Introducing the 2022 Environmental Fellows

July 12, 2022
Introducing the 2022 Environmental Fellows

HUCE announces new cohort of postdoctoral researchers

The Harvard University Center for the Environment announces the 2022 class of Environmental Fellows: Marissa Childs, Matt Johnson, Matt Tarduno, and Julia Yang. 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.



School: HSPH
Faculty Hosts: Francesca Dominici & Christopher Golden
PhD: Environment and Resources, Stanford University

Marissa Childs researches the health effects of environmental change, focusing on both infectious disease transmission and environmental pollutants. 

Marissa received her PhD from the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University and received a BA in Mathematics and Economics - Environmental Studies from Whitman College. Her work brings together approaches from disease ecology and climate econometrics to study the impacts of land-use change and climate change on health outcomes. Her dissertation research focuses on understanding the environmental conditions that align to predict yellow fever virus spillover from non-human primates to human populations, estimating the impact of small-scale gold mining on malaria transmission in the Brazilian Amazon, and quantifying wildfire smoke exposure in the United States. 
As an Environmental Fellow, Marissa will work with Professors Francesca Dominici and Christopher Golden of HSPH to study the effects of climate and land-use change in Madagascar, leveraging methods in causal inference to estimate the health impacts of these changes. 



Department: History of Science
Faculty Host: Gabriela Soto Laveaga & Victor Seow
PhD: Energy and Environmental History, Georgetown University

Matthew P. Johnson is an energy and environmental historian whose research area is modern Latin America (with emphasis on Brazil and the Caribbean).

Matthew is especially interested in projects that relate to energy, dam-building, and socio-environmental justice, as separate and overlapping issues. He wrote his PhD dissertation (Georgetown University 2021) about the social and environmental impacts of Brazil’s big hydropower dams. In light of the anthropogenic climate crisis and urgent calls to divest from fossil fuels, he decided that historical research the socio-environmental footprint of low-carbon energy (i.e., renewables) would be important to inform a just energy transition. To date, hydropower has spared the Earth’s atmosphere more carbon emissions than any other sources of low-carbon energy, and Brazil is among the world’s top producers of hydropower, both in terms of gross production and percentage of electricity consumed. But Brazil’s dams are also some of the world’s most controversial, with massive social and environmental impacts that fell hardest on indigenous communities.
As an Environmental Fellow, Matthew will finish his second research project, an environmental history of the Caribbean’s oil refineries. During the twentieth century, many Caribbean governments welcomed oil refining as a means of industrial growth and access to cheap fuel. The region boasted some of the world’s biggest refineries, which brought immense benefits to companies, consumers, and local governments. However, these facilities also produced deleterious and long-lasting health and environmental impacts.



School: HKS
Faculty Host: Robert Stavins
PhD: Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley

Matthew Tarduno is an environmental economist studying how individuals' beliefs and biases impact their demand for environmental policy. 

Matthew earned his BA in Mathematics and Economics from Williams College in 2016, writing his undergraduate thesis on consumers' responses to British Columbia's carbon tax. After a year working as a research assistant at Stanford University, Matthew began his PhD in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley, where he took courses in environmental and public economics. His doctoral dissertation consisted of three essays on the government's role in addressing externalities, with a particular focus on accounting for practical and political constraints when designing environmental policies. 

As an Environmental Fellow, Matthew will work with Professor Robert Stavins at HKS, using newly-developed survey methods to understand how individuals' beliefs and biases impact their demand for climate policy and air pollution regulations.



School: SEAS
Faculty Host: Boris Kozinsky
PhD: Materials Science and Engineering, UC Berkeley

Julia Yang is a computational materials scientist working on novel Li-ion battery electrode upcycling processes to reduce toxic leaching into the environment and create a circular economy for energy storage materials.

Julia earned a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, with an additional major in Physics, in 2016 and a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UC Berkeley in 2022 advised by Professor Gerbrand Ceder. She has advanced the theory and application of high-component systems using coarse-graining approaches with statistical methods to study next-generation, earth-abundant Li-ion electrodes. She has also evaluated density functional approximations and investigated the thermodynamics of Na-ion and K-ion energy storage electrodes.

As an Environmental Fellow, Julia will work with Professor Boris Kozinsky of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to understand the mechanisms of solvent interactions with critical minerals to develop green metals upcycling processes that are inexpensive, non-toxic, and adaptable to changing chemistries. They will utilize computational approaches and experimental collaborations to navigate, design, and optimize solvents with highly tunable physicochemical properties.