write on a variety of policy challenges and opportunities—skills I’ve used consistently over the past five years. But when I think back to my time at Carnegie, the most important and lasting impact it has had on me is the mentorship I received under Shin-pei. As a mentor during and after my fellowship, Shin-pei has inspired and elevated my research regardless of where I’m working—from the Arctic to American Samoa to Alabama. At Carnegie, working with Shin-pei exposed me to a creativity and originality in policy research that I’ve rarely seen thereafter. Combining her passion for design with a human-centered lens and multidisciplinary approach, Shin-pei taught me that it was not only okay to think outside-of-the-box, but that was where the best policy work existed.