Student fellows collaborate for a healthier planet

August 10, 2017

Policy strategy and research on extreme heat and livelihoods are the focus of summer graduate fellows Ivana Andrade and Landon Smith. The two students are inaugural fellows in a program sponsored by the UCGHI Planetary Health Center of Expertise (PHCOE), in partnership with the California Department of Conservation (DOC).

Ivana Andrade

Master of public policy candidate, UC Riverside.

Andrade’s master’s project at UC Riverside (UCR) examines the barriers that women face in attaining health services – with a focus on drafting policy solutions that address poverty and uphold the principles of sustainable economic development.

As a PHCOE summer fellow, Andrade works at the California Department of Conservation in Sacramento, gaining new insights and ideas on policy strategy. She regularly attends hearings at the Capitol, meets with members of the legislative counsel, assists with educational outreach and conducts preliminary research for future bill proposals. Working across different divisions gives her wide-ranging, hands on experiences. So far, Andrade says the highlight has been meeting with legislative staff on a daily basis.

Andrade said that her time in Sacramento, “has been an excellent opportunity to not only gain an insider’s perspective of the legislative process, but to also connect what I have observed in my master’s training regarding provision of services, with the efforts made in Sacramento to establish and maintain those services. These insights are valuable to my research because I now have a deeper understanding of the teamwork that goes into enacting policy.”

She added, “I have been astonished by the interdepartmental efforts involved in drafting policy proposals, making me realize that policymaking is less compartmentalized than I previously thought. Although staff in each department have their individual concentrations, they must work together and with members from other departments to formulate policy ideas and consider viewpoints of the issue that they are not necessarily familiar with.”

“The need for collaboration spans many planetary health issues, and students seeing it in action can be transformative for considering future career paths,” according to Woutrina Smith, DVM, MPVM, PhD, co-director of the PHCOE and professor of infectious disease epidemiology at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Landon Smith

International political economics major, sociology minor, University of Puget Sound

This summer, Smith is working with two PHCOE faculty – Federico Castillo, PhD of UC Berkeley and Woutrina Smith of UC Davis – on research and communications topics related to extreme heat and livelihoods.

At UC Berkeley, Smith is learning about how heat waves impact local agricultural workers and the legislation that is currently in place to protect these workers. At UC Davis he is interviewing experts who work with the Center of Expertise and drafting communication pieces for the publication Heat in 2050 and beyond, health impacts that agricultural laborers face, and benefits of cross campus collaborations for the Planetary Health Center of Expertise.

The one event that stands out most for Smith is an interview with Dr. Michael Wehner from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “He explained that my generation has lived on an earth that is hotter than the global average, making us the first humans to ever live on an earth this warm,” Smith said. “While that is the case now, future generations in 2050 and beyond will have been living on a planet hotter than the one we know now.”

Smith’s fellowship experience has inspired a shift in his undergraduate interests. He is currently exploring how to incorporate changing global climates and increasing temperatures trends into his course of study.