Iyer portrait
Three Cairns Scholars

Mahica Iyer, United Arab Emirates

Goal: Engage in sustainable business and development projects that empower local communities

Ever since she was a child, Mahica Iyer ’25 MEM has straddled two worlds: She grew up amid the glittering towers of Dubai, UAE. The community in her hometown of Mumbai, meanwhile, experienced frequent power outages, a scarcity of clean water, and poor waste management. Iyer later attended college in Illinois and then went on to work as a consultant in supply chain sustainability.

There, too, she observed a vast gulf “between the entities accountable for environmental harm and the communities directly impacted by the consequences of such actions,” she says. “This gap underscores a fundamental disconnect between accountability and responsibility within environmental stewardship” — a gap that is echoed more generally in the divide between the Global North and Global South, she says.

As a master’s degree student, Iyer is concentrating on ways to eliminate this gap. She envisions one day starting a nonprofit that works on two fronts: supporting greater accountability and reform among companies and countries that are responsible for environmental harms while also working to empower those on the other side who are most vulnerable to and affected by these harms.

“In India, I hope to focus on communities like my own that have long been exploited and face immense environmental risks,” she says. “I am motivated by the balance of equitable climate solutions that prioritize the communities currently sacrificing their land, labor, and health.”

Meet the 2024-25 Three Cairns Scholars

Ananya Rao

Ananya Rao

'25 MESc India
Singh portrair

Srishti Singh

'25 MEM India
Benedicta Frimpomaa Asiedu

Benedicta Asiedu

'25 MEM Ghana
Lucia Castellares

Lucía Castellares Tello

'25 MEM Perú
Jorge Forero

Jorge Andrés Forero Fajardo

'25 MEM Colombia
Iyer portrait

Mahica Iyer

'25 MEM United Arab Emirates