Alumni

Our Climate Change & Society alumni have moved on to a variety of careers. Their paths have led them to work in communications, education, government, scientific and policy tracks, among others. Some examples include NOAA RISA, Mecklenburg County, Forest Service, Sierra Club, University of Connecticut. Others have chosen to remain in their current careers with enhanced knowledge about climate change and society.

A number of our students have also chosen to continue post-graduate studies at NC State as well as other institutions such as University of Connecticut.


Testimonials

Leah Kos, Climate Change & Society Alumni

NC State’s One-year MS in Climate Change & Society is a highly rewarding program, providing students with the tools and experiences needed to succeed in the field of climate science. The effective blend of technical and applied courses, along with the invaluable capstone project, are unique characteristics that set this program aside from others. With a meteorology background grounded in technical science, the CCS program was critical in developing and expanding my climate science communication and outreach skills. I am especially grateful for my capstone opportunity where I worked with the City of Nags Head to help reduce overwash vulnerability to their transportation sector, as the knowledge and firsthand experience working with stakeholders was critical in preparing me for my former position as the Climate Assessment Specialist for the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP). SCIPP is a NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) team, and works to increase resiliency and preparedness to weather and climate extremes across the South Central United States. My work focused on the assessment of stakeholder risk and vulnerability to these events, and how the use of climate hazard data can better meet the needs of users in decision making and adaptation efforts. The CCS program provided me with the right skills and experiences to excel in my career and I often apply the knowledge and lessons learned in my work.

Lisa currently works as Communications Manager for the USC Sea Grant


2024 Graduates

Alayna Moore

Background: Biology at Barton College

ACE: ESRI’s StoryMap program to create a visual resource for the Southeast Chapter of the 5th National Climate Assessment


2023 Graduates

Catherine Edbrooke
Background: Marine Sciences with a concentration in Biological Oceanography and minors in Spanish and Biology at NC State

ACE: The Effectiveness Of Arima And Sarimax Models In Predicting Sea Level Rise, hosted by Dr. Clayton Greenberg, University of Pennsylvania, AI Mentor, InspiritAI Innovators


Claire Jackson

Background: Business at Franklin and Marshall College

ACE: North Carolina State University: Planning for Climate Resilience

 Claire currently works as a Senior Advisory Analyst for Abrigo


Vanadeep Kaluvagunta

Background: Physics BS, MS and PhD from Sri Venkateswara University and an MS in Meteorology from Bircham International University

ACE: Feasibility of Employing Condensation Nuclei, Cloud Seeding Techniques, and Hydroxyl Molecule’s Atmospheric Oxidation Property to Mitigate the Concentration and Negative Impacts of Wildfire Smoke and Particulate Matter in Ambient Air


Sarah Thomas

Background: Nursing from the University of Scranton

ACE: Climate Change and Human Health, hosted by Duke Urgent Care Holly Springs

Sarah is currently working on another degree


Addie Thornton

Background: Natural Resource Policy and Administration from NC State University

ACE: Military Resilience Clinic and Consortium: Advancing Department of Defense Landscape-Scale Climate Adaptation and Resilience Capacity

Addie currently works as the Project Director at the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS)


Sara Jarvis Earle

Background: Environmental Sustainability and Public Health from Meredith College

ACE: The Increase in Wildfire Hazards and the Health Effects of Wildfire Plumes on Public Health as Related to Climate Change, hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency

Sara is currently studying to become a pilot


Oppong Hemeng

Background: Political Science and Government BS from the University of Houston and an MS in Sport and Fitness Administration/Management from the University of Florida

ACE: Evaluate the environmental impacts of the aviation industry to develop a sustainability strategic plan for a private aviation start- up company Jet It, hosted by Jet It

Oppong currently works as a Principal Advisor for the TMH group


Carl Parker

Background:  Broadcast meteorologist since 1991, BS In Geosciences from Mississippi State University

ACE: Applying the Principles of Effective Science Communication in Developing a Climate Change Presentation for General Audiences, hosted by Dr. Jay Levine of NC State University y

Carl currently works as a Storm Specialist/Climate Specialist at the Weather Channel


Emily Shaw

Background: History and Teaching License for grades 6 through 12 from UNC-Asheville

ACE: Improving Communication & Engagement for the University Sustainability Office, hosted by the NC State Sustainability Office

Emily is currently a Social Studies teacher at FernLeaf Community Charter School in Asheville, NC


2022 Graduates

Jarod Bailey

Background: Biology BS from Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis

ACE: A Review: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Endocrine Health Implications in a Changing Climate

Jarod currently works as Physical Scientist in the U.S. EPA Office of Air and Radiation


Max Cawley

Background: Environmental Science BS from Guilford College

ACE: Imagine Durham: A Collaboration on Climate, Equity, and Humanities Engagement
Between the Museum of Life and Science and Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC

Max currently works as a Program Manager for Public Engagement with Science at the Museum of Life and Science


Grace Egly

Background: Environmental Science with a minor in landscape architecture from NC State University.

ACE: Viability Analysis of Renewable Energy Sources to Decarbonize North Carolina

Grace currently works as a Buyer for Strata Solar


Kristen Fontana

Background: Natural Resources Policy and Administration BS with a minor in Environmental Science from NC State University

ACE: Understanding Various Perceptions of Climate Change to Pursue Effective Climate Action

Kristen is a recipient of our Women in STEM Scholarship. She currently works as a University Program Specialist for the NC State Global One Health Academy


Stephanie Kelly
As a North Carolina native, I was privileged to grow up exploring and enjoying the state’s rich biodiversity and landscapes, while dichotomously, witnessing its rapid transformation in the wake of population booms and urbanization.  This sparked my interest in sustainable design and decision to become a landscape architect.  Once in the workforce, I quickly discovered that sustainability was not widely understood or embraced, so I channeled my passion into creating professional sustainability initiatives and events.  In 2014, I married and moved to the coast, where I have experienced dangerous extreme weather anomalies every year since.  After learning about the Masters of Climate Change & Society and Post-Professional Masters of Landscape Architecture now offered at State, I felt compelled to return to school part-time to pursue a dual-masters, where I am focusing my studies on an interdisciplinary approach to ecosystem service and resilient site design strategies and policies, with an emphasis on coastal communities.  I am so excited to gain the climate change science and communication foundation the CCS program offers, and for the opportunity to redirect my career path, so that I can better serve the interdisciplinary effort in addressing this global crisis!

Stephanie was a Global Change Fellow with the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center 2021-2022 and currently works as a freelance Independent Consultant, PLA


Mirren Hill
I have always had an interest in environmental conservation and climate change. Ever since I was little, I was the girl with the “go green” T-shirt and peace sign necklace. 5 years ago, I decided to take the leap to become vegetarian for conservation reasons. It gives me a little piece of mind knowing that this change in lifestyle ensures I have lowered my carbon footprint. I have also always had an interest in nature, outer space and anything earth science related. I love to travel and it is a goal of mine to visit every US National Park! To follow that passion, I earned my undergraduate degree in Geosciences with minors in Geology and Women’s/Gender Studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in spring 2020. While there, I came to the realization that the courses I took on global change and climatology were my favorite, where I felt the most passion. I wanted to pursue that area in my graduate studies so it was perfect that I came across the Climate Change and Society program at NC State. I grew up in Cary, North Carolina so the Raleigh area is already home to me. As I have a science background, I am looking forward to learning more about policy, policy change and how we can implement those into society to really start to see some improvement, as well as communication to the public to make major steps in the right direction.

Mirren currently works as a Park Operations Specialist for the City of Raleigh Municipal Government


Veronika Maynard-Simon
I grew up very close to nature through my family having a vineyard and a large vegetable garden. After I moved to the US, I earned a Bachelor degree in Germanic Languages and Literatures with the concentration of Central European Studies. My husband and I started our first vegetable garden ten years ago and I learned so much about the amazing benefits of gardening on climate change including permaculture, companion planting, and pollinating gardens. Additionally, our no till and hugelkultur practices, also composting and cover crop practices are increasing carbon sequestration, trapping CO2 in the soil. . I also began educating my co-workers at NC State Transportation by planning and leading an Earth Month Challenge for the full month of April in 2019.  As a result, collectively as a department, we reduced our electricity usage and participants became more environmentally conscious in their habits. I continued my sustainability initiatives, which resulted in a surprising NC State Sustainability Award this February. This inspired me to research sustainability master’s degrees and I was very excited when I found the Climate Change & Society Masters’ program. I am looking forward to learning more about how to communicate sustainability initiatives to be able to facilitate long term and deep changes we need.

Veronika currently works as a Multifamily & Commercial Energy Efficiency Team Coordinator at Southern Energy Management 


Brittany Salmons
My interest in climate change began with it’s impact on natural ecological systems but evolved to understanding how much of an impact humans had on the climate and the earth itself. I began my academic journey thinking that I would major in environmental science but I was drawn more to the decisions and actions that humans, throughout time, have taken to improve their own lives and the lives of others. A lot of these decisions, however, were based on a transcendentalist view of nature as infinite and unchanging. This outlook has become even more dangerous with increased development and the burning of fossil fuels. I believe in understanding how humans have understood and utilized the environment in the past in order to educate and improve the environment and how it is used by society today.  With this in mind, I decided to major in history and minor in environmental science in my undergraduate career and am now furthering my understanding of climate change and society through this program.

Brittany currently works as a Communications Associate for the National Audubon Society


Nicholas Shanahan
When I started back at college as an older adult, I decided I would chart my academic path by simply following my interests. The first subject to capture my imagination was geology, which sparked a greater love for environmental sciences. At the same time, I began to look more seriously at the issue of climate change, and once I had started I could see the connections and the potential for disruption nearly everywhere. It seemed to me that there was a yawning gap between what the science was telling us, and our collective response to this knowledge. I decided to pursue this avenue further by getting my bachelor’s in Sustainable Development with a minor in Geography from Appalachian State University, where I also worked for the Office of Sustainable Development. When I started my academic career at 31 years old, I was determined from the beginning to see it through to a master’s degree, and the Climate Change and Society program at NCSU seemed tailor made for my interests and aspirations. Studying climate change and its implications for society is a sobering undertaking, yet at the same time I am energized by the timeliness and relevance of the issue and excited to be involved in a field that will allow me to pursue knowledge and understanding for the rest of my career. With regards to the climate emergency, what we do collectively in the coming decades will have reverberative effects for several generations. I can think of no other field to which I would rather dedicate myself.

Nicholas currently works as a Outreach and Engagement Specialist at North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies


Emma Zawacki
Whether it was a desert in my backyard or a breathtaking mountainous valley, I have always had a reverence for nature. Humans being nature ourselves, I have always thought that sustainability is a way of life. Uncertain what I wanted to do with my professional career however, I received my bachelors in communications with a minor in psychology from the College of New Jersey in 2020. But the strong pull to work on climate change persisted and grew. Over the pandemic, I worked at a sustainability themed podcast titled Who’s Saving the Planet where I was introduced to all kinds of professionals who were trying their best in their own sector to reverse climate change and promote sustainability. Eager to join their ranks, I found this CCS program that gives me the science background necessary to combine with my love for communication and launch myself into some of my dream careers. I’m excited to see what this program will teach me about the planet and myself.

Emma currently works as a Major Gifts Coordinator at the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City


2021 Graduates

Susanne Cooper
For as long as I can remember, my life has centered around water and the woods. I grew up in Central Virginia, attending canoe camps and swimming competitively through my first year at William & Mary, where I majored in English.  My professional journey took me to Capitol Hill for two years as a legislative assistant to Congressman Hal Rogers (Ky), where I tracked legislation in education, agriculture, and housing. In Southeastern Kentucky, I saw first-hand the impact of coal mining on the environment and people. I earned an M Ed in Counseling from UVA and spent 13 years in Title 1 schools in Virginia and North Carolina.  I worked with children from rural and urban environments, migrant and military families, from wealth and from poverty. Most recently, I’ve been the head coach of a swim team. I’ve traveled with my family to other countries and have seen their approaches and attitudes toward climate change.  These experiences and an environmentally-oriented reading list have led to a desire to apply counseling theories to the conversations held between environmentalists, government officials, and local stakeholders in our communities.  I am looking forward to the Climate Change and Society program at NC State as a way of combining my various skills to address the challenges faced by our changing world.


Nicole Esch
I have always known I wanted to have a career in science. From collecting “tree stars” in the woods as a kid (Land BeforeTime anyone?), to majoring in Biology and Journalism in my undergrad career at UNC Chapel Hill, I have always taken steps to make that happen. Along the way I discovered a love for writing, photography, and communication as well as a desire to help close the gap between science and minority communities. Though I use my spare time to pursue slightly selfish hobbies like bodybuilding and cooking, I hope my career will allow me to serve the public. I believe that NC State will give me the necessary tools to make me an apt communicator and a well-informed scientist.

Nicole currently works as a Research Specialist in the Plant and Microbial Biology Department at NC State University.


Ryan Eldridge
I have always known I wanted to have a career in science. From collecting “tree stars” in the woods as a kid (Land Before Time anyone?), to majoring in Biology and Journalism in my undergrad career at UNC Chapel Hill, I have always taken steps to make that happen. Along the way I discovered a love for writing, photography, and communication as well as a desire to help close the gap between science and minority communities. Though I use my spare time to pursue slightly selfish hobbies like bodybuilding and cooking, I hope my career will allow me to serve the public. I believe that NC State will give me the necessary tools to make me an apt communicator and a well-informed scientist.

Ryan currently works as a Transportation Planner with Triangle J Council of Governments


Kimberly Kirkhart
I have always been drawn to climate change science and especially the sustainability aspect of the environment. After finishing my undergraduate degree in business finance and working in accounting, I decided I wanted to pursue something more impactful. I’d like to incorporate my undergraduate experience and past professional experience with my passion for climate. Businesses and corporations hold a large responsibility to the environment and it is important to keep them accountable and ensure their commitment to best practices is known. This has motivated me to pursue the Climate Change and Society program to actively create a more sustainable future through holding corporations accountable for their environmental impact.

Kimberly currently works as a Financial Analyst at Environment Resources Management (ERM)


Daniel Pantaleo
When I started my undergraduate degree in Public Health at the University at Buffalo, I was quickly drawn towards the environmental side of public health and was fascinated by the strong impact your environment has on your health. Climate change is currently one of the most significant public health crises, affecting people across the globe and will only continue to get worse unless something is done soon. From the CCS program, I hope to further understand the science behind climate change and the effects it may have on populations so I can share my knowledge with others and help to protect vulnerable populations.

Daniel currently works as an Environmental Technician at Smith Gardner, Inc.


Andrew Webb
I found my passion for climate change and sustainability through my combined interest and experience in science and social justice issues. Having grown up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and working in outdoor adventure, I have a deep appreciation for nature and the environment. Scientifically however, my interest in astrophysics propelled me through my undergraduate degree in physics at Valparaiso University, where I gained experience in planetary nebulae and galactic research. Furthermore, over the past several years I have gained an intense interest in multiculturalism and international issues, which sent me to several countries around the world, including Senegal, where I lived and volunteered for a year. During this time I heard a call to learn about several intersecting social justice issues, including climate change. This CCS program is where all my interests and past experience merge, where I hope to learn more about climate change communication, better understand climate science, and navigate environmental policy in order to help shape the world into a more sustainable system on several levels.

Andrew currently works as a  PhD Graduate Assistant at Northern Arizona University


2020 Graduates

Jane Allen
Since beginning my undergraduate degree, I have been both fascinated and alarmed by the way humans have interacted with their environment. I received my bachelor’s degree in Environmental & Sustainability Studies from University of Northern Colorado and now continue my education in the CCS program in an effort to better understand the climate crisis and what can be done about it. I am particularly interested in learning how to improve resiliency and adaptation for both the most vulnerable ecosystems and human populations in the face of extreme weather events and climatic changes.

Jane currently works as the Assistant Director of Climate & Energy Resilience at The Alliance Center in Denver, CO.


Jared Belvin

Having lived in a small town on the southeast coast of Virginia my entire life, I spent most of my time on or near the water. From a young age I quickly realized that most activities I enjoyed doing (fishing, kayaking, boating, etc.) relied almost entirely on the weather being reasonable. This realization lead me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Meteorology at Virginia Tech. With my background being on more of the science side, I now look continue my education in the CCS program at NC State to gain more knowledge on the policy side of assessing environmental phenomena.

Jared currently works as a Logistics Account Executive at Total Quality Logistics


David Glas

Background: Psychology BS from the University of North Carolina Wilmington

ACE: Improving Communication Strategies for Conveying Flood Risk

David currently works as a Climate Resilience Analyst for Climate Resilience Data Development and Analysis at EPA Office of Research and Development


Madison Teeter

Background: Political Science BS from NC State

ACE: Improving Communication Strategies for Conveying Flood Risk

Madison currently works  as a Resilience Specialist for Arcadis


Phillip Martin

Background: Science Technology and Society BS from NC State

ACE: Shifts in Perspectives on Biogenic Carbon Accounting

Phillip currently works  as a County Executive Director Trainee at the USDA Farm Service Agency for Harnett County, NC.


Casey (Nelson) Kirby

Background: English BA from UNC-Chapel Hill and Science Technology and Society BS from NC State. During my time at NC State

ACE: The Paradox of Climate Change Communication: A Case Study in Framing Natural Disasters

Casey currently works as an Environmental Analyst for Circle K.


2019 Graduates

Albana Berisha

Background: Environmental and Agricultural Management BS from the International Business College Mitrovica, Mediterranean Organic Agriculture MS from the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari

ACE: Risk Analysis for importations of Fruit flies (Family: Tephritidae) through non-commercial
commodities examined from Port of Entry and Field Detection data in the United States.

Albana was our first Fulbright Scholar and currently works as a Geovisualization Analyst for the NOTUS energy Unternehmensgruppe.


Robert Bennett

Background: Political Science and minor in Environmental Science from NC State University

ACE: North Carolina Environmental Advisory Boards

Robert currently works as Technical Specialist for NARUC.


Aaron Burkhart

Background: Environmental Technologies and Management BS and MS in Environmental Impact Assessment from NC State University

ACE: The Conflict of Climate Change Communication: Understanding of Climate Change Denialism through Identity, Culture, and Emotion, hosted by Robert Bruck, Professor Emeritus at NC State University

Aaron currently works as the SVP of Business and Project Development at Dorman Energy Services.


Lydia Campbell

Background: Anthropological Sciences from The Ohio State University

ACE: Decision-Making under Changing Climate Conditions: Comparing Crops to Solar PV in North Carolina’s Central Coastal Plain, hosted by Dr. Christopher Galik, professor of NC State’s Department of Public Administration

Lydia currently works as the Project Director at Equiti Foods


Jonathan Chan

Background: GIS and Cartography from Michigan State University

ACE: A New Climate Action Planning Process for North Carolina State University, hosted by the NC State Office of Sustainability

Jonathan currently works as a Senior Project Officer for CDP.


Fatu Blama

Background: Geology from the University of Liberia

ACE: Engaging Local Farmers Based On North Carolina Climate Report And Clean Energy Plan, hosted by NOAA

Fatu currently works as a SQL Server and Oracle Database Administrator for WSIPC.


Ashlyn Shore

Background: Psychology and Environmental Science from NC State

ACE: Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center Tribal Resources WebApp and Webpage, hosted by the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center

Ashlyn currently works as the Communications Coordinator for the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center + Fernleaf.


Daniel Spruill

Background: Science and Technology Studies from NC State

ACE: Office of Sustainability Climate Action Plan research, hosted by the NC State Sustainability Office

Daniel currently works as a Transportation Planner at the NC Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization


Crystal Yelverton

Crystal currently works for the Virginia Department of Transportation.


2018 Graduates

Veronica Fall

Background: Meteorology from Valparaiso University; M.S. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma

ACE: Predicting the harvest date of blackberries using “growing degree day”; hosted by the State Climate Office of North Carolina

Veronica currently works as a Catastrophe Research Analyst at SageSure


Kyla Bloyer

Background: Communications from North Carolina State University

ACE: effective strategies in favor of coastal resiliency and against the threat of sea level rise and rising groundwater table and its implications for public health and safety in Nag’s Head, NC; hosted by the NC Sea Grant

Kyla currently works as a Communications Manager at the American Society for Adaptation Professionals


George Murdisson

Background: American Studies, University of Alabama

ACE: Oral histories project focusing on drought and extreme weather in the Caribbean, hosted by the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center

Current position: Sales Lead for Google Fiber.


2017 Graduates

Cara Geiger

Background: Meteorology and Ocean Sciences & Coastal Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

ACE: sensitivity of livestock heat stress to climate change and variability; hosted by the State Climate Office of North Carolina

Current position: Operations Officer, Storm Surge Unit, National Hurricane Center


Kara Piarulli

Background: meteorology from Millersville University

ACE: climate and weather data lesson that students at the high school level; hosted by NOAA NCEI,  Asheville NC

Current position: Pipeline Associate for Science Based Targets Initiative.


Christian Erickson

Background: Geosciences from Denison University

ACE: Invasive species and climate change; hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Current Position: Emergency Preparedness Officer for FEMA.


Eric Wright

Background: Civil Engineering

ACE: Blackberry Production and Climate Variability; hosted by the State Climate Office of North Carolina

Current Position: Senior Research Analyst for S&P Global