Three F&ESers Named Switzer Fellows

Three students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) have been named recipients of Switzer Environmental Fellowships, a prestigious program that supports future environmental leaders.
Maria Martinez ’19 M.E.M., Lindsay Olsen ’19 M.E.M., and Sara Santiago ’19 M.F., are among 20 students to receive the honor.
The environmental fellowship program is a core program of the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation, a nonprofit organization that invests in individuals and organizations that drive positive environmental change across a range of disciplines. Fellows are selected from universities across New England and California.
switzer fellows 2018 yale
Maria Martinez (left), Lindsay Olsen, and Sara Santiago
Recipients receive a $15,000 award for academic study and leadership training. The Yale scholars also join a network of nearly 650 Fellows located across the U.S. and the world.
Coming from diverse social, academic, and economic backgrounds, the Switzer fellows “are on the leading edge of environmental and social change through efforts in environmental science, policy, conservation, environmental justice, public health, economics, journalism, urban planning, business, law and more.”
Maria Martinez, who is pursuing a Master of Environmental Management degree at F&ES, studies urban resilience and climate policy. In particular, her research focuses on applications of policy and public finance mechanisms that build climate resilience in coastal communities. Through her research and advocacy, she hopes to bring innovative solutions that adapt vulnerable communities to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, where she studied political science and sustainability studies. Before coming to Yale, she worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, D.C. She was also part of the leadership team for DC Divest, a local grassroots organization that successfully advocated for a citywide resolution to divest the District’s public pension funds from fossil fuel companies. After graduation she hopes to return to public service in local government to promote policies that foster resilient, sustainable, and equitable cities.
Lindsay Olsen, who is also pursuing a Master of Environmental Management degree, has focused her work on the nexus of conservation and development. She is a passionate advocate for the needs of natural resource-dependent communities threatened by climate change. A native of Alaska, she spent the first decade of her career on the back deck of a commercial salmon fishing boat in western Alaska — most recently as part of an all-women crew.
A graduate of Williams College, she is particularly interested in the role social enterprise can play in solving environmental challenges. At Yale, she has assisted organizations in both Indonesia and Zambia that are using market mechanisms to provide alternative livelihoods to individuals driven by poverty into activities that result in deforestation and wildlife poaching. She believes that solutions to climate change must come from cross-cultural, collaborative, and community-based approaches.
Sara Santiago, who is pursuing a Master of Forestry degree, aims to combine social and ecological perspectives into interdisciplinary solutions that address the challenges at the intersection of agricultural development and forest conservation in Latin America. One of her main interests is examining the question of how to manage degraded lands, whether it involves allowing secondary forest regeneration, active restoration, or promoting alternative forms of sustainable agriculture. A native of Puerto Rico, she has focused on forest and agricultural recovery in Cuba and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
A graduate of Ohio State University, where she earned a B.A. in Geography and International Studies, she has worked for the International Institute of Tropical Forestry at the U.S. Forest Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she focused on conservation education. Before that she managed the forestry program at a San Francisco-based nonprofit, guiding corporations and NGOs in engaging stakeholders on forest conservation policies in pulp and paper, and palm oil, supply chains. She is currently serving as president of the Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters (ISTF).