UCSB environmental students work to make world better
UCSB’s Schmidt Environmental Solutions Fellows program has received an additional two years of funding that will support 23 students to engineer new ways to change the world.
The Schmidt Environmental Solutions Fellows program assists undergraduate and graduate students who use science to develop new techniques and solutions to the world’s most urgent environmental problems. It was founded in 2019 with the support of The Schmidt Family Foundation.
Douglas McCauley, an associate professor in UCSB’s Marine Science Institute, oversees the fellowship program. He told the News-Press that students are selected from an extensive list of extraordinary applicants from a variety of disciplines.
He also said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing for this new funding is perfect.
With everything going on in the world, certain pressing environmental problems have been pushed aside, Dr. McCauley said.
“The timing of this renewal of the Schmidt Environmental Solutions Fellows program could not have been better. While COVID-19 has created significant new challenges for UCSB researchers, the threats facing our environment and affecting our well-being have not gone away,” Dr. McCauley said in a statement.
“A silver lining is that this funding is empowering our students to develop some exciting and novel digital research techniques that are helping us remotely study our planet,” he said. “This new tool kit seems likely to transform the way we do environmental problem-solving in ways that create value well beyond the COVID-19 era.”
In addition, Mr. McCauley said due to COVID-19 restrictions, many students have had to become creative in the way they study and solve various environmental problems.
He told the News-Press about one student who was unable to research algal blooms in the field. So instead, that student is now developing a new way to study the blooms using satellite images.
“The insights we gain from environmentally focused research and the technology development that accompanies it can help to restore our earth and ocean systems and provide opportunities on a global scale,” Wendy Schmidt, president and co-founder of The Schmidt Family Foundation and co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute said in a statement. “I am encouraged by the achievements of these students and eager to see the impact of the next cohort. This next generation of students are leading a smart path forward to a healthy and prosperous planet.”
Dr. McCauley said this new class of students will take on a wide range of challenges including climate change, light pollution, coral reef bleaching, and plastic waste in the ocean. He also said students will provide outreach programs for the next generation by bringing local elementary school children to campus to learn more about environmental science.
This fall, the public will be invited to an evening at UCSB where a selection of the fellows will share their research and solutions.