The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment has named 20 scholars to the 2017 Rising Environmental Leaders Program (RELP). The annual program helps Stanford graduate students and postdoctoral researchers develop the leadership and communications needed to to maximize the impact of their research.

Through meetings, workshops and discussions with leaders and policymakers in the private and public sectors, RELP is designed to educate specialists in diverse fields on how their research relates to governance, industry and eventually, the lives of everyday people. A key component of the program is its D.C. Boot Camp, a partnership between the Stanford Woods Institute and the Bing Stanford in Washington Program. The Boot Camp is an intensive week-long experience in Washington, D.C., that introduces fellows to legislative, government and non-profit professionals.

“RELP is a fantastic opportunity for environmental researchers to learn from key policymakers and professionals both how their research can affect policy, regulations and decision-making and what communication strategies may increase the impact of their work,” said Woods External Affairs Adviser Lea Rosenbohm, who directs the RELP program.

The 2017 RELP cohort was chosen through a competitive process encompassing all seven schools at Stanford University. This year’s participants are studying a wide range of topics including the impact of climate change on the spread of infectious disease, energy and water efficient infrastructure and the sociological implications of gender related to environmental behaviors.

“I applied to RELP to learn how to translate my research and scholarship into sound public policy and otherwise impactful action,” said Jesse Reiblich, an Early Career Law and Policy Fellow with the Center for Ocean Solutions and part of the RELP class of 2017.

“One of the things I'm the most excited about is sharing this experience with a new group of colleagues from Stanford,” said Perrine Hamel, lead hydrologist at the Natural Capital Project and also part of this year’s RELP cohort. “Spending time with inspiring young professionals who share my passion for environmental issues is a wonderful opportunity to learn, develop my strengths and work on my weaknesses.”

Now in its seventh year, RELP serves as a bridge between science and policy, research and real world change. With networking opportunities, on-campus workshops and direct interaction with senior level professionals, the program enables productive feedback between researchers and decision-makers. The goal of this increased discussion is to inform useful environmental solutions that can be implemented, not just in theory, but in practice.

“Whether I work in the U.S. or internationally in the future, understanding how U.S. institutions work is incredibly valuable in the environmental arena, since funding and strategic decisions made here have impacts globally,” said Hamel.

The community has grown to more than 120 participants since the program’s inception in 2010. More information on the 2017 class is available on the program website.