Written by Connie Yoon

Every year, three Bonnie Reiss Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI) fellows are selected by UCSB Sustainability. The Carbon Neutrality Initiative is a system-wide initiative that aims to get all UC operations to carbon neutrality by 2025. CNI undergraduate fellows lead projects that further the UC system’s goal of net-zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2021. This year’s fellows are Simran Kaur, Risa Mori, and Chloe Ortiz. Learn more about them below!

Simran Kaur
Simran Kaur is a fourth-year Economics major interested in studying and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Her interest in the CNI fellowship grew from the unique opportunity for her to engage with greenhouse emissions reductions on a local scale. Her work focuses on carbon offsets, developing and implementing local carbon offset projects. Her main project aims to implement an anaerobic digestion mechanism at a local swine farm. The mechanism is designed to capture methane from animal waste and convert it into energy that will be used to power heat lamps on the farm. 

This is Simran’s second year as a fellow and she is continuing work on projects that were interrupted by the pandemic. Once she figured out how to effectively adapt and continue her projects under the new circumstances, she became excited to further develop her work on the swine farm project. She is now working with a much larger team of engineering students who are helping to build the anaerobic digestion mechanism. Simran hopes to see the completion of this project before she graduates. 

Risa Mori
Risa Mori is a second-year undergraduate student studying Communication and Political Science. Before she became a CNI fellow, she had already started working on her project but was drawn to the fellowship because of the resources and mentorship it could provide her. She finds it extremely valuable to be able to connect with students across the UC system who are similarly passionate about environmental sustainability and food justice. Her project mission is to educate students and give them the tools to implement sustainability as a mindset and way of living. She is working on implementing a platform that allows all students to be exposed to sustainability education regardless of major, financial status, and other restricting factors. To achieve this goal, she is partnering with other students including AS Senators and leaders of campus environmental organizations to build support for including sustainability education in GauchoFYI. Her project started off as an idea for another program she is involved in, the Environmental Leadership Incubator (ELI). ELI is a nine-week program for which participants brainstorm and implement an environmental project. Risa feels extremely lucky to have received help from Professor Pulver and Professor Zollett during Fall quarter and is extremely appreciative of all her peers and mentors in this program. 

Chloe Ortiz
Chloe Ortiz is a third-year Environmental Studied and Communication double major. She was interested in participating in the UC-wide carbon neutrality initiative, because it is one of the first of its kind—something that every student, staff member, and faculty member should be proud of. That being said, Chloe saw that not many people knew about it and wanted to do everything she could to publicize it. As a CNI fellow, instead of working on one large project, she is focusing on developing numerous smaller projects that help inform and engage the UCSB student body and faculty in the initiative. Her work includes frequently publicizing the UCSB Cool Block chapter, planning virtual campus events such as movie screenings and discussion panels, engaging student organizations and building partnerships, working with EAB to organize an event for Earth Day, and holding a seminar at the end of the year to showcase CNI projects and fellows. 

With the dedication and passion that the CNI fellows put into their work, our campus will only continue to become greener and reduce our carbon footprint. They are essential future leaders of sustainability and are doing amazing work to combat climate change.