News Story

September 11, 2012

HUCE Welcomes New Environmental Fellows

Harvard University Center for the Environment welcomes its 2012 cohort of Environmental Fellows. These six new Fellows join a group of remarkable scholars who are in their second year of the fellowship. Together, the Environmental Fellows at Harvard will form a community of researchers with diverse backgrounds united by intellectual curiosity, top-quality scholarship, and a drive to understand some of the most important environmental challenges facing society.

HUCE created the Environmental Fellows program to enable recent doctorate recipients to use and expand Harvard's extraordinary resources to tackle complex environmental problems. The Environmental Fellows work for two years with Harvard faculty members in any school or department to create new knowledge while also strengthening connections across the University's academic disciplines.

The current Fellows represent a range of research interests, including: political science, environmental toxicology, economics, physics, and materials science. Current Fellows include:

Ph.D. ’12 Political Science, MIT

Nathan Black is a political scientist interested in the future relationship between climate change and violent civil conflict.

Nathan earned a B.A. in History from Rice University in 2002, and will receive a Ph.D. in Political Science from MIT in June 2012. His dissertation research sought to explain why violent civil conflicts in the developing world sometimes spread across borders. While at MIT, Nathan also published a paper on the statistical link between arable land supply shocks—a key expected outcome of climate change—and civil conflict. During the 2011-2012 academic year, he was a Predoctoral Fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His research has been funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation and the Tobin Project.

As an Environmental Fellow, Nathan will work with Robert Bates of the Department of Government on the security consequences of climate change in Latin America. Nathan will try to identify best practices for Latin American state governments facing arable land supply shocks of the kind expected as a result of climate change, specifically which responses to these shocks have led to peace in the past, and which have led to violent conflict.

Ph.D. ’12 Pathobiology, Brown University

Jessica LaRocca is an environmental toxicologist interested in how exposures to endocrine disruptors during pregnancy can influence development before and after birth.

Jessica received her B.S. in environmental biochemistry at the University of Connecticut in 2008. There she graduated cum laude and as an honors scholar.  She received her Ph.D. in Pathobiology at Brown University in 2012. Her graduate research focused on adult reproductive outcomes following in utero exposures to the toxicant, Bisphenol A (BPA). She also explored the role of the survival gene, Akt1, on mammary gland development and cancer. During her graduate work, Jessica received the Teratology Society’s James G. Wilson Presentation and James C. Bradford Memorial Poster Awards, and the Northeast Society of Toxicology Presentation Award.

As an Environmental Fellow, Jessica will be working with Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health to examine the relationship between epigenetic alterations in the placenta and exposure to toxicants during pregnancy. Her work will compare epigenetic alterations to genes related to steroidogenesis in the placenta to phenol and phthalate urine levels during pregnancy.

Ph.D. ’12 Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

Chiara Lo Prete is an energy economist who studies the functioning and regulation of electricity and environmental markets.

Chiara earned a B.A. in Economics from Luiss University (Rome) in 2003 and a M.A. in Energy and Environmental Economics from Scuola Mattei (Milan) in 2004. While working for the energy company Eni, she conducted economic and quantitative analysis on the impacts of energy, environmental and climate policies on the electric power and automotive sectors in Europe and the United States. In 2007, Chiara started a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, which she received in 2012.

Her doctoral research addressed topics in energy and environmental economics, applied econometrics and empirical industrial organization. Chiara is interested in the application of econometric models to the study of issues that are relevant in wholesale electricity markets, including price dynamics and firms’ strategic interaction. Another branch of her work uses economic-engineering models for gaining insights into the economic, environmental and reliability impacts of distributed generation on power networks.

As an Environmental Fellow, Chiara will work with William Hogan of the Harvard Kennedy School on the development of energy and ancillary service market models for the integration of distributed generation in liberalized electricity markets.

Ph.D. ’12 Economics, Yale University

Eduardo Souza Rodrigues is an economist interested in the causes of the deforestation in the Amazon and in the costs and effectiveness of policies that promote conservation.

Eduardo received a B.A. in 2000 and a M.Sc. in 2003 both in Economics from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He then worked for three years at the Brazilian Central Bank. After that, he started in the Economics program at Yale University in 2006 and completed his Ph.D. in 2012. His Ph.D. research estimated the demand for deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and, based on this estimate, investigated the impacts of three policy interventions: (a) payments to avoid deforestation; (b) Pigouvian taxes on agricultural land; (c) quantitative limits in land-use. He concluded that both payments and taxes would have been effective in avoiding deforestation, while quantitative limits would have been too costly for local farmers. He also developed nonparametric estimators that can be applied to land-use choice models using micro data, as well as to other similar contexts.

As an Environmental Fellow, Eduardo will work with Professor Ariel Pakes in the Department of Economics. He will develop and estimate a dynamic model of land use decision for the Brazilian Amazon. The model will serve two purposes: First, it will be used to estimate the elasticity of deforestation (and of emissions of carbon) with respect to commodity prices. Second, it will be used to evaluate the dynamic implications of environmental policies.

Ph.D. ’12 Materials Science and Engineering, MIT

Jin Suntivich is a material scientist interested in understanding surface-molecule interaction from materials science's structure-property relation principles and how such understanding can lead to a rational design of novel energy conversion and storage materials.

Jin received a B.A. in Integrated Science and B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University in 2006, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. His Ph.D. research focused on finding a structure-property relation that controls the electrochemical activity of transition metal oxides and nanoparticles for applications in fuel cells and metal-air batteries.

As an Environmental Fellow, Jin will work with Eric Mazur of the Department of Physics and the School of Engineering and Applied Physics to control semiconductor materials for light-to-fuel conversion. His work will also explore the spectroscopies of surface-molecule interaction.

Ph.D. ’12 Theoretical Physics, Imperial College London

Giuseppe Torri is a theoretical physicist interested in different aspects of atmospheric convection, with particular reference to entrainment and how aerosols are removed from the atmosphere through convective precipitation.

Giuseppe received a B.Sc. in Physics in 2005 and a M.Sc. in Theoretical Physics in 2007 from the University of Milan – Bicocca and a Ph.D in Theoretical Physics from Imperial College London in 2012. His B.Sc. and M.Sc. research focused on non-perturbative aspects of gauge theories, with particular attention to supersymmetric theories. After completing his M.Sc., Giuseppe moved to London for his Ph.D. where he continued along similar lines of research, particularly using algebraic geometry to investigate the structure of the space of vacua of certain string theories. During this time, Giuseppe also collaborated with David Romps at UC Berkeley on a project related to the parameterization of convective entrainment. During his graduate studies, Giuseppe was supported by a grant awarded by the Fondazione Angelo Della Riccia.

As an Environmental Fellow, Giuseppe will collaborate with Zhiming Kuang and Daniel Jacob of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to investigate how convective processes influence the transport of aerosols in the atmosphere. His work will focus in particular on how the precipitation that originates from convective motions removes aerosols from the troposphere and how this process can be easily represented with climate models. 


Applications are now open for the 2013 cohort of Environmental Fellows. Visit the HUCE website to learn more and apply.


Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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