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Alumni Spotlight: Sharelle Pampo Copple

Sharelle Pampo Copple

Sharelle Pampo Copple is a recent alumna of the Sustainability Science (SUSC) program (‘21). She grew up in Seattle, Washington, and attended the University of Washington where she earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Business Administration-Accounting. As an avid scuba diver, Sharelle has witnessed the effects of coral bleaching firsthand. This experience is what initially sparked her passion for climate change and sustainability.

As an SUSC student, Sharelle was able to pivot her career focus from business to science. She was also able to work for the Earth Institute and conduct research for the NASA GISS Climate Change Research Initiative. This past year, she worked specifically on the “Climate Change in the Hudson Estuary: Past, Present, and Futureproject and examined the way anthropogenic development has impacted marshes. Currently, she is exploring the global carbon budget within the context of the climate change planetary boundary and has recently started a new role as the director of research for a company that works to create a blockchain-based framework for carbon accounting. 

What drew you to the SUSC program? 

Columbia is a top-tier school and has some of the world’s leading scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory doing research on climate change. In the SUSC program, I would be learning from these esteemed scientists, which was a huge pull from the beginning. In addition, the Sustainability Science program’s flexibility allowed me to pivot my career from the business side to the science side, which was what I was hoping to accomplish during my time in school. It also allowed me to really cater classes to my interests and career goals.

What were some of the highlights from your time in the Sustainability Science program? 

The students and faculty are top-notch. While everyone has different backgrounds and expertise, they are all incredibly smart and passionate about climate change. I learned so much just by getting to know my cohort through conversation.

What are some of your career aspirations? And how did being a part of the SUSC program affect those aspirations?

Career-wise, I really just wanted/want to be a part of the climate solution in any way possible instead of being a bystander. The Sustainability Science program has allowed me to do that by equipping me with the education, skills, tools, and connections to do so. I’ve been able to pivot my career to a more science-based trajectory to better understand the carbon budget.

Do you have any advice for current or incoming students?  

At some point, you may have imposter syndrome, but just remember you were hand-picked to be a part of this program.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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