2014/15 Climate Action Fellows

The UC Office of the President has created the


General Climate Fellows 


Asiya Natekal
, Doctoral Student, Planning, Policy & Design

The University of California, Irvine, (UCI) was ranked #1 “Cool School” by Sierra Magazine in 2014. Although, UCI has made significant reductions in potential Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from new building space, reduction in existing buildings is still a major constraint. Investigating innovative ways to retrofit existing buildings is crucial to help attain the long-term goals of carbon neutrality for UCI campus. The concept of “Cool roofs” is a potential climate solution that UCI could explore and demonstrate the scaling up potential of “cool” design towards climate neutrality.
The primary purpose of this project is to perform a feasibility study of cool roofs for the existing buildings on UCI campus in order to develop a proposal for a phase-wise implementation plan of cool roofs for the Office of Sustainability. The core of this research is to utilize the campus as a living laboratory for reducing GHG emissions by retrofitting the existing building envelope.
The project aims to: 1) develop a robust and complete inventory for roofs and related infrastructure of existing buildings on UCI campus. 2) Develop an in depth cost benefit analysis on “cool roofs” that are suitable for UCI. 3) Organize a larger community meeting that will provide an opportunity for the campus community to learn about “cool roofs” and understand the importance of studying the campus’ historic/existing buildings and solutions towards climate neutrality for the entire building envelope. In this meeting, the community will participate in performing a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of the current proposal in order to identify barriers if any and reveal the possibilities and limitations for change. 4) Incorporate feedback in the development of phase-wise implementation plan and; 5) Create awareness of the retrofitting potential of the building envelope at UCI through a public workshop.


“Conservation through Creation” is an art installation piece that aims to bring awareness to climate change and conservation by bridging the gap between art, perception and science, making climate change accessible and bringing awareness of the reality of water and plastic consumption to the UCI community in a highly tangible format. The installation piece will involve switching off the sprinklers to a section of grass on the Ring Road for one month.   During this time,, as the grass dies, three over-sized sculptures of human forms will be installed in the area along with information about how much water is conserved by switching off sprinklers. Plans also include inviting guest artists and local agencies to the space to interact with students and generate important conversations. This project aims to promote a positive change in peoples’ behavior and encourage the audience to critically think about how much water is used in maintaining our lives – not just the landscaping around us.

Kathleen Deck is an undergraduate senior at UCI majoring in art within the Claire Trevor School of the Arts (http://kathleendeckart.webs.com). She is an interdisciplinary artist with a focus on painting. Her love of nature and conservation has influenced her life and she has hopes of one day affecting change on a global scale with awareness through the arts. In 2013, she won the UCI Student Center Art Competition with her painting, “The Four Elements,” which is displayed at the UCI Student Center. Her new projects include combining art and science to reflect the passion she has developed through her UCI earth systems science classes.



Hope Pollard, Graduate student, Planning, Policy & Design/Ecology
Project Title: UC REELS: UC Reserves for Energy Efficiency Learning
Focus areas: Adaptation, Mitigation, Energy Efficiency

Project Description: UC Reserves for Energy Efficiency Learning (UC REEL)

The UC Reserve System is a network of 39 California nature reserves operated by the UC; 28 of these provide lodging and research facilities.

As a Climate Action Fellow, Hope will develop a UC Reserves for Energy Efficiency Learning (UC REEL) program, which will involve student groups in the quest for carbon neutrality on their local Reserves.

This project will leverage efforts by PowerSave Campus, an organization under the Alliance to Save Energy, which employs paid interns on UC and CSU campuses and works to assist schools in becoming more energy efficient.

Through UC REEL, Hope will connect PowerSave Campus Teams and volunteers with their local Reserves and oversee them as they conduct energy audits of these Reserves. Each Reserve with research or lodging facilities will receive an energy audit and recommendations for how it can conserve energy at that site.

These recommendations will be presented to each Reserve and will preferably be adopted by as official energy efficiency policy. Each guest at a given Reserve should be expected to become familiar with the policies as a condition of their stay.

The UC REEL program will allow the Reserve System to become a beacon of energy efficiency in the quest for net carbon neutrality. As campus staff, faculty, and students visit Reserves along with members of the public, all of these visitors will be introduced to concepts of energy efficiency through the guidelines they follow upon arrival.

All participants in the program will also be expected to reach out to members of their campus in order to promote awareness of energy efficiency within the Reserve System.


Hope Pollard is a first-year Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student at UCI. She currently works for the Alliance to Save Energy’s PowerSave Schools program, where she helps teams of students at K-12 schools make their campuses more energy efficient. Her focus in the MURP program is on helping communities become healthier and more sustainable, and on directing the field of planning towards more empirical community-based approaches.

Climate Communications Fellows 

(Two students were selected to receive a $2,000 award each)


Cody Lee
Undergraduate, Social Ecology
Cody Lee is a third year transfer student majoring in social ecology. He is currently working through the Global Sustainability Resource Center in establishing the California Student Sustainability Coalition chapter at UCI. He is an engaged student organizer and is deeply passionate about sustainability.

Coordinating groups and organizing individuals is vital in creating change. Through engagement with his climate action fellows, Cody will be establishing a student engagement network that will harness the energies of the sustainability organizations on campus while connecting the GCLC representatives from across the UC system. This infrastructure will be the foundations upon which future initiatives and campaigns will be built – giving the GCLC and UCI the networks needed to take action on our most pressing climate issues.


Amelia Rose Unsicker
Graduate Student, Dance
Amelia Unsicker is a first-year Dance MFA Candidate. Amelia graduated from the University of Oregon in June 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in dance. She has been a company dancer with Ballet Fantastique and the Agnieszka Laska Dancers. She is also a teacher and choreographer. Most recently, Amelia presented her choreography at New Slate, a showcase of works created by dance graduate students. Amelia believes that the arts are a forceful agent of social activism. For her thesis, she is working to bring about climate change awareness via dance. Amelia believes that dance can establish new perspectives of serious topics.
Project Description
Climate change is occurring right before our eyes, and it’s time to bring new awareness to the issue. This project aims to create student engagement around climate awareness both on and off campus. In coordination with the student representatives of the President’s Global Climate Leadership Council (GCLC), a system-wide communication strategy will be designed and implemented in order network our ideas. We ask the following questions: What is missing on campus that could further students’ interest in climate awareness? What kind of engagement regarding climate do students want on campus? By asking these questions, new and innovative forms of student engagement around climate change will be developed. Social media, short films, and the use of art as a means of climate awareness will enhance this student engagement.


GSRC Climate Justice Fellows 


Nicky Cuevas
Undergraduate, Urban Studies
Nicky Cuevas is an undergradutate pursuing a degree in Urban Studies and a minor in Global Sustainability. She has been a student assistant at UC Irvine’s Global Sustainability Resource Center (GSRC) since her first quarter on campus. She’s an aspiring environmental attorney, whose primary interests lie in environmental law, environmental justice, community organizing and water policy. Through her work, she hopes to bridge the gap between youth and professionals engaging in sustainability and climate justice work, learn with and from others, and to inspire others to engage in and or continue this type of work by highlighting current efforts made by students.


Bushra Bangee
Undergraduate, Environmental Science
Bushra Bangee is a first year student at UC Irvine pursuing a degree in Environmental Science. She is an intern at the Global Sustainability Resource Center as the California Student for Sustainability Coalition chapter head for the UCI chapter. As a Climate Justice Fellow, her vision is to redefine the understanding of sustainability through deeper connections with the concepts of social justice and social responsibility. She hopes to work with cross cultural groups in order to use sustainability to address needs in communities that are the most affected by climate injustice. It is her goal, under the mentorship of GSRC and Climate Justice Fellows staff, to bring sustainability to the people, from concept to reality.