About the School of the Environment
Since 1900, YSE has addressed the world’s most critical environmental challenges through research, practice-based scholarship, and public engagement.
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Students at YSE gain the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to create a sustainable future for themselves and future generations. They are part of 14 master’s and three doctoral programs, including joint- and dual-degrees offered in collaboration with departments and schools across Yale and with external peer institutions. YSE also hosts more than 20 unique centers, programs, and initiatives that foster groundbreaking research, sponsor internship opportunities, and host engaging conferences and events that elevate diverse voices and ideas in numerous fields of study.
Our internationally renowned faculty lead rigorous coursework across ten learning communities, each focused on a different area of expertise. Their innovative research, completed with students and staff across Yale and within numerous disciplines, is changing how we understand the environment, conservation, and sustainability.
Eliminating Electronic Waste in the Tech Industry
Charissa Rujanavech ’13 MEM is a tech industry innovator, developing novel ways to recycle and eliminate electronic waste. Shortly after graduating from YSE, she invented Liam, an automated disassembly system that can take apart more than 1 million iPhones a year so the components can be reused. She has continued her work in the circular economy, promoting a closed-loop supply chain for major retailers, including Amazon, and is now developing new technologies and partnerships to decarbonize refrigeration, retail operations, and food waste at Albertsons Companies.
Financing Community-led Climate Action in Africa
As a YSE student, Rita Effah ’12 MFS participated in COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. She says her experience at the annual U.N. climate change conference was the catalyst that sparked her interest in working to mitigate climate change impacts in Africa.
Now a senior climate finance officer at the African Development Bank, Effah is managing the Africa Climate Change Fund, which implements small grant projects in 28 African countries.
Speaking for the Islands
At the end of 2021, Lia Nicholson ’14 MEM traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, on a mission with existential stakes. As the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States at the U.N.’s annual climate change conference, COP26, Nicholson represented the bloc of 39 small island nations, which together comprise 20% of all U.N. member states. While the numbers alone can seem abstract, the difference between a global temperature rise of 1.5° Celsius over the preindustrial baseline and a rise of 2° is “existential” for the vulnerable AOSIS nations that were among the first to have to reckon with the impacts of climate change nearly 30 years ago, she says.
Redefining Human-Wildlife Conflict
In the Tibetan Plateau, Yufang Gao ’14 MESc, ’23 PhD interviews, observes, and travels with Tibetan herders and Buddhist monks. He sets up camera traps and collects scat to analyze the diet of snow leopards. And he has hiked a mountainside 15,000 feet above sea level — all in pursuit of data for his dissertation focused on the quest for harmonious coexistence between people and large carnivores. What is needed for human-wildlife coexistence is a different perspective about conflict, Gao says. “Conflict,” he has found, “is part of coexistence.”
Tracking Environmental and Infrastructure Damage in Ukraine
As co-leader of Black Marble, NASA’s light dataset, Eleanor Stokes '18 PhD is currently tracking the effects of Russian military strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure and climate-induced natural disasters across the world. NASA’s Black Marble science team, which uses data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite aboard NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite spacecraft to map disaster impacts in vulnerable communities, was awarded the 2020 NASA Group Achievement Award for helping realize the vision of the NASA-ESA-JAXA COVID dashboard and enabling international partnership in a time of need. “Humanity is facing major global risks from extreme weather and rising sea levels,” Stokes says. “It’s very important to have a satellite record that can speak to the human piece of the puzzle.
Keeping Bhutan Carbon Neutral
To make good on its constitutional mandate to be the first carbon neutral country for its entire existence, Bhutan relies heavily on its forest cover. Dechen Dorji ’01 MEM led the Bhutan for Life initiative, which raised more than $40 million to finance the protection of the country’s pristine network of protected areas.
Dorji continues to work on land preservation and protection of endangered species as the World Wildlife Fund’s senior director for the Asian Wildlife Program.
Empowering Young Leaders
In July, Indonesia hosted the Y20 Summit, an annual gathering of youth leaders from G20 nations. This year's summit emphasized a sustainable and livable planet, and its recommendations will be presented at the upcoming G20 Summit in November. Caroline Tasirin ’19 MFS — a lecturer in the forestry program at Indonesia’s Sam Ratulangi University and co-founder of SULUT Semangat, a program that empowers Indonesian youths to connect with nature — represented the host nation and served as co-chair of the selection committee for Indonesia. “I'm proud to have contributed my insight and honored to collaborate with diverse youth leaders,” she says.
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