By: Sarah Swinnerton, Carbon Neutrality Initiative Ambassador 

Every year, UCSB Sustainability selects three undergraduate fellows under the Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI), a system-wide initiative to make all UC campus and medical center operations carbon neutral by 2025. Established in 2015, the Bonnie Reiss Carbon Neutrality Student Fellowship Program funds student-led projects that support the UC system’s goal to produce zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Meet this year fellows, Rachel Huang, Simran Kaur, and Sarah Swinnerton.


Simran is a third-year Economics major who is interested in helping UCSB achieve its goal of carbon neutrality. She is continuing the work of past UCSB CNI Fellows by exploring the potential for local carbon offset projects that are high quality and bring co-benefits to the local community. Simran has identified several projects in Santa Barbara County that have the potential to generate carbon offsets and is exploring the feasibility of those projects.  These projects may include livestock management as well as best practices in stewarding grasslands and rangelands.  


Rachel is a fifth-year Chemistry and Biopsychology double major. Stemming from her interest in laboratory energy use, she saw CNI program as an opportunity to design her project based on her interest. Rachel wants to learn how students and staff can conduct research more efficiently, as laboratories are one of the biggest energy consumers on campus. She is collaborating with LabRATS (Laboratory Resource, Advocates, and Teamwork for Sustainability) to reduce plug load usage and replace inefficient ultra-low freezers. Rachel will also be working with the Lab Ventilation Working Group to improve heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in on-campus buildings.

Sarah Swinnerton is this year’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative’s Ambassador. She is a fourth-year Environmental Studies and Political Science double major. Sarah is focusing on promoting awareness of climate change and engaging the student body in the CNI. Through interactive events and programming, she hopes to empower students to get involved with sustainability and climate initiatives on campus. This quarter Sarah is promoting carbon-conscious diets and lifestyle habits.

This year’s CNI fellows and ambassador are excited to collaborate with students, staff, faculty, and administration to improve our university's carbon footprint. Together, we can make a change!