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New Bekenstein Climate Leaders Program Aims to Expand Pathways to High-Impact Climate Careers

An exciting gift from Anita and Joshua Bekenstein ’80 to the Yale School of the Environment will establish a university-wide program to increase the ranks of Yale graduates in climate leadership roles and accelerate the pace of climate action.

YSE News

Matthew Kotchen
Q & A

Are We Ready for a Global Carbon Tax?

YSE Professor of Economics Matthew Kotchen discusses the viability of Africa’s call for a global carbon tax — the benefits and substantial roadblocks. 


MESC Program

Exploring Natural Climate Solutions

Wetlands are the largest natural source of methane on earth. As a YSE student, Ben Girgenti '22 MESc investigated whether adding iron or basalt to soil potentially could reduce methane emissions from wetlands.

Faculty Research

Biomass Loss in the Amazon and Global Warming

Tropical ecosystems store over half the world’s above-ground carbon in their biomass. Associate Professor Paulo Brando describes how the loss of climate change-induced tropical forest biomass could accelerate global warming.

Student Research

Research Day 2023

Research Day is an opportunity for all students in the YSE research community to come together to share their thought-provoking work. See highlights from Research Day 2023.

On the Record

When it comes to the climate crisis, the urgency of this moment is unparalleled. YSE and the Bekenstein Climate Leaders program are stepping up to the challenge by helping to ensure that Yale graduates have the financial ability to focus their expertise on solving it.”

Shereen D’Souza ’12 MESc Senior Program Officer for Climate, Skyline Foundation

News in Brief

Three YSE Faculty Included on List of ‘Highly Cited Researchers’ 

Three Yale School of the Environment faculty members have been named to the world’s most influential researchers list by Clarivate Analytics, a company that compiles a list of scientists and social scientists whose papers rank in the top 1% of citations.

Included in this year’s list were Mark Bradford, professor of soils and ecosystem ecology; Karen Seto, the Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science; and Anthony Leiserowitz, founder and director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC). In total, 48 faculty members from Yale University made the list of 6,849 researchers worldwide.

Bradford’s research focuses on the health, biology, ecology, and carbon storage potential of forest, grassland, and agricultural soils. More specifically, his work develops knowledge that helps predict how environmental change and management will affect the rates of carbon stabilization and decomposition processes, and how the size of soil organic carbon stores changes in space and time. 

Seto is a world-renowned expert on urbanization, integrating remote sensing, modeling methods, and field interviews to study urbanization and land change, forecast urban growth, and examine environmental consequences of urban expansion. The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) recently selected Seto as one 30 new foreign academicians. Academician is the highest academic title in China, and foreign academician is the highest honorary title awarded to foreign scholars and experts who have made significant contributions to the field of science and technology in China, and who hold a high academic status internationally. CAS selects 30 foreign members every two years, and there are only 154 foreign academicians in total.  Seto has been a coordinating author on two U.N. climate change reports, including the urban mitigation chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment released in 2022. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a lifetime member of the United States Council on Foreign Relations.

Leiserowitz is one of the world’s foremost voices in climate change communications, gathering information on the public perception of climate change and environmental beliefs, attitudes, and behavior at multiple scales. In 2021, he was ranked as the second most influential climate scientist in the world by Reuters. 

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Mark Bradford

Professor, Soils and Ecosystem Ecology

Anthony Leiserowitz

Senior Research Scientist, Lecturer, and Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC)

Karen C. Seto

Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science, Director of the Hixon Center for Urban Sustainability

YSE-Trained Scientists Win EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Award

Air Company, a carbon utilization startup whose scientific leadership team has done pioneering research at the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering (CGCGE) at Yale, received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Chemistry Challenge Award for Climate Change. The team was recognized for the development a  groundbreaking technology that transforms carbon dioxide captured from industrial plants and hydrogen from water into sustainable aviation fuel, ethanol, and methanol.

The company projects that its Airmade technology, if scaled, could avoid 10.8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of more than 4.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Its sustainable aviation fuel life cycle CO2 emissions are over 90% lower than traditional jet fuel.

The Air Company team includes co-founders Gregory Constantine and Stafford Sheehan ’13 MS, PhD ’16; Mahlet Garedew; Chi Chen PhD ’16; Pat Ward, and Paul Anastas, director of CGCGE and Teresa and H. John Heinz III Chair in Chemistry for the Environment, who serves as the company’s science advisor. Sheehan and Garedew were both postdoctoral associates at CGCGE. They were honored during an awards ceremony held on October 23, 2023, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

"Yale must be proud of producing people like Drs. Sheehan, Chi Chen, and Mahlet Garedew, who have shown you can go from invention to impact so quickly with solutions to such major problems," Anastas said. "I’m just happy to be part of this team with people who have dedicated their brilliance to making the world better through green chemistry."

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winners of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Chemistry Challenge Award

From left: Pat Ward, Paul Anastas, Gregory Constantine, Mahlet Garedew, and Stafford Sheehan of Air Company are honored with EPA's Green Chemistry Challenge Award at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., on October 23, 2023. Credit: Eric Vance/US Environmental Protection Agency

Paul Anastas

Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment

Canadian Wildfires Impacted Health of Residents Hundreds of Miles Away

This summer's record-setting wildfires in Canada caused unhealthy air quality in New York City and increased the amount of asthma-related emergency room visits, a new Yale study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

Previous studies on wildfire have mostly focused on the impact of populations residing nearby. The Yale study, co-authored by YSE’s Michelle Bell, Mary E. Pinchot Professor of Environmental Health, found that emergency department visits in New York City related to asthma syndrome increased by nearly 44% during a three-day wildfire smoke wave from the Canadian fires that were hundreds of miles away. As wildfires become more frequent and larger in recent years as a result of a warming climate,  public health officials should develop early warning systems to alert the public to wildfire smoke events and provide guidance to protect vulnerable populations, the authors recommend.

“The air quality impacts of wildfires are widespread, as are the subsequent public health burdens,” Bell said in a statement to CT Pubilc Radio.

The study was led by Kai Chen, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), Yiqun Ma, a doctoral student at YSPH, and Wan Yang, of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

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New York City encased in smoke from wildfires in Canada

Michelle L. Bell

Mary E. Pinchot Professor of Environmental Health

Dorceta Taylor Highlighted in National Portrait Gallery Exhibit

Dorceta Taylor ’85 MFS, ’91 PhD, senior associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion and professor of environmental justice, will be among more than 25 U.S. environmental leaders featured in an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery that traces the history of the environmental movement from early 20th century conservationism to present-day action on environmental justice, biodiversity, and climate. Her portrait, which is being painted to mark the occasion, will be on view along with Rachel Carson, George Washington Carver, Maya Lin, Henry David Thoreau, Edward O. Wilson and others. 

Taylor is one of the nation’s leading environmental justice scholars and activists. Her landmark book, “The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection,” documents how racial, class, and gender dynamics shaped the formation and evolution of the conservation and environmental movements from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. 

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be included in this exhibit and to be considered among the thought leaders on a topic of such import. From the earliest days of the emergence of American pro-environmental thought and activism, conscious efforts were made to shun many people who could contribute to environmental activism. This exhibit is important because it recognizes diverse peoples and perspectives as foundational to the vitality of the past and future environmental movement,” Taylor says.

Forces of Nature: Voices that Shaped Environmentalism” will be on view at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., from October 20, 2023, through September 2, 2024.

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Framed portrait of Taylor hanging in the National Gallery

Dorceta Taylor

Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Professor of Environmental Justice

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