2022 ELP Cohort
Meet the inaugural 21-student cohort in iSEE’s Environmental Leadership Program (ELP)!
Hello! My name is Jamie Abbott, and I am a sophomore from Orion, Ill., studying Agricultural & Biological Engineering with a minor in Natural Resource Conservation. In the future, I aspire to work toward environmental and agricultural sustainability. On campus, I am a Resident Advisor at Saint John’s Catholic Newman Center, a Learning Assistant for the Grainger First Year Experience course “Global Disaster Resilience,” and on the executive board for the RSO Illini Urban Farmers. I am passionate about anything outdoors, and in my free time, I enjoy traveling, cooking, playing soccer, and crochet.
My name is Maiah Caise, and I am a junior studying Agricultural & Biological Engineering with a minor in the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program. On campus, I am also involved in the Society of Women Engineers, the Student Sustainability Leadership Council, the Triathlon Club, and the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) Engagement Team. I enjoy doing anything outside or active (especially paddleboarding!), reading, and cooking!
My name is Benjamin Cohen and I am a senior in the College of ACES studying public policy and law. I am a huge fan of Tesla, renewable energy, and promoting cleaner alternatives in society. While I am from Chicago, I enjoy the great outdoors and love to bike everywhere.
My name is Christopher Aaron Eng, and I am a first-year student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering. I am active in organizations such as Illinois Solar Decathlon, Habitat for Humanity, and ASCE. In my studies, I intend to declare a primary in sustainable & resilient infrastructure systems and a secondary in transportation engineering. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I intend\ to apply to graduate school to further my interest in the development of buildings that have been designed using sustainable and energy-efficient practices.
Hello! I am Christina Garcia, a junior in Civil & Environmental Engineering with a minor from the Hoeft Technology and Management Program. I am currently the External-Vice President for the Society of Women Engineers and have been involved on campus as a T&M Student Ambassador, ARISE scholar, Chi Epsilon Member, and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Member. In my academic career, I have conducted research in the CEE Water Resources department and am a part of the Sychterz Modular Adaptive Resilient Transformable Infrastructure (SMARTI) Lab focusing on structural engineering research with tensegrity structures.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinagarciaorozco/
I’m John Hopkins, a senior studying Environmental Economics & Policy in the College of ACES with a minor in business. When I am not participating in student theater or pick-up soccer, I enjos hiking and spending time outdoors. I became interested in the Environmental Leadership Program after learning about how the students who are involved can learn to implement sustainable solutions locally. Through my studies, I want to apply economic theory with sustainable practices to help transition companies and governments to a greener tomorrow.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnhopkins99/
Hi! I am Fran Kabu, a junior undergraduate student majoring in Community Health with a concentration in Health Planning & Administration. I am an interdisciplinary thinker and intend to pursue a legal career after matriculating. I want to foster advancements in public and environmental health through technology and legislative action.
I’m Neil Kasbekar, a junior double majoring in Econometrics and Quantitative Economics and Sociology. I aspire to go to law school after completing my undergrad and to continue to address topics from the ELP like sustainability and climate action as a lawyer. I currently work as a Legislative Aide for State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, and will spend my time in the ELP researching Illinois legislation that protects apiaries against harsh pesticides.
Hello! My name is Claire Keating and I am majoring in Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability with a concentration in policy. I am the President of the Sustainability Living Learning Community and am a member of various environmental organizations here on campus. I hope to use my experience at the University of Illinois to solve our ongoing climate change battle through policy, education, and consulting.
My name is Lauren Magana and I am a sophomore studying Agricultural & Consumer Economics with a concentration in Environmental Economics & Policy from Mount Prospect, Ill. I am a part of the executive board in my sorority, I was an ACE Ambassador during the fall semester, and I also work as a Wellness Support Associate on campus. I am very passionate about the environment and want to research the intersection between climate change and public health!
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-magana/
My name is Joaquina Noriega. I am a Civil & Environmental Engineering major with a minor in Ecology and Conservation Biology who will be graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in May 2022. I aspire to, one day, manage complex projects that aim to solve significant environmental challenges. I love nature and I am very interested in the interconnections within ecosystems. This admiration is what drives my passion for sustainability.
Hello! My name is Simone Perrin and I’m a senior at UIUC. I’m from Skokie, Ill., which is a suburb outside of Chicago. I’m majoring in Political Science and Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability, with a minor in Communication. I became passionate about environmental issues and sustainability a few months into becoming a vegan, and ever since, it has been my mission to become more educated on the subject matter and teach others about it as well. In my free time I enjoy volunteering, baking, advocating for causes I am passionate about, and hanging out with my family, friends, and pets!
My name is Liam Reynolds and I am a junior studying Agricultural & Biological Engineering along with a minor in the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program. Originally from Chicago, I want to bring my passion for plants and the environment to cities in the form of green cities and urban agriculture. The more classes/programs I partake in, the more I realize how critical public policy is when it comes to implementing any real-world change. So, I want to learn how to work within the legal system to better protect the environment.
Hi! I’m Jenna Schaefer and I’m a sophomore studying Environmental Economics & Policy with minors in Spanish and the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program. I’m an Illini Lights Out/Campus Sustainability intern for iSEE and I’m on the Zero Waste iCAP Team. I’m involved in the organizations Project for Less, Students for Environmental Concerns, and Stitching Illini. I also play clarinet in the Newman Center choir. I hope to work in zero waste or sustainability in the future. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, hiking, and taking care of plants.
My name is Noelle Smagala, and I am a sophomore from Aurora, Ill., majoring in Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability with a Spanish minor. I someday hope to pursue a career in nonprofit advocacy, environmental policy/law, and international ecological sustainability efforts. I am particularly passionate about food waste and recycling incentives and assessing how the carbon footprint patterns of various income brackets differ. On campus, I am involved in a pre-law fraternity, environmental service through my service fraternity, and other relevant activities. Through these, I hope to expand the scope of environmentalism through media coverage and encourage much needed legal change.
Hi! I am Alexa Smith, a senior studying Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences with dual minors in the SEE Fellows Program and Environmental Economics & Law. I am particularly passionate about social entrepreneurship and waste management, which led me to write a book on the circular economy called An Economic Eclipse. From this program, I hope to gain practical experience with local policymaking aimed at reducing solid waste and to work alongside diverse environmental activists to create change within the Champaign-Urbana community.
I’m Tyler Swanson, a junior studying Agricultural & Consumer Economics with a concentration in environmental economics and policy, and minors in the SEE Fellows Program and Urban Planning. I work as a Research Assistant for the Bock Agricultural Law & Policy Program studying the intersection of renewable energy and agriculture and serve as the iSEE Clerk for the Energy and Transportation iCAP teams. I also enjoy writing about environmental policies and current events on my editorial website. Read more about participation in iSEE educational programming >>>
Hello! I am Kratika Tandon, a sophomore from Peoria, Ill., studying Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Human Dimensions of the Environment. I am also pursuing a minor in Political Science and plan on attending law school after graduation. I am incredibly passionate about sustainability issues and making a tangible impact. As an intern for iSEE’s Communications Team, I am covering my journey with the Environmental Leadership Program through a series of comprehensive posts. I look forward to getting hands-on experience in the environmental policy program and am excited about this opportunity!
Hello! My name is Asli Topuzlu, and I am a junior studying Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability. I am also double minoring in the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program (SEE FP) and Business. I am from Turkey, and I moved to the U.S. about six years ago. As an environmentalist, I am highly interested in sustainable development and reporting. My career aspiration is to work with companies to shift their practices more sustainably by ensuring their compliance with environmental regulations and helping them with ESG and sustainability reporting. In my free times, I love hiking, gardening, and traveling.
My LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/asli-topuzlu-a6b79b1b7
My name is Daniel Tsai, a first-year student studying architectural studies at the College of Fine + Applied Arts and looking to take urban planning as a minor. I love sports and have participated in track and field as well as soccer tournaments since a young age. In high school, I came in contact with environmental protection projects and have helped my school draft up an environmental policy. After learning of the ELP, I decided it was a good chance to continue to learn about environmental policies and apply the skills I learn in this program in my own major.
I am Andres Vazquez,a first-year student at the University of Illinois who is passionate about politics, government, and sustainability. Although I am currently enrolled in ACES, I plan on majoring in Political Science and minoring in Environmental Economics and Law. I plan to use the skills and experiences gained from the Environmental Leadership Program in my future career. Currently, I hope to run for public office and be a dedicated public servant to those around me and my community back home on the south side of Chicago.