University of Michigan Delegation to COP 25

Climate Blue announced the University of Michigan delegation of fourteen students from across the university and one faculty member to attend COP-25 in Madrid, Spain. The delegates have a wide range of specialties and interests in water, energy, and agriculture, etc. The members of this year’s delegation are:

Week 1 Delegates (December 2-7)

Dominic Bednar is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability with a concentration in Energy Justice at the School for Environment and Sustainability. His research explores the institutional barriers of energy poverty recognition and response in the US whilst considering the spatial, racial/ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic patterns of residential energy affordability, consumption, and efficiency. His doctoral research aims to provide clarity for structuring more effective policy interventions and to improve decision making for assisting energy-vulnerable households, those likely to fall into energy poverty and struggle or be unable to pay their energy bills, resulting in energy utility shut-offs and forgoing basic necessities. At COP 25, Dominic is interested in just energy transitions and understanding the current and potential role that local and indigenous knowledge plays within the UNFCCC framework. Additionally, how community engagement is used as an asset-based tool towards climate mitigation and adaptation.

Zachary Berquist is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and his research is on transparent insulating materials for use in concentrated solar power. Zachary obtained his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Penn State University, and worked in industry for a year before returning to graduate school. At COP 25, Zachary is interested in the implementation of carbon neutral technologies in developing nations.

Yu-Ting Lo is a second-year master’s student at the University of Michigan studying environmental policy at the School for Environment and Sustainability. Her studies focus on carbon pricing and climate finance. At COP, she is hoping to learn more about global green bonds frameworks and the possible application in the US bond market that expand environmental investment channels and opportunities.

Sabrina Vivian is a 2015 graduate of the University of Maine, where she studied ecology and environmental sciences. After graduation she pursued interests in energy and environmental consulting. She is now a master’s student at the University of Michigan in the School for Environment and Sustainability. Sabrina focused her graduate studies on renewable energy and energy efficiency with the goal of returning to work in the energy industry through consulting or local government. At COP, she is hoping to gain a more global perspective on interdisciplinary and community approaches to clean energy solutions and resources protection.

Annalisa Wilder is a second year dual-degree masters student at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability and the Ford School of Public Policy. Her research focuses on the nexus between international economic development and climate adaptation policies, with specific interests in water and energy related policy. Annalisa graduated summa cum laude from Western Michigan University with degrees in Spanish and Political Science. At COP 25, Annalisa hopes to participate in resilience and adaptation discussions by sharing her experiences researching with the UNFCCC in Seychelles on sea-level rise impacts. Annalisa is very interested in learning about indigenous work being done in climate adaptation, as well as discovering what will happen with Article 6 as the conference progresses.

Fantasia Williams is a graduate of Howard University where she studied Economics and Sociology. She now attends the University of Michigan where she is pursuing a master’s in Environmental Justice as well as a Master of Public Health in Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology. At Michigan, Williams is exploring ways in which minorities can minimize environmental health disparities and environmental injustices in an era of climate change.

Week 2 Delegates (December 9-13)

Ellen Abrams is a third year graduate student at the University of Michigan pursuing dual degrees from the Ross School of Business and the School for Environment and Sustainability. Her academic interests are centered on water and energy access in emerging markets and she hopes to further explore these topics at COP. Ellen holds an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland and previously spent six years working in the international development sector on both rural water access and public health supply chain challenges.

Sarah Bellaire is a first year masters student at the University of Michigan pursuing a degree in Environmental Policy and Behavior Change from the School for Environment and Sustainability. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. At COP 25, she is interested in learning more about carbon pricing and understanding the current global innovations in food systems and food policies.

Elena Essa is currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan pursuing a dual degree in Sustainable Systems through the School for Environment and Sustainability and Energy Systems Engineering through the College of Engineering. She also completed her undergraduate degree in statistics from the University of Michigan in 2019. Elena’s research and academic interests focus on sustainable energy and technology in developing communities. During COP 25 in Madrid, she wishes to learn more about how developing countries are factored into climate negotiations and also about clean energy deployment around the globe.

Amanda Farthing is a master’s student at the University of Michigan, pursuing a dual degree in Mechanical Engineering and Sustainable Systems with the School for Environment and Sustainability. Her studies and research focus on clean energy development, particularly at the city scale. At COP 25, Farthing hopes to complement perspectives she gained from working with the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Cities Renewables Accelerator Team by observing how national policies may extend to or conflict with local clean energy action. 

Juan Jhong Chung is a graduate student at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. His academic interests include agro-ecology, sustainable development,  indigenous rights, and climate justice with a regional focus on Latin America. At COP25, he is interested in learning more about the intersection of green economies, clean technology, resource extraction, and indigenous sovereignty. Juan has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Boston University and previously worked for seven years in the technology industry.

Akash Shah is a third year PhD student in the Physics department with research focus in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences where his work looks at nuclear fusion. At COP 25, Shah is looking to study why climate change is such a contentious and difficult problem to formulate, much less solve. He intends to determine links to other similarly ‘wicked’ social and economic problems. 

Kate Vogel is a second year Master’s Student at the University of Michigan, studying Conservation Ecology and Environmental Policy. Kate has a passion for water policy and coastal management. At COP 25, she wants to learn more about building resilience to address sea level rise, and is looking forward to learning more about the negotiation process.

Alexa White is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan and a co-director for Climate Blue. With a focus on agroecology, her research dives deep into the indicators of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. She focuses on Goal #2: End Hunger and analyzes the expected impacts Goal #2 will have on practices of small-scale farmers. In 2015 and 2018 Alexa attended COP21 in Paris and COP24 in Poland as a delegate. At COP25 she plans to collect data on the influencers of agricultural climate policy, learn about the latest ecological strategies for tackling climate challenges in agriculture and assess how the dimensions of physical science are discussed across negotiations.