Bonnie Reiss Carbon Neutrality Fellows at UCSB

Picture of our CNI Fellow Simran Kaur
Simran kaur – Carbon Offsets

Hello, my name is Simran, and I am a fourth-year Economics major at UCSB. I have been a CNI Fellow for two years. My work focuses on developing local carbon offset projects. Carbon offsets are just one of the many tools the UC is using to achieve carbon neutrality, and local carbon offset projects create several co-benefits for our community. I have two main projects: one focuses on recycling biogas and the other is related to agroforestry. I am collaborating with UCSB's chapter of Engineers Without Borders and a local swine farm called Pork Palace for the first project. We are developing a mechanism that will convert the biogas from animal waste into a source of heat and/or electricity. The second project revolves around carbon sequestration through tree planting. I am working with faculty at UCSB to create a research program for undergraduates and high school students that will accompany this project. During my time as a CNI Fellow, I have made progress on both of these projects, but they are far from complete. If you are interested, these are projects new Fellows could take on!
My advice for future fellows is to be open to collaboration. During my time as a fellow, I have worked with student groups, local nonprofits, government agencies, faculty, and other researchers. There are many others who are doing work that closely aligns with what I do, and collaborating with them has definitely enhanced my projects. Also, be creative! This fellowship allows for a lot of creativity, so be sure to take advantage of that. 

Risa Mori – Climate Education

Empowering Environmentalists in Everyone: My project mission is to educate students and give them the tools to implement sustainability as a mindset and way of living. We have a generally environmentally-aware population, but there’s still work to be done on turning that into action in the realms of carbon neutrality and climate justice. Therefore, my project looks at students at eye-level and equips them with tools for turning education into action. Based on my initial ELI idea, I have expanded the idea of implementing a sustainability module/training at UCSB. While this is still a dream of mine, I am also considering taking the route of creating a student-run organization where undergraduates propose, develop and teach their own seminar-style classes. This democratic style of education, like the DeCal program at Berkeley, would allow the widespread education to happen without waiting for the university side to coordinate it.
In short, my project aims to 1) create a taskforce to explore these options and 2) work towards implementing a platform that allows all students to be exposed to sustainability education regardless of major, financial status, and other restricting factors.


Chloe Ortiz - Engagement Fellow

Hi everyone! My name is Chloe Ortiz and I am a third year Environmental Studies and Communication double major. As the CNI Outreach and Engagement Fellow, I am working on creating a communication channel between environmental organizations on campus to increase collaboration on carbon-mitigation initiatives. I also put on a number of events—including a CNI Seminar and a ‘Gather’ Documentary debrief—to raise awareness and drum up support for the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative among the faculty and student body, as we’re quickly approaching our 2025 deadline! 

Faculty Involvement

Dr. David Lea – Global Climate Leadership Council Representative (GCSC)

Dr. Lea is the representative for UCSB on the GCLC. The GCLC is comprised of UC administrators, professors, staff, and outside experts, GCLC advises the UC system on the best practices, policies, and technologies that will help achieve their carbon neutrality goal. The council also provides guidance on how to integrate CNI and other sustainability goals into the UC system’s teaching, research, and public service mission. Dr. Lea received his undergrad in geology from Haverford College and his Ph.D. in oceanography from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lea switched from geology to oceanography to focus on the chemistry of the ocean and the carbon cycle. He was also interested in reconstructing changes in ocean circulation and how they related to past climate change.

Learn more about faculty involvement here.

Research at the Bren School

UCSB has a wide range of researchers and interns including faculty, administration, and students, all working on achieving carbon neutrality. Below is a list of many different leaders on campus striving towards zero emissions.

  • TomKat UC Carbon Neutrality Project seeks to develop and deploy solutions to mitigate climate change by capitalizing on the vast resources and researchers within the University of California (UC) system. The goal is to support innovative, multidisciplinary research projects that will substantially accelerate the progress of the University of California Carbon Neutrality Initiative. David Auston, Principal Investigator, Lisa Leombruni
    •  Net-Zero Communication Strategy Working Group is developing a plan for strategic communications to help the University of California achieve its carbon neutrality goals. This involves identifying key UC decision-makers and values, conducting primary and secondary research on audiences throughout UC, and performing message testing to determine the most effective methods of engagement for different audiences. Jay McConagha, Celine Mol
    • Natural Gas Exit Strategies working group is evaluating options for eliminating natural gas as an energy source at University of California. This group is specifically investigating how energy efficiency, biomethane, and electrification can reduce and replace natural gas consumption at the University of California. Charlie Diamond, Evan Ritzinger
  • Carbon Zero UCSB Carbon Zero is a graduate student group thesis project from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management working with the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UCSB to determine optimal technological, financial, and stakeholder engagement strategies to achieve the Carbon Neutrality Initiative. Carbon Zero is collaborating with Geography and Facilities Management to prioritize locations for onsite rooftop solar photovoltaic. They are researching possible funding mechanisms and developing a financial model to forecast potential greenhouse gas and cost savings if a green revolving fund were implemented on campus. After meeting with an array of campus decision-makers and students, they are developing communications tools and recommendations to provide different campus groups, including staff and students, tools to help further engage the wider campus community around the Carbon Neutrality Initiative.  Charlie Diamond, Evan Ritzinger, Lydia Rudnick, Dawnielle Tellez, Emily Waddington