2016-2017 GCSC Fellows

Emerson Arehart Emerson Arehart, Department of Mathematics

I grew up moving every couple of years, but stayed in Reno, NV, for long enough to finish high school and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. Since finishing college, I’ve been lucky enough to work in a range of jobs, from slot machine designer to honeybee breeder.

At the U, I plan to work with Fred Adler to develop mathematical tools which better describe complex interactions in nature, especially along the human/industrial interface with the natural world. By finding new ways to frame complicated problems, and adapting mathematical tools to better fit the functionality of the natural world, perhaps we can find ways to help overcome some of the most important challenges of our times.

Debolina Banerjee

Debolina Banerjee, City and Metropolitan Planning

I was born in Kolkata, India. My studies, a Masters in Geography and a Masters in Environmental City Planning, introduced me to environmental geography and sustainability studies specifically veered towards creating environmentally robust urban centers, methods to apply geographic knowledge into pragmatic solutions for urban quandaries, and methods of controlling urban air pollution. These culminated in a desire to further my research acumen in designing an adaptive city, resilient towards any natural or anthropocentric hazard.

In the University of Utah I shall be working with Sarah Hinners. My research will concentrate on sustainable development in developing countries. My research will assay a planning area from an ecological perspective and correlate the role of efficient natural resource management with overall prosperity of all sections of the society. This study will reiterate the importance of urban design through correlation analysis of incompatible land uses, economic burden on health, and give a positive direction towards reorientation of existing policies safeguarding both human health and natural environment.

Kevin Craft

Kevin Craft, Atmospheric Science

I was born and raised in Albuquerque New Mexico and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Math. I enjoy spending time in the mountains running, cycling, hiking and skiing.

I will be studying under Dr. John Horel in the department of Atmospheric Sciences mountain meteorology group. I hope to contribute to the group and their effort to solve air quality issues over areas of complex terrain, among other various problems. I look forward to working on entirely new problems and learning about the atmosphere and the many weather phenomena.

Dale Forrister

Dale Forrister, Biology

Born and raised on a dirt road surrounded by forest in rural Vermont, I’ve always grown up with an appreciation for nature. In college, I decided to head west to studied Biology, Chemistry, and Spanish at Lewis & Clark College, in Portland, OR. Living in the Pacific North West opened my eyes to how beautiful and awe-inspiring pristine, old growth, forests can be. I’ve greatly enjoyed living in Utah for the past two years and exploring its natural wonders through backpacking, biking, hiking and skiing.
I was able to connect my deep seated passion for Latin America and interest in forest ecology when I took a job as a field technician for Drs. Phyllis Coley and Thomas Kursar where we worked in Tiputini, Ecuador studying tropical trees and their insect herbivores. I have spent the past two years working in the Coley/Kursar lab here at the University of Utah and I look forward to beginning a Ph.D in the same lab. I plan to continue studying plant herbivore interactions in the tropics, focusing on plant defense chemistry and how plant defense traits influences the diversity of insects found in tropical forests.

Majid Heidarifar

Majid Heidarifar, Electrical and Computer Engineering

I was born in Iran, and received a B.S. degree from Isfahan University of Technology and a Master’s degree from University of Tehran both in electrical engineering with the focus on power systems.

The widespread adoption of renewable energy resources and electric vehicles (EVs) in the future power systems to mitigate the destructive effects of global warming is unavoidable. However, the existing power systems may not tolerate high penetration of these resources, because of increasing the likelihood of occurring overload and overvoltage events in power systems components. The existing power system infrastructures must indeed be strengthened, requiring a huge amount of financial budget; indeed, the economic constraints in each engineering decision are limiting factors. The main focus of my research during my Masters studies was to propose methodologies for existing power systems to accommodate substantial penetration of renewables and EVs.I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering with Masood Parvania.

Kimberly Kernan

Kimberly Kernan, Environmental Dispute Resolution Program

I grew up in the Seattle area and obtained my law degree from the University of Washington. After spending eight years as a trial attorney, I took a break and spent a summer volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Institute. Subsequently, I moved to Bay Area and became a municipal attorney working on various land use, real estate development, and environmental issues. Many of these City and County projects involved the public, private, and non-profits sectors making for fascinating, but complex negotiations.

I will be working towards my L.L.M. in Environmental Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. My goal is to combine my multi-faceted negotiations background with current legal issues and identify potential public-private projects that could benefit from collaborative negotiation in search of sustainable outcomes.   Specifically, I intend to focus my research on the rapidly developing areas of community solar and micro-grids and the legal and administrative challenges that impede the advancement of these types of energy systems.

Jory LerbackJory Lerback, Geology and Geophysics

Leaving my southern California roots, I moved to Pennsylvania  to attend Franklin & Marshall College  where I received a B.A. in the geosciences. Since then, I have worked in both the private sector of groundwater exploration and at the American Geophysical Union (AGU). At AGU, I was able to combine my interest in social psychology, environmental activism, and the geosciences by interpreting datasets to increase inclusivity in the industry and broaden the audience of geoscience advancements.

I am attending the University of Utah to work towards developing a more sustainable pattern of natural resource consumption by highlighting the interconnectedness of earth-systems. I will work towards this objective through the Global Change & Sustainability Center as well as the interdisciplinary research on the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) with Dr. Brenda Bowen. My concentration will be on the groundwater flow and structural conditions beneath the BSF.

Cody Lutz, City and Metropolitan Planning

I was born in the Denver area and was raised in Southeast Idaho. My interest in the relationship between societies and their environments led me to study Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at Utah State University. I enjoy living in the West because of the abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, and skiing in particular. (Protect our winters!)

While working towards a Master’s in City and Metropolitan Planning at The U, I hope to learn how societies can use their resources more efficiently and reduce waste, and to adapt to changing conditions. I am also interested in the integration of human and natural systems. I will be working with Dr. Danya Rumore on collaborative resilience planning efforts in Zion National Park and gateway communities, in the face of increased visitation, limited water resources, and perceived threats to local quality of life. I am excited for the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of faculty and students with a shared enthusiasm for sustainability.

Emily PostEmily Post, Anthropology

I’m East Coast born and bred, originally from Connecticut. I’m also a recent graduate of UConn, where I achieved my Bachelors in Anthropology with a minor in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology. I made the big move out West this summer to achieve my Master’s in Anthropology, under the Evolutionary Ecology concentration.

My primary research interests concern the evolutionary ecology of human social networks- how social networks are formed in certain environments, what possible functions they provide, and what strategies are used to maintain them. I plan to work in collaboration with Dr. Shane Macfarlan of the Department of Anthropology, who studies small-scale societies in Mexico, the Commonwealth of Dominica, and Ecuador. By combining our interests, I plan to assess how people employ social networks to buffer socio-ecological risk associated with climate change. In today’s world, small scale societies often have the unfortunate burden of being the first to feel the impacts of change in the Earth’s ecosystems. By studying the support networks of small-scale populations, I hope to improve the well-being of those who are impacted by climate change through empirically-based, culturally-sensitive policy, and possibly be able to ‘scale up’ results to improve first-world nations’ ability to contend with these changes.