The University of Arizona

2020 Environment and Society Fellows | CLIMAS

 SW Climate Outlook

2020 Environment and Society Fellows

2020 Environment and Society Fellows

Emily Cooksey (she/her) is PhD student in Environmental Health Science in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman School of Public Health. Her doctoral dissertation is focused on presence, persistence, and human health risk associated with pathogenic Vibrio from oysters harvested in Southern California through a collaboration with Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP). The primary focus of her research is to expand scientific knowledge of the interactions between shellfish, microbial water quality, environmental factors, and public health. As an Environment and Society Fellow, Emily will identify implications for human health by coupling oyster research in Southern Californian estuaries and in simulated marine environments with QMRA. Her laboratory findings will influence her QMRA model and assess regulatory standards. The collaboration between the University of Arizona and SCCWRP provides a platform for groundbreaking Vibrio research on the West Coast and the ability to influence current oyster harvesting policy in Southern California. Emily will use her research to evaluate existing policy to reduce human health risk from exposure to pathogenic Vibrio.

JoRee LaFrance (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Science. She comes from the Crow Reservation located in southeastern Montana and is Apsáalooke (Crow). Her Apsáalooke name is Iichiinmaaáatchilash – Fortunate with Horses and she comes from the Greasy Mouth clan and is a child of Ties in the Bundle clan. She uses the intersection of her background in earth sciences and Native American studies to focus on water quality issues on her reservation. JoRee’s PhD research aims to understand the contaminant behavior in the Indigenous Food, Energy, Water Security and Sovereignty (Indige-FEWSS) nexus in the Little Bighorn River watershed. More specifically, she will address the contaminant concentration-discharge relationship in the river to further determine any implications and to characterize exposure routes unique to Apsáalooke people. As a CLIMAS fellow, she plans to produce a short documentary about surface water sampling and will collaborate with artists to create the hydrologic cycle from an Apsáalooke perspective.

Kunal Palawat (they/them) is pursuing a masters in soil and water science at the University of Arizona Department of Environmental Science. They have a background in soil/water science and community organizing from their time living in Vermont and are excited to blend their passions together in Arizona. Kunal’s research focuses on public participation in science, environmental pollution, and ecological modeling through the community rainwater harvesting study called Project Harvest. They are also passionate challenging the oppressive norms of western science through the democratization of science, supporting queer, trans, and two-spirit BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, mentorship, and climate activism. Their project with CLIMAS involves creating a climate change and contamination informed community cookbook. The Arizonan communities participating in the process are the members of Project Harvest in four towns (Dewey, Globe, Hayden, Tucson) and the Mission Garden in Tucson. The cookbook will have recipes developed by community members and Kunal in addition to photographs and historical narratives of each dish.

Rachel Rosenbaum (she/her) is a sociocultural anthropologist studying the politics of urban infrastructure in Beirut, Lebanon. Her doctoral dissertation research examines how Lebanese grapple with decades of infrastructural and environmental degeneration, histories of violence, and issues of ineffective governance. Her research centers local environmental and infrastructural change-makers who are working collectively to tackle these issues and institute alternatives. Her project with CLIMAS will use this ongoing research to facilitate the design and implementation of a data visualization platform with her local partners, Recycle Lebanon. The platform, “Regenerate Lebanon,” is an open-source online platform visualizing interconnected environmental and infrastructural issues around the country and connecting people to solutions.


  • The Environment & Society Fellowship was created in 2013 as a funding opportunity for graduate students to practice use-inspired research and science communication.
  • The Fellowship supports projects that connect social or physical sciences, the environment, and decision-making.
  • Projects must be use-inspired and address research and information needs voiced by the students’ project partners.
  • The Fellowship is funded and supported by the University of Arizona Office of Research, Innovation, & Impact, and CLIMAS.