Two Rausser College graduate students named 2022 Switzer Fellows

July 05, 2022

Congratulations to Energy and Resources Group master’s student Chelsi Sparti and Environmental Science, Policy and Management PhD candidate Leslie “Leke” Hutchins on being named 2022 recipients of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship.

Founded to cultivate the next generation of leaders across the public and private sectors, the competitive fellowship provides 20 graduate students at universities in California and New England with $17,000 to support their studies, research, and career development, as well as opportunities to engage local, state, and federal decision-makers in the policymaking process.

“Switzer Fellows offer much-needed support and inspiration for one another in a time of rapid environmental and social change,” says Sarah Reed, executive director of the fellowship program. “We are proud to welcome these environmental leaders to our community as 2022 Switzer Fellows.” 

Sparti’s research examines how communities in Puerto Rico recover livelihoods and electric systems after repeated extreme events. She is interested in how policy incentives in renewable technologies can mitigate risk from energy system vulnerabilities.

Her work aims to identify opportunities to decarbonize the grid through disaster recovery and measure how environmental justice contributions identify efficient climate investments.

Hutchins’ work focuses on Indigenous food and data sovereignty, and biodiversity conservation in Hawaiʻi. His socio-ecological work combines understanding the motivations, barriers, and the type of impact farmers have in their respective communities with community ecology and genomic tools to understand how whole communities of insects respond to different levels of crop diversification.

Ultimately, Hutchins hopes to create pathways for more Kānaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) farmers to access land, expand the extent of Indigenous agroecosystems, and bolster functionally and culturally important insect biodiversity.

Visit the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation website to read more about the 2022 Fellows.