The Stanford Woods Institute announced today the 2013 cohort for its Rising Environmental Leaders Program (RELP), an innovative interdisciplinary initiative that exposes graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to national policy development, partnership building and public service careers. The 21 participants, whose research ranges from renewable and intelligent energy grid solutions to sustainable marine resource management, were selected from a competitive field representing five of Stanford’s seven schools.

“The U.S. needs more interdisciplinary thought leaders in policy negotiations at every level of jurisdiction, from local to national – and particularly on topics that involve Earth’s life support systems,” said Holmes Hummel, (Ph.D., Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, '06) a U.S. Department of Energy senior policy adviser who spoke to 2012 RELP participants during their time in Washington. “The program is a remarkable reflection of Stanford’s commitment to professional development for impact, and I look forward to engaging all the participants who are answering the calls of our time.”

RELP builds leadership and communications skills with experiential learning and exposure to leaders from government, NGOs, think tanks and business. A key component of the program is an intensive weeklong program in Washington that introduces participants to a range of government-sector professionals and pushes participants to strategize ways for maximizing the impact of their research. Hosted in partnership with the Bing Stanford in Washington Program, this “boot camp” gives participants firsthand knowledge of how to fund research, build networks, inform policymakers and communicate science research to nonscientists.

“D.C. needs more smart, capable, talented people,” said Kai Anderson (Ph.D., Geological and Environmental Sciences, '98), chief strategy officer and executive vice president with the government relations firm of Cassidy & Associates in Washington and a RELP speaker in the past. “D.C. is a place where they can leverage their skills, probably more than anywhere else, for good.” Anderson focuses on energy, climate, environment and public lands issues – a career he did not imagine as a graduate student in geology.

Beyond opening participants’ eyes to a diverse range of perspectives, insights and experience, RELP is designed to create an interdisciplinary network 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.