ENVS Award Recipients

Environmental Studies is pleased to announce the following award recipients: Fall, 2017...


Terence Freitas Scholarship Recipient: Valeria Paredes

I am currently a second year Environmental Studies and Economics double major. I am a Xicana from Bellflower, CA.This is my first year working at the American Indian Resource Center and People of Color Sustainability Collective where we advocate the importance of PoC and indigenous folk in sustainable movements, with an emphasis on ancestral reclamation and practices. I have worked with non-profit environmental justice organizations in Southeast LA, where we studied food deserts and toxic industrial sites that heavily reside in latinx and migrant communities. Although societal-environmental interactions are a focus of mine, I’m still exploring the various aspects of my major such as alternative energy, resource management, and sustainable/equitable food systems.


Terence Freitas Award Honorable Mention: Sierra Surabian

I am a fourth-year undergraduate studying Environmental Studies, with a focus in environmental pollution.  I am very passionate about environmental issues, specifically environmental inequality and conservation. I am interested in researching environmentally friendly solutions to repairing ecosystems that have been devastated by toxic pollutants. I grew up in the Central Valley of California. There I experienced what it is like to live within the fields of the large commercial agriculture industry. The Central Valley of California produces roughly $13 billion worth of food products annually. Although this sounds like an astonishing feat to be proud of, this “fruit basket of the world” title comes with a heavy price for the communities that live within the farms in the Central Valley. My commitment to environmental justice and the environment inspired me to create a senior thesis research project on finding an environmentally friendly remedial solution to help communities in need clean up their contaminated environments. I intend to use my results to demonstrate the possibility of using plants to detoxify and clean up hazardous soils. 


CONCUR, Inc. Scholarship Recipient: Sarah Marshall

I am a senior undergraduate majoring in Environmental Studies with a focus in environmental policy. It has been a goal of mine to one day work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whether at the state or national level. I hope to provide affordable and accessible resources for communities facing environmental justice concerns, while also focussing on equitable development of communities that are resilient to climate change. Presently, I am interning at the US EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice where I focus on stakeholder engagement. Finding potential advocates of environmental justice and outreaching to them with resources and support is what further inspires me to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Next quarter I will be participating in the UC Center Sacramento program where I hope to intern for CalEPA and learn more about how various environmental policies are implemented and enforced at the state level.


CONCUR, Inc. Honorable Mention: Stephanie Webb

I am passionate about food. Where it comes from, how it’s sourced and how consumer choices influence ecosystem health and food producers livelihoods. Over the past eight years, I have dedicated my professional endeavors towards addressing injustices within our seafood system by bringing several years of corporate finance to fishing dependent communities in search of economic solutions. I advise fishing communities in areas of organizational development, finance, economics, marketing, sustainability planning, and traceability. I use facilitation, planning and collaboration to harness innovative business models that incentivize sustainable food production, enhance product quality, improve access to marine and natural resources and promote fair trade for producers. Currently, my doctoral research examines social, political and economic forces constraining seafood systems: shrinking fishing communities, increasing consolidation of mid-chain players, high seafood waste and low consumer demand for diverse seafood products. 

James Stuart Chanley Scholarship Recipient: Deanna Davidson 

Hammett Fellowship Winners

The Hammett fellowship is made possible by a generous donation from Benjamin and Ruth Hammett, for students who conduct interdisciplinary research on climate change or climate change and water issues. The Environmental Studies department is pleased to announce the Winter 2017 recipients, Ana Martinez Fernandez, Grace Barcheck, and Danielle Crawford.

Martinez FernandezAna Martinez Fernandez, Ph.D. student, Department of Earth and Planetary Science

I was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, surrounded by buildings that made me long for the sea and mountains constantly. I spent my childhood summers on my grandparents’ farm, where I realized how completely we depend on nature for basic things like oxygen and food.  This inspired me to study Environmental Science at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid where I specialized in limnology and water quality. For the senior year of my bachelor’s degree I studied and researched abroad at Umea Universitet and at the Climate Impact Research Centre of Abisko, Sweden where I learned about microbial ecology, pollution and climate change.

After I graduated, I worked at a sustainable rural development company creating tools to assess the environmental risks of olive and seed oil extraction and refinement. Wanting to refocus on water quality I applied for a grant from the Ministry of Education of Spain to work as a research scholar in Paytan Biogeochemistry lab here at UCSC. I was awarded the grant, and enjoyed the research so much, I decided to continue pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science. I am currently using RNA sequencing and physiologic analyses to investigate the effects of ocean acidification and climate change on corals and benthic foraminifera to identify species and populations resistant to a changing environment.

BarcheckGrace Barcheck, Ph.D. student, Earth and Planetary Sciences

Grace is a senior Ph.D. student in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department. Her love of landscapes and the geologic processes that form them began during childhood family vacations to Colorado, where she was equally enamored of hiking the high peaks of the Rockies and hunting for fossils in the limestone beds of the Great Plains. As an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, Grace majored in Earth Science because she loved going on field trips and expanding her knowledge to explain the landscapes around her. Grace became interested in seismology and geophysics at WashU. While working on several seismology research projects at WashU, she was privileged to also be involved in many field expeditions, one of which brought her to Antarctica and ultimately her current research path. Over the years, Grace participated in seismometer deployments in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Marianas Trench, various parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in Iceland. Grace’s current research path was inspired by the stunning beauty and captivating science she encountered on her first trip to Antarctica in 2010 to service seismometer equipment deep in The Middle of Nowhere, Antarctica. At UC Santa Cruz, she is studying the movement of the Whillans Ice Stream, which is a fast-flowing outlet of the smaller but more unstable “Western” half of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. She uses seismometers to listen to the sounds the bottom of the ice makes as it scrapes over the sediment, rock, and water underneath, and she relates what she learns to GPS measurements of ice speed. The goal is to better understand how ice slides for better predictions of sea-level rise. Her research also aims to explain what is causing the Whillans Ice Stream to slow down (say what??), and why it seems to be skittering and stick-slipping to a halt. 

Danielle Crawford

Danielle Crawford, Ph.D. student, Literature

I was born and raised in the Santa Cruz area and received my B.A. in Literature/Writing at UC San Diego. After receiving my undergraduate degree, I entered a graduate program at San José State University, where I received my M.A. in English and Comparative Literature and gained valuable teaching experience. Upon joining the Ph.D. program in the Literature Department at UC Santa Cruz, I became especially attracted to interdisciplinary research, and particularly work situated at the intersection between literary and environmental studies. While I had always been interested in the environment, taking classes in the Literature and Environmental Studies Departments at UC Santa Cruz made me realize that my work could actually address both fields. With the help of my committee, which includes my advisor Rob Wilson, Christine Hong, Kirsten Silva Gruesz, and S. Ravi Rajan from the Environmental Studies Department, my work broadly explores the complex relationship between U.S. militarization and destructive storm systems in the Pacific during the 20th and 21st centuries. My prospective dissertation draws from historical case studies, literary narratives, films, archival documents, and scientific literature on tropical cyclones and utilizes a wide geographic focus that encompasses sites such as the Philippines, Hawai‘i, California, and the Marshall Islands. By examining the intimacies between extreme storms, U.S. warfare, and weapons testing, my project analyzes how the U.S. military has historically responded to and interacted with the climate in the Pacific, and the implications this holds for disaster aid under global climate change.



Winter 2016 Hammett Fellowship Winners:

Kate Ross, Environmental Studies graduate student: Forests under climate change: climate sensitivity and management of Eastern Sierra Nevada conifers

I’m originally from Hanford, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. I spent my summers at my family’s pack station in the central Sierra Nevada, hiking and enjoying the outdoors. I received my B.A. in Linguistics and German from the University of California, Santa Barbara, but by the end of undergrad, I realized my interests and passion were in environmental studies and plant ecology. I studied Environmental Sciences at the University of Cologne, where my masters’ thesis considered the effect of specific soil microbes on plant growth and root morphology. As a PhD student at UC Santa Cruz, I work with Michael Loik in the Environmental Studies Department. I am broadly interested in understanding the relationship between physiological and distributional responses of plants to climate change. In my research I work with eastern Sierra Nevada conifers in the area around Mammoth Lakes, CA, examining current physiological processes and distributional patterns across an elevation gradient, as well as historical growth trends embedded in tree rings.

Galen Gorski, Earth and Planetary Sciences graduate student: Linking hydrogeology, biogeochemistry, and microbiology during stormwater

I was born in Washington State and grew up hiking in the North Cascades near Mt. Baker, trying to keep up with my older brothers. I went to Carleton College in Minnesota and majored in chemistry, but my interests shifted to environmental chemistry and geology. After I graduated, I worked as a technician in a stable isotope lab at the University of Utah, then moved back to Minnesota and worked in a biometeorology group at the University of Minnesota. I am broadly interested in using stable isotopes and other chemical tracers to investigate human impacts on the hydrological cycle and other biogeochemical processes. Now at UCSC, I am a PhD student working with Andy Fisher and Adina Paytan in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. In my primary research I am investigating ways to improve water quality through the removal of nitrate and other contaminants through the use of naturally occurring microbial populations. Our research is focused in the Pajaro Valley Groundwater Basin, a chronically overdrafted basin south of Santa Cruz that faces significant water quality challenges. We hope our research can lead to low cost technologies and management practices that provide dual improvement to water quantity and quality on the central coast of California and beyond.