California Leadership Stories

Like time and money, water in the West is often characterized by too much demand chasing too little supply. In response to such scarcity, water conservation seems the obvious, environmentally-friendly strategy to achieve the same outcome-a green lawn, food and fiber, or a hot shower-while using less water. Give water users the means to use less, and with any luck, they actually will. But such freedom can also inadvertently lead to more water use, whether that's via lush landscaping, more crops on marginal lands, or longer showers. How do we balance supply with demand to solve this problem?Read more >
Universities, cities, and now even some countries are starting to phase out single-use plastics, but what will they switch to? Tons of disposable foodware, including products made from agricultural waste and labeled compostable, are used and discarded every day. Some of the products contain chemicals that are associated with adverse health effects such as hormone disruption, increased cholesterol levels, and increased risk of cancer. Ideally, we should phase out single-use plastics and encourage the development of alternatives that are manufactured with and contain inherently safer chemicals. How do we incentivize a transition to the best reusable products?Read more >
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) won a prestigious national award March 5 for its influential role in the nation’s fight against climate change, receiving recognition for the Department’s outreach on climate resilience and for taking a comprehensive approach that aligns state and local water...Read more >
Some climate-related projects start local and stay local – but in other cases, there may be an opportunity to expand the initiative to broader scales. Over the course of just four years, Fellow Amber Pairis brought together more than 280 organizations, agencies, and groups of people keen to address climate change adaptation.Read more >
For the Yurok tribe, fishing isn’t a recreational weekend activity to be paired with a cold beer. It’s a way of subsistence, a way of life. Fellow Keith Parker’s groundbreaking biology research regarding a new subspecies of Pacific lamprey, recently published in the science journal Molecular Ecology, may be the key to saving his tribe’s way of life.Read more >
Fellow Colleen Callahan is deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation , which conducts research and advises civic partners on the design and implementation of policies, plans and programs with a focus on advancing environmental sustainability. Part of Callahan’s job is to make sure...Read more >
As the policy manager for autonomous vehicle policy at AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah , Fellow Xantha Bruso is developing and implementing AAA’s AV policy strategy to advance AV safety while enabling innovation. She also supports strategic initiatives to accelerate AV deployment and...Read more >
How can we how can we learn from communities to understand risk and support resilience planning? Kristen Goodrich brings a social ecological approach to characterizing natural hazards when developing flood modeling by studying the human experience with and response to flooding. Before starting her...Read more >
“Work with your mind, not with your hands.” Recent graduate Daisy Benitez grew up hearing these words so often it became her mantra. In fact, her life was shaped by this saying and by the lives of its authors: her parents. After earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering (’17), she will continue her work in sustainability through the Master in Green Technologies program, with her graduate studies funded by the National GEM Consortium Engineering Fellowship, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Fellowship, and the Switzer Environmental Fellowship.Read more >
“Climate change will increase the global burden of infectious diseases such as malaria, Zika and Lyme disease,” says 2017 Fellow Dev Vashishtha. “We are also seeing changes in pollen patterns and increases in asthma diagnoses. We know that the poor and people of color will be the hardest hit. My interest in climate change is closely tied to my interest in public health and disease prevention.”Read more >

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