The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) has selected six graduate students as Andrew Sabin International Environmental Fellows, with each Fellow receiving up to $40,000 of funding for their education and post-graduate service in the environmental sector.
The 2019 Sabin Fellows are Sandra Chiri Vargas ’20 M.E.M. (Peru), Daniela Hoyos Gaviria ’20 M.E.M. (Colombia), Paul Hatanga ’20 M.E.M. (Uganda), James Ndung’u ’20 M.E.M. (Kenya), Shrabya Timsina ’20 M.F.S. (Nepal), and Lysa Uwizeyimana ’20 M.E.M. (Rwanda).
Started in 2011 by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, the fellowship provides scholarship support for students from developing countries, and postgraduate awards to those students returning to their home countries and regions to pursue environmental careers. Each Fellow is eligible to receive tuition assistance of up to $20,000 and another $20,000 in post-graduation awards within 18 months of graduation.
Since its inception, 60 F&ES students have received this fellowship, many of whom have since returned to their home countries to work on conservation, forestry, climate change, biodiversity, wildlife, and agricultural issues.
About the 2019 Sabin Fellows:
Sandra Chiri Vargas enrolled at F&ES after serving with the Peru Ministry of Environment’s National Program for Forest Conservation, where she worked directly with indigenous communities to help conserve their rainforests and promote sustainable development. She has seen firsthand the challenges that can undermine the Ministry’s efforts to conserve its mega-diverse ecosystems, including budget limitations, unclear forest land tenure, and weak surveillance and control of illegal activities. But she also believes these challenges can be overcome through strategic decision-making and innovative proposals. She came to Yale to strengthen her own skills and knowledge in order to become a leader in addressing these challenges. She aims to work in the government sphere, where she hopes to broaden the scope of Peru’s institutions and help promote intervention strategies that target regional objectives while still addressing local concerns.
Daniela Hoyos Gaviria aims to become a facilitator between the private and public sector in order to promote sustainable practices in Colombia. While Colombia has been rated the second-most biodiverse country in the world — and boasts the most amphibian species — a booming middle class and inefficient waste practices pose a threat to this irreplaceable landscape, she says. She wants to provide the kind of leadership needed to promote more sustainable business practices. Her goal is to foster partnerships with the private sector and promote new regulations and incentives to better involve this sector in environmental protection — such as innovative systems to reduce waste, taxes that encourage more efficient resource use, and improved circular economy systems, and innovation.
Shrabya Timsina is a life-long scholar of traditions, history, and biology whose curiosities have converged on his ancestral region of Karnali. Before F&ES, he familiarized himself with international organizations and local cultural institutions active in Nepal through work and study. At F&ES, his research has focused on understanding the distribution of Karnali’s flora that are associated with rich healing traditions. After graduation, he hopes to promote the establishment of community- and small-holder controlled agrarian and forest infrastructure to achieve self-reliance, cultural revitalization and ecosystem-protection in Nepal.
Paul Hatanga ’20 M.E.M. was a project coordinator for the Uganda Biodiversity Trust Fund of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which presented him with the Tellus Leadership Award that provided initial funding for him to attend F&ES. His passion for wildlife conservation stirred him to work on projects to save Chimpanzees in Uganda, an experience he extremely treasures. His study interests lie at the intersection of conservation and economic development, areas of concern as much of the African continent seeks to improve its infrastructure. This semester, Hatanga was part of an independent study focused on the environmental impact of China’s Belt and Road initiative on East Africa, and he will continue his own research this summer on the socio-ecological effects of road construction in Uganda’s Key Biodiversity Areas. He believes his findings will be valuable for governmental organizations and NGOs in Uganda, where Hatanga hopes to return upon graduation to continue his work and be with his family.
James Ndung’u ’20 M.E.M. was a research consultant for Grassroot Organizations Operation Together in Sisterhood (GROOTS) in Kenya, a nationwide movement of women-led community-based organizations that address poverty, food security, energy, and climate change adaptation. Kenya has experienced tremendous growth in infrastructure, health and industrialization, but many rural areas remain without adequate and affordable access to energy, water and food. Ndung’u hopes to work with those rural areas on the environment and development upon graduation, supporting policies that promote sustainable development and proper environmental resource management. He’ll take his next step toward that goal this summer, conducting an energy access assessment in Kiambu County, hosted by GROOTS Kenya and the County Government of Kiambu.
Lysa Uwizeyimana ’20 M.E.M. specializes in climate change mitigation and adaptation with a focus on developing countries, skills she honed as an environmental engineer and consultant for an environmental consulting firm in Rwanda. One of her major projects was helping draft the strategic environmental assessment of the mining industry in Rwanda with the goal of formulating recommendations for the country’s Ministry of Environment. Uwizeyimana enrolled at F&ES to study climate change science and solutions and expects to intern this summer at a U.S.-based organization working to assist businesses to set science-based targets and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This year, she joined The Forests Dialogue at Yale where she is organizing a dialogue around the restoration of a degraded landscape in Mangai, DRC. Upon graduation, she expects to return to Kigali to work for a multilateral organization or for an East Africa-based environmental and social consulting firm.