COP 26

COP 26 will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Here is this year’s delegation, representing the University of Michigan at COP26.

Week 1

Emily Johnson is a second year master’s student in the School for Environment and Sustainability, with a focus on environmental policy and planning. Her research leverages geospatial techniques and climate models to assess how climate change may impact biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Hindu-Kush Himalayas (HKH). As part of the effort to reduce knowledge gaps under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative, her research team is developing tools to assist both researchers and practitioners in the HKH. At COP26, Emily is excited to engage with Nairobi Work Programme events and learn more about how collaborative process functions at the international level for climate policy development.

Evan Gonzalez is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, where he develops numerical methods for simulating particle physics. For the last three years, Evan has helped organize the Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation to gather nuclear science students from around the country in Washington D.C. to interface with policy makers and advocate for clean energy policy that includes nuclear. At COP 26 he is looking forward to learning about how other countries tackle carbon pricing and prioritize their energy investments.

​​Muhammad Abdullah is a 3rd year PhD student at the Mechanical Engineering Department and is enthusiastic about clean energy resources, particularly for the transportation sector. He is also earning his Master in Sustainable Systems from School of Environment and Sustainability. At COP26, Abdullah is looking forward to experiencing the dynamics of international dialogues and how global cooperation can be achieved to make the planet earth greener for existing and future generations.

Kristina Curtiss is a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate. She is dedicated to building smart and sustainable cities across the urban/rural divide while alleviating the socioeconomic factors that cause inequality in that process. Before coming to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, she did issue-specific policy analysis for multiple Detroit-based non-profits and became a strong advocate for regional public transportation. At COP 26 she is excited to learn about global transportation decarbonization and understand how international climate goals impact cities.

AJ Convertino is a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate and Weiser Diplomacy Fellow at the Ford School of Public Policy. His past experience includes working in international climate policy at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in China and international space policy at NASA. AJ earned his BA in East Asian Studies and Political Science from Kalamazoo College. At COP 26, AJ hopes to get a more well-rounded understanding of multilateral climate negotiations to better prepare him for a career in international climate/space policy.

Naomi Barker is an MBA and MS Sustainability dual-degree candidate at the University of Michigan Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, focusing on the intersection of transparency, equity, sustainability, and transformational change within businesses and governments. Prior to joining the Erb Institute, Naomi spent six years with international environmental nonprofits (Greenpeace USA and the NDC Partnership) working primarily in governance, strategic development, and program implementation. Naomi holds a BA in Philosophy and Anthropology from American University in Washington, DC. She is most excited to explore the role of the private sector in NDC and SDG implementation at COP26.

Week 2

Lauren Balotin is a dual degree graduate student at the University of Michigan, pursuing an MPH in Environmental Health Promotion & Policy and an MS in Environment & Sustainability. During her time at U-M, Lauren interned with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in its Adaptation division, and she worked with the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners on its forthcoming climate action plan. She is most interested in working with developing countries to adapt to the health impacts of climate change, and she is excited to explore this topic at COP26.

Sarah Collins is a second year dual degree master’s student in the School of Education and the School for Environment and Sustainability. Their research interests focus on climate adaptation and education for sustainability. At COP26, Collins is presenting alongside their master’s capstone project client, the Climate Technology Centre and Network, to discuss technology relationships among updated nationally determined contributions by non-annex I countries. Additionally, Sarah is looking forward to learning how the global community will decide to step up climate action amidst the continued presence of the pandemic while considering pressing issues of equity and justice for frontline communities.

Chelsea Johnson is a second year master’s student in the School for Environment and Sustainability with dual specializations in Environmental Justice and Sustainability and Development. Her research focuses on climate adaptation, sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and food security. At COP26, Chelsea is looking forward to learning and observing how climate negotiations are conducted and climate adaptation policies are implemented in lower and middle income countries.

Natasha Dacic is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering. Her research focuses on nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agricultural regions. Her outside research interests include sustainability, environmental justice, and climate policy. At COP26, Dacic is interested in learning how countries will move forward in securing global net zero by midcentury in addition to addressing climate inequalities for groups impacted the most by climate change.

Annie Linden is a second year dual degree masters student at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Her research focuses on natural capital accounting and Social Life Cycle Assessments. She also completed her undergraduate degree in environmental and urban studies from Bard College in 2016. At COP 26, she is looking forward to observing the negotiation process.

Jessica Miller is a second year master’s student at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, specializing in Behavior, Education, and Communication. Her research focuses on climate adaptation and resilience, and environmental psychology. At COP26, Jessica is looking forward to discovering how international decisions regarding climate change intend to be scaled down to behaviors carried out at the individual level in communities across the globe.

Peter Siciliano is a dual-degree student between the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability and the School of Education, focusing on environmental psychology, human learning, and judgement and decision-making in the sustainability sphere. He is most interested in how science communication is accepted and/or discounted by the general public, as well as the environmental stressors that can affect how people perceive and interpret new information. At COP26, he is excited to observe the second week of negotiations, specifically how effectively separate delegations can bridge differences and create new pathways forward.