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Rehabilitating Ghana’s Forests
After a decade as director of operations for Ghana’s Forestry Commission, overseeing the country’s commercial forest plantation development and land restoration, Hugh Brown ’10 MF was named executive director of the Commission's Forest Services Division in 2022.
In 2020, Brown was given YSE’s Prospect Street Award, which recognizes a graduate of the last decade who has made a significant impact in their field.
“Landscape restoration,’’ says Brown, “is a team sport.”
Insights from the Night Sky
Using data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite aboard NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite spacecraft, Eleanor Stokes ’18 PhD is mapping disaster impacts in vulnerable communities. As co-leader of Black Marble, NASA’s first nighttime light dataset, Stokes has helped FEMA and other relief organizations direct their boots-on-the ground operations after natural disasters. “Humanity is facing major global risks from extreme weather and rising sea levels,” she says. “It’s very important to have a satellite record that can speak to the human piece of the puzzle.”
Working to Make the Midwest Greener and Cleaner
As the climate solutions director at Clean Wisconsin, a nonprofit whose mission is to fight for clean air and water in the state, Chelsea Chandler ’10 MEM is working to protect one of Wisconsin’s most effective programs: Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency program.
By helping people buy efficient lightbulbs or tune up their grain dryers, Focus on Energy has been an enormous success, and Chandler says that evaluations of the program have consistently shown huge returns for the investments.
Preserving China’s Biodiversity
As the executive director of the Shan Shui Conservation Center in China, Irene Xiangying Shi ’13 MESC is helping conservation efforts in the Tibetan Plateau and southern regions. The Center focuses its work on urban ecosystems and endangered species, such as giant pandas and snow leopards.
“If we have the right incentives,” she says, “people will conserve nature in the best way." Her efforts have helped build a biodiversity conservation alliance, an information sharing platform on biodiversity, and long-term funding mechanisms to continue work on these issues.
Indigenous Restoration Approaches
As co-founder and executive director of Shelterwood, Nikola Alexandre ’18 MF, MBA leads the restoration of a 900-acre forest in Northern California with Black and Indigenous community approaches to land care.
His work creates partnerships with and between traditional conservation NGOs, Indigenous and racial justice organizations, government agencies, and private landowners to model socially just and ecologically sound pathways to protecting and restoring nature. In 2020, Alexandre was named a Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award candidate for his work.
Restoring Belize’s Landscapes
Ki’ila Salas ’19 MF returned to her home country of Belize to participate in its first landscape restoration initiative, helping to develop its National Landscape Restoration Strategy for the Belize Forest Department. The project is part of the country’s national restoration commitment to the Bonn Challenge, which has a global goal to bring 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes into restoration by 2030.
“The project gave me great pride and joy in guiding the process of how the restoration strategies should be accomplished,” says Salas.
Tracking Bear Movements
After Rae Wynn-Grant ’10 MESc studied bears in the Nevada mountains, the National Geographic Society sent her to conduct similar work with the American Prairie Reserve in the grasslands of Montana — a region where bears are not common.
The nonprofit is seeking create a national wildlife refuge. Wynn-Grant began working with carnivores while at YSE, tracking lions in Tanzania. She has leaned on her expertise to predict which habitats will attract bears, using state and federal data and camera traps to monitor bear movements and habitats.
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