Students in the CCS Masters program come from a variety of backgrounds and investigate the interface between climate change and society at different scales and in different forms. Half of them are full-time students and the other half are part-time.

Certificate Program students include recent graduates of Bachelor’s programs and a number of mid-career individuals from industry leaders such as the Weather Channel.

In their own words


Lacey Brown

Environmental stewardship has always been a passion of mine, but only after completing my Bachelor’s of Communication in 2018 did I start to consider how that passion could be applied to my career. I wanted to find a way to combine my social science training and love for the arts with climate change awareness and response. This is when I came across the Climate Change and Society program. I was immediately drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the ability to shape it to my interests and goals. Currently I live in Wilmington, North Carolina and have joined the Leadership Team of Clean Cape Fear to help stop the release of dangerous PFAS into the Cape Fear River. I’m already utilizing the skills I learned in the Climate Adaptation Certificate Program and now the full CCS Masters program. Ultimately, I plan to focus my studies on a combination of environmental policy and climate change communication.

Samantha Collins
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, I spent several years working for contract positions in a broad variety of settings: cell biology academic labs, industrial agricultural research, and small nature-based pest and environmental control, among others. All of these were valuable experiences, but my lifelong interest in conservation and the wild places of the world, as well as the growing urgency of the greatest challenge of our lifetimes – climate change – convinced me that I needed to refocus the trajectory of my career. I am thrilled to be a member of the Climate Change & Society Program and therefore a proactive participant in building a thriving, sustainable future. This is a challenge that impacts every field, but it is also an opportunity to re-examine our relationships with our institutions and our environment, and one I am excited to support with lifelong curiosity and action.

Tracy DiTucci
My interest in climate change came about through a gradual realization that the natural and human systems I care about are degrading at a pace unparalleled in human history. I am excited to return to NC State as part of the Master’s in Climate Change & Society program so that I can play a more active, informed role in how society responds to our current climate reality. My education and work background centers around international sustainable development, human health and humanitarian response from a gender perspective. More specifically, I received my BA in International Cultural Studies from NC State in 2011 and hold an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from Fordham University. I currently work as a Senior Program Manager for an international NGO implementing women’s health programs in West, Central and Lusophone Africa where I work at the intersection of research, policy and practice. Through the program I hope to round out my background by learning the science behind climate change and developing my skill set in geospatial analytics. Ultimately, I’d like to use what I learn to support development of climate adaptation strategies along the emergency response and sustainable development continuum.


Sara Jarvis Earle
Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in how humans affect the environment and their surroundings. Having grown up in Miami, FL and Raleigh, NC I have had amazing opportunities to experience different environments. Once having finished my undergraduate degree in Environmental Sustainability and Public Health at Meredith College I pursued a career in the police department and tried to become a police officer. After my experience with the department I decided to not continue with them and change my focus to more environmental related work. I decided to pursue a master’s degree with the Climate Change and Society program here at NC State University, not only because it is close to home, but because it’s a very unique program which offers the opportunity to make an important impact to the whole world. I would like to be a part of meaningful policy and sustainability changes in the future which will lead to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world.

Catherine Edbrooke
Catherine majored in Marine Sciences with a concentration in Biological Oceanography and minors in Spanish and Biology at NC State before graduating and joining the Climate Change & Society Master’s program. She is currently working as a teaching assistant for the BIO 181 Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity lab during her time as a graduate student. She wanted to join the Climate Change & Society program so that she could better understand the ways climate change interacts with the marine system and the effects of this interaction on marine organisms. After this program she hopes to continue her studies into the interactions between the ocean and climate change.

Kristen Fontana
I always had a passion for conserving and protecting the environment, but it was when I began college that this love really progressed. The moment I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the environmental field was during an intro engineering class at my previous college in Staten Island, NY. When reviewing the different careers in engineering, my professor placed extra emphasis on environmental engineers, stating how these individuals will play a vital role in the fight against climate change. At this point, I was determined to become an environmental engineer and subsequently one of the reasons the planet is saved from disastrous, irreversible impacts of climate change. However, during my first semester at NC State, I realized that although I am devoted to the environment and conserving its resources, environmental engineering just wasn’t going to fulfill these passions for me. As a result, I switched to natural resources with a minor in environmental sciences, where I quickly learned that environmental education and communication are more akin to my interests. When I learned of the Climate Change & Society Program, I jumped at the chance to apply. This program encompasses everything I wish to learn about the climate system so that I can be an effective communicator of the science and hopefully play a role in the fight against climate change. In addition, I am also interested in finding a means to decarbonize the grid fully and effectively. It will not be an easy feat but is a necessary one to significantly reduce humanity’s carbon footprint. The time to act is now, and I know this program will help me do just that.

Kristen is a recipient of our Women in STEM Scholarship.

Oppong Hemeng
A Texas native, Oppong Hemeng received degrees from the University of Houston and University of Florida before starting his career in the sustainability field. As a sustainability professional, Oppong sees the importance of applying sustainable solutions that are economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially just. Over the past few years, he has worked in sports, entertainment, and higher education all with a sustainability focus. He is currently working as the Sustainability Specialist in the NC State Sustainability Office. Always looking to educate himself with the latest research and information about sustainability, Oppong joined the Climate Change & Society Graduate Program to become a more enlightened leader in the field. His research interests are focused on the intersection of business and climate change while broadening the scope of environmental, social, and governance.

Claire Jackson

I have always had a passion for the environment and protecting the Earth. As I made my way through undergrad and the beginning of my career, I realized how complicated and ever evolving the idea of combating climate change is. In college, I majored in Business during my time at Franklin and Marshall College, but I enjoyed taking classes that centered around the natural world and the dynamic relationship society shares with the environment. I was interested in the innovative solutions that businesses and individuals were creating to reduce our footprint. I wanted to take a more serious step in one of the most important issues that our society is facing. I joined this program to learn how to better communicate, design and actively combat climate change and I’m so excited for this next chapter. 

Vanadeep Kaluvagunta

As an international student coming to NC State from a land hailed to be the ‘cradle of civilizations’ – India (Bhaarat), I take immense pride and deem it my privilege to be an integral part of the Department of Marine, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and the Climate Change & Society (CCS) Masters program. I was enrolled as a Doctoral student in MEAS and now, it’s a great opportunity to be on-board for pursuing my masters in CCS. I already have a double masters (one in Physics FROM India and the other in Meteorology from Spain) along with a PhD in Physics back in India. I am now pursuing my second PhD and my third masters from NCSU. I also worked as a scientific assistant to a chief scientist in National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL), which is under the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Being a passionate teacher, I had an opportunity to teach Astrophysics, Ecology & Environmental Science to undergraduates along with Physics & Electronics to graduate students in 3 different universities of India. I also served on the Board of Studies (BOS) committee at university level for Meteorology and Hydrology engaged in framing & approving the syllabi. At NCSU, I am also the President of the Indian Student Association of NCSU- MAITRI, which is the largest international student organization on campus with almost 2000 members. In addition to this , I serve as the GSA representative to the All-council from MEAS department. Besides, I take pride in being a Small Pack Leader , fulfilling my responsibilities as an international services volunteer involved in cross-cultural interactions with students. Recently, I have also been appointed as the NCSU Student Senator for Graduate & Lifelong Education. Right from my kindergarten, I have been very fascinated and thrilled as I observed winds, cloud formation patterns, flow of water, lightning and the unparalleled scent of hot Earth’s surface during the first pre-monsoon showers. To my dismay, all these exquisite phenomena are fading out with passing years owing to the menace of climate change. Hence, I find it enriching and fulfilling to be part of a program that strives to investigate and mitigate all possible triggers of climate change involving highly interactive practical studies. Looking forward to embarking upon a wonderful learning voyage on all fronts through the CCS Masters Program.


Mark Massing

Dr. Massing received his BS in computer science at Florida Atlantic University and then earned an MS in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill, an MD from Duke University and PhD in epidemiology at UNC-CH. He joined the program to learn more about climate change and its implications for the health sector.


Alayna Moore

From sledding down hills during the Illinois winters to swimming in lakes to camping with my family, I have always enjoyed spending time outdoors. It was not until I took an environmental science class in high school that I learned how humans are affecting the things I love. That class sparked a passion for learning about these issues and trying to find ways to be part of the solution. This led to my decision to go into the sciences by studying biology at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina. After graduating in 2020, I decided to hold off applying to graduate schools until there was a clearer image of what classes would look like post-Covid. During that time, I worked in a few different laboratory tech positions that I found unfulfilling. This pushed me to begin researching programs that would allow me to reconnect with my original passion for the environment leading me to the NCSU Climate Change and Society program. I am beyond excited about the opportunities this program provides and the education I will receive.

Emily Shaw
I have always had a deep appreciation for the environment. Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland I was fascinated by the outdoor world because it was not what I was used to. I attended UNC-Asheville for my undergraduate degree and absolutely fell in love with the mountains of Western North Carolina. While there, I worked for Outdoor Programs leading canoeing, white water kayaking, and rock climbing trips. I learned quickly that I thoroughly enjoy working outside. At the time, my passion was centered on education, and I acquired my BA in History and my Teaching License for grades 6 through 12. After graduation I became a wilderness field instructor for a mental health facility, I was a canoe specialist in Wyoming, and I taught three years at the middle school level – making sure to take my classes outside as much as possible. These experiences really shaped who I am today and fueled my desire to attend this program. I have spent so much time enjoying the world around me, teaching it to my students, that I felt it was time for me to learn how to protect it. I am interested in learning more about environmental law and policy, climate change communication, and how we can implement educational programs to combat the climate crisis.

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



Carl Parker



Sarah Thomas

As a Philadelphia native, I grew up seeing the effects of climate change well before I knew what climate change was. I was amazed by how a city as old as Philadelphia seemed like it was always undergoing construction to adjust for things like storm flooding or for urban sprawl. While working in the city as an ER nurse later on in life, I saw increasing trends of climate-related health issues such as heat stroke or trauma injuries related to severe storms. I hope by completing this degree I can widen my understanding of climate change science to become a better communicator, advocate, and educator. After completion of this degree I hope to further our understanding of the changing climate by completing research, possibly with a focus on atmospheric science.

Addie Thornton
I have always had a love and appreciation for the natural environment and the experiences, resources and beauty it provides. This passion led me to an education and career sustaining our natural resources for future generations to enjoy as I have. Starting with my BS in Natural Resource Policy and Administration at NCSU, to working within the NCSU Forestry Extension Department coordinating natural resource educational events and conferences and now, coordinating the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS). Through SERPPAS I bring together state and federal agencies to make resource use decisions that support military readiness, conservation of natural resources and sustainable working lands and communities in the Southeast. Climate change impacts threaten all of these sectors in varying ways, and I am excited to join this program to enable SERPPAS to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate for a more resilient Southeast Region. I look forward to this degree opening up opportunities for me to continue my career focusing on the most important issue of our time.

Shonni Wiggins
My fascination with climate change began in middle school while attending math and science camp at the School of Math Science in Durham, NC.  Also, living in eastern North Carolina I have experienced how hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding can be devastating.  I have seen how these weather events have worsened over the years and their impact on vulnerable communities in my area.  I have a B.S in Environmental Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.  While attending NCAT my advisor encouraged me to learn more about the Climate Change and Society Program at NC State to further my interest in climate change.  I enrolled in the Climate Change and Society program because I want to learn more about the science behind the changes in our climate.  Upon receiving my degree, I would like to apply it to a career working with at-risk communities affected by climate change.