State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

First Columbia Climate School Graduates Head Off to Exciting Jobs

Photo: Michael DiVito

With their summer internships ending, the first graduates of the Columbia Climate School are heading out into the world to put their knowledge into action.

These students spent the past 12 months learning about climate change and social science in the MA in Climate and Society program. Offered by the Climate School in partnership with the Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the interdisciplinary graduate program trains professionals and academics to understand and address the impacts of climate variability and climate change on society and the environment.

What can you do with a degree in Climate and Society? Below are just a few examples that showcase the diverse career paths that students are taking. Their roles range from consultants and communications officers to scientists, and they’re carrying their climate expertise into startups, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and more.

  • Throughout the program, Maya Kashapov has been one of her class’s biggest advocates for carbon removal technology. At the start of summer, she happily joined Captura, a startup focused on removing carbon from our oceans. She’d been following their CEO, Steve Oldham, since undergrad, when he was the CEO of Carbon Engineering — one of the first, largest, and most successful carbon removal tech companies in the world. She emailed him every year, commenting on his work, inquiring about job opportunities, and giving updates about what she was doing in the carbon removal space. This year, when Maya was a week away from graduating, they had a call together in which he offered her a role in business development. She started as an intern and will continue working there after the summer.
  • Liam McAuliff is passionate about working on the clean energy transition and was excited by the challenge of pivoting to a career as a clean energy analyst and strategist. Previously, he worked in communications at Sierra Club and American Rivers. He has happily accepted an offer to work with the Department of Energy Office of Multilateral Climate and Clean Energy Engagement through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. In his role, he’ll be working on international clean energy dialogue, diplomacy, and strategy with partner countries and organizations.
  • Several graduates, including Elizabeth Nguyen, have accepted offers to join the brand new Climate and Sustainability practice at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Elizabeth initially imagined herself working for a non-governmental organization after the program, but was drawn to the opportunity at BCG to expand climate impacts across sectors. She is excited to work at BCG on a wide range of climate-related projects for businesses and governments to scale climate solutions. This summer she was conducting research on climate migration and climate conflict for the Red Cross Crescent Climate Centre and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
  • This summer, Alisa Petrosova has been working as a storytelling and research fellow for Good Energy, a story consultancy for the climate age. Their mission is to “inspire, support, and accelerate stories in scripted TV and film” with the goal of integrating climate change into 50% of scripted shows and movies by 2025. The founder recently asked Alisa to stay on, as she’s already become an important member of the team. In her role, Alisa is working to design and develop the consulting branch of the company. She conducts research for the development of climate storytelling workshops, using famous off-air shows as an exercise for integrating climate change into stories. She’s currently working as a consultant herself — for example, helping the writers of a podcast worldbuild a climate-changed 2070.
  • George Meddings is working with CGIAR (formerly known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research), an organization whose work has been cited a lot throughout his time in the Climate and Society program. In his role as a Visiting Researcher in Climate Security, he’ll work at the intersection between climate-smart agriculture, household resilience, and climate-related vulnerability. George has a strong desire to work all around the world, so he was very glad to accept CGIAR’s offer along with the possibility of joining his team members working in Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia, after some time in London.
  • Nicole Loher came to the Climate and Society program with 10 years of marketing and communications experience and felt the C+S degree could help her both advance to a leadership role in her career and work on climate. At the start of summer, she became Head of Digital and Social Content for Aether Diamonds, which transforms CO2 from direct air capture into diamonds.
  • Hailey Brim is working as a Climate Resilience Consultant for SLR, a global environmental and sustainability consulting firm. She’ll be working on climate resilience and adaptation initiatives across community, state, and regional levels.
  • In June, Sarah Hutchinson and her cat Rosie jumped into a U-Haul and drove to her home state of Michigan, where she had been working as a Climate Data Science Officer since April. She’s working with both the Michigan State Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and her alma mater, University of Michigan, ensuring that state-wide climate goals are monitored and evaluated accurately.
  • Briana Carbajal started as the Energy Justice Policy Intern with WE ACT for Environmental Justice in the spring and is now working full-time as the organization’s State Legislative Manager. They are responsible for coordinating state legislative and policy work, advocating for policy priorities at the state level, advising staff members on the current landscape of environmental and climate policies, and working directly with state legislators and agencies to build programs and policies that advance environmental justice for the Northern Manhattan community.
Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

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1 year ago

Good luck to all of them. I hope the realize that ‘Climate Policy’ is really just using technology in a common sense way to move into a better future.

Reply to  Ron
1 year ago

“Just”? Previously, industry and governments have used technology to do a lot of destruction to the future of our planet, so I think Climate Policy isn’t “just” using technology wisely; doing so as a primary focus is a big, and vital, shift!