UConn Students and Faculty @ COP22 in Marrakech

cop22cover-fbThis year’s Conference of Parties (COP22) climate change summit will be held in Marrakech, Morocco from November 7-18. On 5 October 2016, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. During COP 22, parties will begin preparations for entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The Carbon Brief  introduces the meeting as follows:

Climate change will once again become the focus of global diplomacy next week, as countries gather in Marrakech for the UN climate body’s (UNFCCC) 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22).

In many ways, COP22 will be the nerdy friend to its glamorous Parisian predecessor. Last December, the world’s attention swivelled to France as rival nations finally cooperated to sign the first global climate deal.

The Paris Agreement set the overarching framework for dealing with climate change in the decades to come. But alone it will not solve the problem, and nations now have the task of fleshing out the details. The following issues are likely to prove key to this round of negotiations:

UConn is an international leader in climate change science, engineering, and policy, and consistently ranks among the top ten greenest universities in the world and the U.S.  UConn is among the growing list of top research universities, private and public, that are participating in the historic United Nations climate change conference and related events in Paris. A team of students, faculty and sustainability staff will attend this conference in order to:

  • Empower the UConn contingent to interact and develop relationships with international groups and peers in order to improve our understanding of climate change science and policy, and expand opportunities for collaboration,
  • Provide a group of UConn’s most promising students and future climate action leaders with a unique opportunity for global academic enrichment and a deeper appreciation for the process of international diplomacy and consensus building,
  • Leverage the experiences of these students to engage the larger UConn community through projects developed and implemented during and after the conference, and
  • Highlight UConn’s standing as a leader in climate change through our active participation and communications using a variety of media.

Organizing Committee

UConn@COP21 Organizing Committee

*Mark Urban – Associate Professor, EEB

*Anji Seth - Associate Professor, Geography and Chair, Atmospheric Sciences Group

Jim O’Donnell – Professor, Marine Sciences and Executive Director, CIRCA

Guiling Wang - Professor, ENVE and Executive Committee, Atmospheric Sciences Group

Zahra Ali - Director, Global Partnerships & Communications, Global Affairs

Joe MacDougald – Director, Center for Energy & Environmental Law, Law School and Director, CIRCA

*Oksan Bayulgen - Associate Professor, Political Science, Faculty Director – Global House

*Rich Miller – Director, Office of Environmental Policy (OEP)


Organizing Staff – UConn@COP21

Cherie Taylor, Administrative Coordinator, OEP

Matthew Lakenbach, Program Assistant, Global Affairs

*Sarah Munro, Sustainability Coordinator, OEP (Ph.D Student, Poli. Sci.)


*Traveling with the UConn contingent

Meet the Students

COP22 Fellows

Christen Bellucci

Christen Bellucci is a junior majoring in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Human Health. She grew up on Long Island, New York, where she first developed a strong interest in the sciences. At UConn, Christen is Co-President of the EcoHusky student group and a sustainability intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, where her roles include organizing the annual Earth Day Spring Fling event and editing the OEP blogs and newsletters. Christen aspires to be a middle or high school science educator, and hopes to extend her experiences at UConn and COP22 to her future students. 


Ben Breslau

Ben Breslau is a junior, pursuing a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Wildlife Conservation. He is an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy, where he works as the lead intern on the annual EcoMadness competition and the 2016 Environmental Leadership Awards Ceremony. He also serves as Vice President of ECOalition, and actively participates in organizations such as EcoHusky, the UConn Scouting Association, and Maimonides. Ben greatly enjoys the outdoors, and loves to go biking and camping whenever possible. 


Kristin Burnham

Kristin Burnham is pursuing a B.S. in Pathobiology and B.S. Molecular and Cell Biology. In 2015 she graduated from The Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School. Currently, she co-leads an incredible team of undergraduate engineers from the UCONN chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The undergraduate engineers are working with professors from Ethiopia, UCONN faculty and Professional Engineers to develop a sustainable irrigation system for small rural farming community in Woreta Zuria, Ethiopia. Kristin’s work on this project sparked her interest in the impact climate change has on food security and health. Her other passions include running during thunderstorms, wilderness medicine and infectious diseases. 


Hannah Casey

Hannah Casey is a junior at UConn and is from Higganum, CT.  She is currently an intern at the Office of Environmental Policy where she works on getting grants for the Campus Sustainability Fund, assists with Green Game Day, and helped with planning the COP22 trip. She has previously interned at Dominion Power Station Environmental Laboratory and will be living in Clarksburg, West Virginia this upcoming summer to intern at Dominion Hope Gas. Hannah is also vice-president of EcoHusky and has always had an interest in the environment. She wants to extend that interest to her career, so she is currently pursuing her B.A. in Environmental Studies while simultaneously working on her master’s degree in Public Policy. She wants to create environmental policies and eventually go into Environmental Law. Aside from the environment, Hannah enjoys kayaking, hiking, painting, and her cat Chester. This will be Hannah’s first time travelling outside of the United States and she is extremely excited to represent UConn at COP22! 


Stephanie Hubli

Stephanie is a Senior majoring in Environmental Engineering. She works on campus as an engineering tutor, has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant, and captains the UConn Women's Ultimate Frisbee Team. Stephanie spent her Sophomore summer researching trace metal removal capacity of a constructed stormwater treatment wetland system. She currently works as a water resource design engineering intern at a Civil/Environmental Engineering firm. She chose the engineering track, in particular, because she wants to stress the application of these engineering principles in order to improve and preserve environmental quality. As an Environmental Engineer, she hopes to apply the knowledge she gains at the conference by incorporating sustainability in her profession through every facet of design.


Eddie McInerney

Eddie McInerney is currently a junior pursuing a degree in Political Science at the University of Connecticut, with a minor in Environmental Studies. Last spring, he studied the equity implications of national plans for carbon emissions reductions, and analyzed submissions to COP21 by different members of the G20, which includes some of the most economically powerful countries in the world. He is also a member of EcoHusky on campus, and has had a general interest in the implications of global climate change on international discourse from a young age (mostly due to a dad and sister who couldn't stop talking about it). 


Wyatt Million

Wyatt Million’s friend once said, "I wished I loved something as much as Wyatt loves plants." Even though Wyatt planned to go to graduate school for marine biology and not botany, he is proud to be seen in this way. His love for all things natural started during his childhood and has only grown throughout the years. Wyatt became a biological science major so he could conserve the things that are such an important part of his life. While he still has far to go, he believes that he is on the right path to achieve this goal. Now as a senior, Wyatt is working on his Honors Thesis dealing with symbiotic green algae under the advisement of Dr. Louise Lewis. In addition to academics, he is a member of the Division I cross country and track and field team here at UConn as well as a representative in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In the off season, he hits the Northeast's raging rivers with his fellow boaters in UConn Whitewater Kayaking Club. He has plans to enter graduate school to earn a PhD in marine science, a field where understanding the effects of a warming climate is hot topic, pun intended.


Genevieve Nuttall

Genevieve Nuttall is studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology while working on a combined Master's degree in Conservation Biology and Biodiversity. She plans on working in avian conservation, but is interested in all environmental fields! She is looking forward to the chance to learn more about climate change in Morocco which is a country she has always wanted to visit.


Usra Qureshi

Usra Qureshi is currently a sophomore student double majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Human Rights. She is a full time activist, spending her time assisting displaced and resettled refugees, as well as engaging in meaningful dialogue on international social and political issues with the intention of invoking change. Her interests in both the sciences and humanities spearhead her desire to practice medicine in underrepresented and impoverished settings. With this career goal in mind, she makes an effort to diversify her frame of thinking through programs and activities inclusive of the world perspective. In her free time, Usra enjoys photography/videography as well as other forms of art, often collaborating with her friends on projects meant to "capture the moment". 


Klara Reisch

Klara Reisch is a molecular and cell biology major and chemistry minor, and is a Senior Resident Assistant in the NextGen Hall for EcoHouse. She is in the honors program and a STEM Scholar. During her freshman year, she received the Holster Grant to do research over the summer in the MCB department doing wet lab research on microbes. Klara is the president and founder of a student-lead organization on campus called Honors in STEM and am a team leader for an alternative break on campus. She was born in Germany and enjoy traveling and learning new languages and cultures.


Brook Siegel

Brooke Siegel is a junior undergraduate student studying Environmental Studies and Urban and Community Studies. She has a career goal of working in the field of sustainability with an eye towards urban planning and environmental design. Brooke is the President of Pencils of Promise, a club on campus that raises money to build schools in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos. In addition, she is a Solar Ambassador Intern in which she participates in crowd funding and community outreach programs to educate the Mansfield community on solar energy. The goal of her fundraising is to bring a nonprofit in Windham, CT solar power by the Summer of 2017. Brooke hopes that after COP22 UConn will take a big step towards lessening their carbon footprint.


Margaux Verlaque-Amara

Margaux Verlaque-Amara is an honors Molecular & Cell Biology major and a Chemistry minor. She is deeply passionate about health equity, particularly interested in the link between an individual's environment and their health. She hopes to make strides in areas such as environmental racism and environmental justice in her future. In her free time loves to dance, paint, and play with her cat, Oscar.