The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment has named 20 fellows for the 2015 Rising Environmental Leaders Program (RELP). The interdisciplinary fellowship program exposes graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to national policy development, partnership building and public service in order to maximize the impact of their research.

This year’s 20 RELP fellows were selected from a competitive field of applicants who represent the university’s seven schools. Each shares a passion for advancing environmental solutions.

RELP builds leadership and communication skills with experiential learning and exposure to decision-makers from government, nongovernmental organizations, think tanks and business. A central component of the program is its signature D.C. Boot Camp, an intensive week that introduces participants to a range of legislative, government and NGO professionals, including Stanford alumni. The Boot Camp is a partnership between the Woods Institute and the Bing Stanford in Washington Program.

“This year’s RELP fellows represent the very best of Stanford’s young environmental researchers,” said Lea Rosenbohm, external affairs adviser at the Woods Institute and director of the RELP program. “Members of the group will be outstanding ambassadors in Washington, D.C., where they will showcase the breadth of Stanford’s environmental research while learning from key leaders and decision-makers at the national level.”

The overarching objective of the program is to provide firsthand knowledge about national policy development, partnership building and public service careers. In addition to the D.C. Boot Camp, the program offers networking opportunities and skill-building workshops on campus.

“As an applied economist, I sometimes unintentionally slip into an assumption that my work is policy relevant," said Ansu Sahoo, a research associate at Stanford Graduate School of Business and a research fellow of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance. “Through RELP, I would like to learn how to position my work such that it indeed addresses the challenges that keep policymakers up at night,” added Sahoo, whose research focuses on the economics of energy and environmental technology.

“Working on groundwater issues in California has exposed me to the sensitivities behind water resource issues and has challenged me to translate quantitative findings into information that is relevant to policymakers,” said Debra Perrone, a postdoctoral research fellow with a dual appointment in the Water in the West Program and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Participating in RELP will provide me with the opportunity to build upon my science communication skills, as well as my understanding of national policy development, so that I can work effectively with policymakers.”

"As a lawyer, RELP is an opportunity to understand the intrinsic relationship between environmental idealism, the need of the hour, and the actual policy procedures that shape governance as a whole,” said Eeshan Chaturvedi, a Masters student in Environmental Law and Policy at Stanford whose research concerns the need for an environmentally dedicated judiciary.

Beyond opening participants’ eyes to a diverse range of perspectives, insights and experience, RELP is designed to create an interdisciplinary network of researchers with a common set of experiences to support and enhance each other’s research and career opportunities. Ideally, this network results in more diverse and practical environmental research projects and learning opportunities during and after the participants’ time at Stanford.

More than 75 fellows have participated in RELP since its launch in 2010. Bios for the 2015 class are available on the program website.