2019 Fellows


Cyatharine Alias

Cyatharine Alias hails from a northwest suburb of Chicago. After graduating from Harvard College with a degree in Sociology and a teaching certificate for middle school science, she taught a diverse population of students in Silicon Valley for two years. During this time she wanted to re-envision how science education prepared young people to be active civic agents on environmental and environmental justice issues in their neighborhoods. She now attends the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program at Tufts University and is interested in learning how grassroots environmental organizations use quantitative data in addition to the rich narrative experiences of their members to make systemic change.

Foundation Sponsor: Barr Foundation

Host Organization: Neighbor to Neighbor (Boston, Massachusetts)


Aurora Aparicio

While working at a government consulting firm during her senior year of undergrad, Aurora Aparicio began to see the need for better environmental science communication especially with regard to distributional equity. This realization led her to study Behavior, Education, and Communication as a master’s student at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. She has worked in radio recently and she passes her free time searching for new music and trying to make tofu taste better.

Foundation Sponsor: Ocean Research and Conservation Association (Fort Pierce, Florida)

Host Organization: 11th Hour Project (Schmidt Family Foundation)


Faizah Barlas

Faizah Barlas is a current Master of Public Administration (MPA) student at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service specializing in public policy analysis. She has worked as a civil rights community organizer, a housing rights advocate for disabled tenants, and a court advocate for youth and adults who are justice-involved. Faizah is passionate about policy analysis and research that touches on the intersection of a number of social issues, ranging from criminal justice reform to environmental justice.

Foundation Sponsor: Island Foundation

Host Organization: New England Grassroots Environmental Fund (New Market, New Hampshire)


Molly Blondell

Molly Blondell is a master’s student studying Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. Her academic interests are largely concentrated in the politicization of natural resources and land access. Outside of her studies, she is an avid runner and a Judge for the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt.

Foundation Sponsor/Host Organization: Pisces Foundation (San Francisco, California)


Miranda Briseño

Miranda Briseño is finishing her first year in the M.A. program with the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department at Tufts University. When she graduated from George Mason University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Government she was interested in learning more about how policy-making and public processes could become more equitable. Through her coursework at Tufts, she has become interested in where social resiliency, food systems, and food justice intersect and how cities can make their food systems more equitable and resilient.

Foundation Sponsor: Barr Foundation

Host Organization: Mystic River Watershed Association (Arlington, Massachusetts)


Cara Clase, MEc

Cara Clase is a graduate student at the University of Delaware and is currently obtaining her Ph.D. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy. She has a master’s degree in economics and has a special interest in energy security in urban housing. In her free time, Cara does musical theatre and likes to paint.

Foundation Sponsor: Mertz Gilmore Foundation

Host Organization: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Cleveland, Ohio)


Jan Cordero Casillas

Jan Cordero Casillas is a first year Ph.D. Puerto Rican student in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. He is currently a graduate fellow in the Urban Resilience to Extremes (UREx) working with the Governance and Scenario Planning team. Jan is interested in designing community-based information systems to empower communities to pursue decentralized governance strategy and planning, in order to help them increase community resilience.

Foundation Sponsor: New York Community Trust

Host Organization: Natural Resources Defense Council (New York City, New York)


Rachel Correll

Rachel Correll has always been interested in the interaction between community and environment. She began focusing on preventing and preparing for flood threats after her community was devastated by floods in 2011. She focused on disaster management in the McNair Program at Syracuse University where she received a bachelor’s in Geography and in Earth Science. She is now in a doctoral program at Louisiana State University in the Department of Environmental Sciences working on community resiliency.

Foundation Sponsor: Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

Host Organization: Huron River Watershed Coalition (Ann Arbor, Michigan)


Emma Dolce

Emma Dolce is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree from the Ford School at the University of Michigan. She grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended Kalamazoo College where she majored in political science. Emma’s interests lie in the intersection of environmental and social policy with a focus on mitigating the effects of climate change on underserved populations. In her free time she enjoys being outside, playing ultimate frisbee, reading, food, and running.

Foundation Sponsor: New York Community Trust

Host Organizations: National Audubon Society (Washington, DC)


Sol Dressa

Sol Dressa is currently a first-year dual degree master’s student in Environmental Health Science and Urban and Regional Planning. She has a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in Health Promotion and Behavior. Upon graduating she worked at the Oregon Health Authority within the Environmental Health Department. Some of the concepts she is interested in include urban equity, urban sprawl, greenspace exposure and its relation to environmental health.

Foundation Sponsor: Wege Foundation

Host Organization: Grand Rapids Whitewater (Grand Rapids, Michigan)


Kamari Durley

Kamari Durley is an MA candidate in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program at Tufts University. He graduated from the University of Miami with a B.A. in Ecosystem Science & Policy. Kamari grew up in the Chicagoland area where he developed a strong interest in the planning and policy decisions that created the present day conditions in the city. This experience greatly influenced his research interests which are grounded in development and financing of affordable, environmentally sustainable housing, especially in the nation’s most vulnerable urban communities.

Foundation Sponsor: Mertz Gilmore Foundation 

Host Organization: Virginia Environmental Justice Coalition (Union Hill, Virginia)


Karen Goldburg, MS

Karen Goldburg graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2019 with an MS in Environment and Sustainability. Her areas of interest include U.S. western conservation, climate change adaptation, collaborative resources management, and environmental philanthropy. Karen’s work cuts across both natural and human systems, and as a graduate student she focused on learning how non-profit organizations can effectively address conservation and natural resource management issues by engaging diverse communities in environmental decision-making. Karen is looking forward to serving as an Environmental Fellow with the Walton Family Foundation’s Colorado River program this summer.

Foundation Sponsor/Host Organization: Walton Family Foundation (Denver, Colorado)


Leo Goldsmith

Leo Goldsmith is a rising second-year Master of Environmental Management student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His specialization is climate change science and solutions. He is interested in centering environmental justice and public health at the center of climate change adaptation plans and implementation. Before Yale, he worked with the New York Restoration Project doing ecological restoration and community engagement in New York City and obtained his bachelor’s at Oberlin College.

Foundation Sponsor: McKnight Foundation

Host Organization: Pillsbury United Communities (Minneapolis, Minnesota)


Laura Grier, MS

Laura Grier recently earned a MS from the University of Michigan focused on environmental justice, policy, and education. Prior to her graduate studies, Laura received a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She later lived and worked on a community farm and then led an urban service-learning program, both in North Carolina. In her spare time, you can find Laura running outside, experimenting with new cookie recipes, or re-watching her favorite episodes of “The Office.”

Foundation Sponsor: Mertz Gilmore Foundation

Organization: Virginia Interfaith Power and Light (Richmond, Virginia)


Donny Hearn III

Donny Hearn III is a Detroiter and Master of Public Health student at the University of Michigan. He completed a BS in Evolutionary Anthropology in 2018. Donny’s interest in environmental health promotion and biology draws from his history of urban gardening and wildlife admiration. With a global health experience and perspective, Donny aspires to contribute to equitable urban environmental conservation. He enjoys language learning, volunteering and collaborating with diverse walks of life.

Foundation Sponsor/Host Organization: Solidago Foundation (Northhampton, Massachusetts)


Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. His dissertation work concerns the interactions between Chinook salmon and infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus, which afflicts salmon and trout populations in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Though busy with his research, Daniel has made time to provide an important service, working in Nicaragua with Engineers Without Borders to provide safe drinking water to rural communities most in need.

Foundation Sponsor/Host Organization: Walton Family Foundation (Washington, District of Columbia)


A.J. Hudson, MA

A.J. Hudson is passionate about science education, ecology, nature photography, and environmental communication that reaches the broadest possible audience. He is deeply interested in the intersection of tropical resource extraction with environmental justice for minorities, colonized and indigenous peoples. Before graduate school, A.J. spent several years teaching and helped found a public high school in one of the most disenfranchised neighborhoods of Brooklyn. He is currently conducting research in the rainforests of Ecuador for the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Foundation Sponsor: The JPB Foundation

Host Organization: UPROSE (Brooklyn, New York)


Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones is an Energy and Earth Resources MS candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. Born and raised in Georgia, Aaron received their BA in Earth Science from Vassar College with a focus in paleoclimatology and sustainability. Their current studies focus on renewable energy, public policy, and machine learning. Aaron is excited to gain experience in visual communication and data analysis for climate and energy advocacy at the Acadia Climate and Energy Analysis Center.

Foundation Sponsor: Barr Foundation

Host Organization: Acadia Center (Hartford, Connecticut)


Saachi Das Kuwayama, MS

Saachi Das Kuwayama recently graduated from the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability with a master’s degree in Environmental Justice, Policy, and Communications. Her research explores the links between gender, water insecurity, and protest movements. Originally from the north side of Chicago, Saachi is a classical violinist, an amateur baker, and the proud daughter of Indian and Japanese immigrants.

Foundation Sponsor: Mertz Gilmore Foundation

Host Organization: Appalachian Voices (Boone, North Carolina)


Ta-wei Lin, MPH

Ta-wei Lin is a Taiwanese-American coming from Boston, Massachusetts. He is currently a Doctor of Public Health candidate at Harvard School of Public Health. Ta-wei’s background is in epidemiology and he is passionate about social justice and health equity. He is also an avid rock climber and cat enthusiast.

Foundation Sponsor: Barr Foundation

Host Organization: Livable Streets Alliance (Boston, Massachusetts)


Delia Mayor, MS

Originally from Madrid, Spain, Delia Mayor spent five years working in community health in the Washington D.C. area after earning a BA in Psychology from the University of Miami. Delia recently earned a Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability with a focus on Behavior, Education, and Communication from the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. Delia is interested in the connections between environmental justice and health.

Foundation Sponsor: Singing Field Foundation

Host Organization: Clean Water Fund (Washington, District of Columbia)


Aaron Neal, MS

Aaron Neal just completed his first year of graduate school at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is studying Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Community Engaged Participatory Research. His research interests are in community mental health and the way that the broader environment can influence human development. Aaron is passionate about understanding and supporting community. He hopes to use his experiences to understand how community is created and used to support holistic wellbeing.

Foundation Sponsor: Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

Host Organization: Detroit Office of Sustainability (Detroit, Michigan)


John Nguyen, MS

John Nguyen received his MS in Environmental Science at Villanova University and BS in Chemistry from Trinity University. His research combines Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and watershed geochemistry to study the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on Pennsylvania’s streams. He is pursuing a career in environmental regulation & policy and hopes to combine his technical expertise in chemistry with skills in science communication. In his free time, John enjoys movies, dragon boating, and being a foodie.

Foundation Sponsor/Host Organization: William Penn Foundation (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)


Jaynell D. Nicholson

Jaynell D. Nicholson is a graduate student at Indiana University’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs and is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is pursuing a dual master’s degree in Environmental Science and Public Affairs hoping to learn how to solve local environmental problems in an equitable way. Her passion for empowering students of color and Women in Science fields feeds her desire for a career that allows her to work directly with students and local communities.

Foundation Sponsor/Host Organization: The JPB Foundation (New York City, New York)


Akin Olumoroti, MS

Akin Olumoroti is a Master of Public Policy (MPP) student at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Prior to this he received his MS in Physics from Western Illinois University. At the Ford School, he focuses on energy, environmental, and international policy. Akin hopes to someday use the tools of science and technology to help governments and organizations develop and implement meaningful climate change mitigation and adaptation frameworks. His hobbies include traveling, photography, and making music.

Foundation Sponsor/Host Organization: Walton Family Foundation (Washington, District of Columbia)


Cassandra Osei, MPH

Cassandra Osei is a Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas’ School of Public Affairs and Administration. Before entering the doctoral program, she completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the Boston University School of Public Health, specializing in both Social Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology. Cassandra’s research interests explore the factors that shape the maternal mortality crisis, with an emphasis on the ways that disproportionate exposure to different environments interact with other elements of a racialized social structure.

Foundation Sponsor: Overbrook Foundation

Host Organization: The Northlight Foundation and Overbrook Foundation (New York City, New York)


Carol Peralta

Carol Peralta grew up in Los Angeles with a small and close-knit family. She majored in Environmental Studies as an undergraduate and is currently pursuing a MS in Environmental Hydrology. Carol has worked in the non-profit sector for the last three years as a, mostly outdoor, program instructor for elementary aged kids.

Foundation Sponsor: 11th Hour Project (Schmidt Family Foundation)

Host Organization: Community Alliance for Agroecology (Lindsay, California)


Sacha-Rose Phillips

Sacha-Rose Phillips is a second-year dual degree student at the School for Environment and Sustainability and at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Her interests span the areas of environmental justice, energy access and smart technologies in the Caribbean and Latin America. Currently, she is conducting research on the impact of smart metering on informal energy access in Jamaica.

Foundation Sponsor: Environmental Defense Fund (New York City, New York)

Host Organization: New York Community Trust


Jeffrey Wong

As a third-generation Chinese American from San Francisco, Jeffrey Wong is a proud son of a middle-class nurse and architect. His parents imbued him with their spirit of community service and love of natural wonders to become the person he is today. As an Environmental Fellow, Jeffrey hopes to ensure that as society adapts to the impacts of climate change, all solutions are equitable and just, protecting the most vulnerable as much if not more than the most privileged. When he is not thinking about the future of climate resilience, Jeffrey can be found in the kitchen or karaoke booth, experimenting with different recipes while singing a rendition of “Party for One” by the great Carly Rae Jepsen.

Foundation Sponsor: The JPB Foundation

Host Organization: Institute for Sustainable Communities (Montpelier, Vermont)


Cally Xi

Cally Xi is a Master of Public Health (MPH) candidate in Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She has a concentration in Environmental Quality, Sustainability, and Health and is working on a certificate in Risk Science. Cally is passionate about alleviating environmental health inequities, particularly in regards to water contamination and air pollution.

Foundation Sponsor: The JPB Foundation

Host Organization: Air Alliance Houston (Houston, Texas)