Elizabeth Andruszkiewicz spends a lot of time thinking about invisible things.
The Stanford civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. student studies DNA left behind by ocean animals and what it can tell us about our environment. To raise the visibility of her work, Andruszkiewicz applied to the Rising Environmental Leaders Program (RELP), which helps graduate students and postdoctoral researchers develop leadership and communications skills to maximize the impact of their research.
“It’s easy to have horse blinders doing research in the laboratory,” Andruszkiewicz said. “I want to gain a broader perspective, and see science through the lens of policy and law.”
Andruszkiewicz is one of 20 Stanford scholars selected for the 2018 cohort of RELP, a Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment program 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, an intensive weeklong experience in Washington, D.C., that introduces fellows to legislative, government and nonprofit professionals.
This year’s RELP cohort was chosen through a competitive process encompassing all seven schools at Stanford. Participants are studying a wide range of topics from renewable energy markets and urban climate change adaptation to extreme weather and ways to optimize public opinion data for policymakers. They bring backgrounds in law, social science, biology and physics, among other disciplines.
“RELP will help me better understand how I can translate and present my research so that it is useful in political and regulatory decision-making processes,” said Kim Quesnel, a civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. student who investigates urban water demand as a key component of advancing future supply planning.
“I am hoping to learn how to make my research speak to the last men and women standing for reasonable environmental policy, and to give them a voice in my work,” said Christof Brandtner, a sociology Ph.D. student who studies the diffusion and implementation of administrative practices in the public and nonprofit sector.
“I will meet other RELPers who care about similar issues and have the same drive to make an impact,” said Indira Phukan, an education Ph.D. student and a master’s student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources who examines the societal construction of the mainstream environmental movement. “I truly believe that the only way we will be able to achieve sustainability is if we bring more people into the collaborative process of problem-solving.”
The RELP community has grown to more than 140 participants since the program’s inception in 2010. More information on the 2018 cohort.