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September 15, 2020

Six NSOE Student Assistants Join Nicholas Institute for Academic Year

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is pleased to welcome six student assistants from the Nicholas School of the Environment for the 2020–21 academic year.

The Nicholas School of the Environment awards merit-based assistantships to a select number of professional degree students during their first year of study to assist faculty and staff with teaching, research, professional, and other projects. Through an agreement with the school, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions is able to employ a handful of students each year to work on projects while learning first-hand about environmental and energy policy making.

This year's student assistants are:

Iqra Ahmed Iqra Ahmed

Master of Environmental Management program, concentration in Ecosystem Sciences and Conservation

Work for the Nicholas Institute: I am currently digging into how federal programs implemented at the state level (through NRCS departments) can align with state working lands climate goals. I will be assessing how NRCS programs and supported policies in the state align, or in some cases may impede, with climate mitigation and resilience activities on agriculture and forest lands.

Career aspirations: I would like to continue my career working at the nexus of people and the ecosystems they inhabit. Broadly, I would like my career to focus on the work we do as land managers and conservationists through an equity lens, in order to make sure the activities we implement on behalf of the ecosystem don’t negatively impact the people that live there and have historically been marginalized or underrepresented. My two passions currently circle around biodiversity conservation and environmental justice.

Scott BechlerScott Bechler

Master of Environmental Management program, concentration in Environmental Economics and Policy

Work for the Nicholas Institute: Assisting with various projects for the Climate & Energy Program.

Career aspirations: I aspire to better understand how vulnerable populations are affected by climate change and a clean energy transition with the goal of helping to formulate policies that address these inequities.

Allison BettencourtAllison Bettencourt

Master of Environmental Management program, concentration in Environmental Economics and Policy

Work for the Nicholas Institute: I am working with Liz Losos on an analysis of the environmental and social implications of post-COVID stimulus infrastructure spending. The project looks at whether the tools and opportunities are in place for low- and middle-income countries to choose a sustainable infrastructure pathway. I will assist with infrastructure project data collection from multilateral development banks and countries, country case study preparation, and development of policy recommendation

Career Aspirations: In my future career, I would like to work to establish public-private partnerships that increase equity and access toward environmental resources. Specifically, I would like to focus on policy that supports the transition to renewable energy. If possible, I would like to include Latin American and considerations of developing countries in my career path. 

Abi VanoverAbi Vanover

Master of Environmental Management program

Work for the Nicholas Institute: At the Nicholas Institute, I'm working with the Energy Access Project to support research and help connect practitioners, researchers, and the Duke community.

Career Aspirations: I'm interested in working on utility decarbonization and resiliency issues, especially at the intersection of carbon emission reduction pledges and increased vulnerability to natural disasters. 

Yifan WangYifan Wang

Master of Environmental Management program, concentration in Business and Environment

Work for the Nicholas Institute: As a research assistant, I will be working with John Virdin and his team primarily on applied research and analysis of voluntary corporate commitments to reduce plastic pollution. I will also be in charge of monitoring and updating the Plastics Policy Inventory with the latest public policies.

Career aspirations: I would like to join the sustainability consulting industry and help corporations create environmentally and socially responsible business strategies. I believe the private sector has the resources and influence that could be leveraged to drive changes.

Cassidy WhiteCassidy White

Master of Environmental Management program

Work for the Nicholas Institute: I will be developing a series of blog posts to help decision makers understand the gaps in water data and why an Internet of Water is needed. Other blogs will provide an understanding of critical water data concepts and describe the tools and technologies available regarding water data. I will also be involved in the development of content about where the Internet of Water team has been involved in projects for the IoW website.

Career aspirations: I hope to work for a consulting firm where I can help businesses reduce their water footprint and develop a sustainable understanding of and relationship with water. In doing so, I hope to help businesses connect with the watersheds in which they operate, using community-based water projects to address water scarcity and quality challenges.