News Story

May 26, 2016

Introducing the 2016-18 Environmental Fellows


The Harvard University Center for the Environment extends a warm welcome to the newest class of Environmental Fellows: Evan Hepler-Smith, Kaighin McColl, Prineha Narang, Kelsey Sakimoto, and Daniel Zazzamia. These fellows will join a group of remarkable scholars who will be beginning the second year of their fellowships. Together, the Environmental Fellows at Harvard will form a community of researchers with diverse backgrounds united by intellectual curiosity, top-quality scholarship, and a drive to understand some of the most important environmental challenges facing society. 

Evan Hepler-Smith

Evan Hepler-Smith is a historian of science who studies the management of data and information in the chemical sciences and chemical regulation.

Evan earned an A.B. in literature from Harvard College in 2006 and an M.A. in history from Princeton University in 2012; he will earn a Ph.D. in history of science from Princeton in 2016. At Princeton, his research focused on the historical development of the technological, institutional, and political infrastructures of chemical information, including how the structure of chemical databases has shaped the enforcement of environmental regulations. His graduate work has been recognized with fellowships and prizes from Princeton, the History of Science Society, and other organizations.

As an Environmental Fellow, Evan will work with David Jones from the Department of the History of Science and the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at the Medical School. He will pursue research at the intersection of toxicology, environmental regulation, and information technology, exploring the taken-for-granted systems that mediate access to information about environmental risks and threats. Through interdisciplinary collaborations, Evan aims to illuminate the crucial role of things like metadata standards and nomenclature schemes in efforts to control the effects of chemicals on human bodies and the environment.


Kaighin McColl

Kaighin McColl is a hydrologist who studies the terrestrial water cycle and its coupling with the atmosphere.

Kaighin earned a B.E. in environmental engineering and a B.Sc in applied mathematics from the University of Melbourne in 2009. After graduating, he worked as a water resources engineer in the private sector, as well as a research assistant at the University of Melbourne. He moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012, graduating with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering in 2016. His doctoral research primarily focused on the physics of turbulent exchanges of heat and momentum between the land and atmosphere. He also contributed to NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite mission, which measures soil moisture and vegetation properties from space.

As an Environmental Fellow, Kaighin will work with Zhiming Kuang from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He plans to work on interactions between clouds and fluxes of heat and moisture from the land-surface. He will also explore possible causes of a warm bias in weather and climate models over land, which may be related to missing land-atmosphere coupling in models. This work also has applications to water resources management, agriculture, and ecosystem health. 


Prineha Narang

Prineha Narang is a physicist and material scientist interested in the theoretical fundamentals of nanoscale energy transfer.

Prineha received her Sc.B. in materials science from Drexel University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow and Resnick Sustainability Institute Fellow. Her doctoral thesis focused on understanding light-matter interactions in areas ranging from quantum plasmonics to nitride optoelectronics. Simultaneously she was part of the Department of Energy Innovation Hub (JCAP) working on high-risk concepts in artificial photosynthesis (like plasmonic hot carrier-driven reactions) to make fuel directly from water, sunlight, and CO2. Prior to Caltech, Prineha worked with the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center on in situ TEM studies of energy storage devices.

A major challenge and opportunity for energy nanotechnologies is to rationally construct nanoscale devices from the bottom up that can mimic natural light-harvesting assemblies. As an Environmental Fellow, Prineha will investigate the theoretical fundamentals of nanoscale energy transfer and mesoscale dynamics of photosynthesis, at the intersection of quantum optics and chemical physics, for the design of next-generation light-harvesting and energy conversion devices.


Kelsey Sakimoto

Kelsey Sakimoto is a chemist interested in the sustainable production of fertilizer and beneficial soil microorganisms through solar energy for use in modern agriculture.

Kelsey earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from Yale University in 2012 while working with the laboratory of Prof. André D. Taylor on carbon nanotube photovoltaic devices. As a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow with Prof. Peidong Yang at UC Berkeley, he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry in 2016. While at UC Berkeley, he designed hybrid inorganic-biological organisms capable of high efficiency conversion of solar energy and carbon dioxide to fuels, food, plastics, and pharmaceutical products.

As an Environmental Fellow, Kelsey will work collaboratively with Prof. Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School and Prof. Daniel Nocera of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The interdisciplinary work will pair a photovoltaic “artificial leaf” and synthetically engineered microorganisms to catalyze the sustainable production of biofertilizers via solar energy. Additionally, the designer microorganisms themselves will serve as “smart” soil management agents to guard against over fertilization and detrimental agricultural runoff, as well as work symbiotically with plants and the native soil microbiome.


Daniel Zizzamia 

Daniel Zizzamia is a historian of the American West interested in the intersection of history and the earth sciences in environmental politics and natural resource policy.

Daniel earned a B.A. (2005) and M.A. (2007) in history from the University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. (2015) in history from Montana State University. His dissertation examined how the nineteenth and early twentieth century settlement of the U.S. West was affected by the material remains of its geologic history. While pursuing his Ph.D., Daniel also worked as a project manager and technical lead for the John Tyndall Correspondence Project, funded by the National Science Foundation.

As an Environmental Fellow, Daniel will work with Ian J. Miller of the Department of History. He plans to develop his dissertation into a book that explores how coal, scientific knowledge, industrial technologies, and religious belief combined to encourage Americans to imagine a West that was not perpetually arid, but rather naturally malleable. This project bridges the gap between scientific inquiry and historical research, and directly pertains to energy and climate policy. In order to generate knowledge that will help guide policy that is both scientifically sound and resonates with the public, Daniel is especially interested in working with faculty in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He will also begin a project on how the geologic history of North America was crucial to creating America’s national parks and promoting western tourism.


Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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