Students of today, leaders of tomorrow

5 min readAug 4, 2020

Meet the new faces of carbon removal

by Jane Zelikova, chief scientist and Vanessa Suarez, policy advisor

2020 is slated to break yet another “hottest year” record amid calls for ambitious climate action. It is becoming increasingly urgent to scale carbon removal, a critical part of the portfolio of climate change mitigation solutions. Despite recent policy developments on the Hill, including House Appropriations, the House Democrats Climate Crisis report, and the inclusion of carbon removal in the Biden climate plan, carbon removal still has a long way to go towards meeting our climate goals.

Ambitious climate action needs every solution and everyone. That’s why Carbon180 is helping elevate a new generation of climate researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and advocates. This past June, we launched the remote Carbon180 summer internship program with the goal of helping build and expand the bench of carbon removal experts and support the next generation of climate leaders.

Launching an internship program during a global pandemic is no small feat. We set out to build a remote program that is inclusive, interactive, and accessible. We designed an internship to emulate the “office” experience, providing opportunities for interns to network and grow carbon removal expertise, and to build a sense of cohesion within the cohort and with the rest of the Carbon180 team.

We received close to 700 applications for the internship, many from stellar undergraduate students across the country, including students from junior colleges, research universities, and specialized and mission-driven colleges. While we love seeing so much interest in a carbon removal internship, we also recognize that this was one of the few remaining paid opportunities for students who lost their research and internship offers as a result of COVID-19. The sheer number of applications we received also speaks to the dire need for more student opportunities that are well paid and accessible. The carbon removal leaders of tomorrow can’t have a seat at the table if only a select few can even afford a seat.

The Carbon180 Internship Program

The Carbon180 internship program for undergraduate students is a 10 week paid research and analysis experience. The interns, working from locations across the US, are spending their summer getting into the weeds of carbon removal, from ocean carbon removal science to direct air capture (DAC) policy. Each intern is focused on a carbon removal pathway that aligns with their interests, concentrating in either policy or science research and analysis, and culminating in a final policy brief or research paper. There are ample opportunities for collaboration with fellow interns and full-time staff across science, policy, and communications. Interns also participate in existing Carbon180 projects, bringing fresh ideas and catalyzing new directions for our work.

If the future of carbon removal is in their hands, we’re optimistic for our climate.

Without further ado, meet the next generation of climate leaders!

Courtni Holness

Courtni is a policy intern researching and analyzing federal policies to scale DAC. She is an earth system science and environmental engineering major at the City College of New York. Outside of work, she loves to cook (in particular vegan recipes) and do yoga.

Emelyn Chiang

Emelyn is a science intern researching bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). In the fall, she will pursue a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering at Tufts University. On the weekends, she works as a wedding photographer/videographer.

Jessie McGinley

Jessie is a policy intern analyzing opportunities to integrate carbon capture and storage (CCS) federal policy and environmental justice. She is a society and environment major at UC Berkeley. Outside of Carbon180, she typically spends her summers at Camp Kon-O-Kwee.

Maya Glicksman

Maya is a science intern researching agricultural practices that can help store carbon in the soil. She recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in geology-biology. In her free time, she loves to take care of her houseplants and practice yoga.

Olivia Hemond

Olivia is a science intern working on engineered and natural ocean-based carbon removal solutions. She is a molecular and environmental biology major at UC Berkeley. Outside of work, she loves to explore and make pottery.

Samuel Orellana

Sam is a science intern working on embodied carbon — a utilization pathway that stores carbon in construction materials and buildings. He is an architecture major at the City College of San Francisco. In his free time, he enjoys anything and everything related to art.

Vanessa Ishimwe

Vanessa is a policy intern researching agriculture policy to maximize soil carbon sequestration on farms and ranches and in forests and wetlands. Beginning in the fall, she will be a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. She enjoys stand-up comedy and pop culture podcasts during social distancing.

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