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Meet Living Lab Fellows in Campus Sustainability

Eleni Alexandraki (she/her) is a doctoral student in Sustainable Design and Construction at Stanford University, where she conducts research on building decarbonization. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Design (2019) as well as her Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering (2021) from Stanford University. Eleni aims to leverage her interdisciplinary background in architecture, user-centered product design, and mechanical engineering to combat climate change in new and creative ways. At the moment, her doctoral research focuses on energy efficiency, whole building life cycle assessment, and energy modeling in the context of energy retrofits and zero carbon buildings. As a Living Labs Fellow, Eleni will focus on advancing the university’s efforts to decrease carbon emissions associated with construction projects.

Emily Blackwell (she/her) is an MS candidate in Sustainability Science and Practice at Stanford University, where she obtained her BS in Human Biology with a concentration in Environmental Impacts on Human Performance and a minor in Human Rights. During her senior year, Emily engaged deeply with human rights issues, researching the impacts and operations of accountability mechanisms within International Multilateral Development Banks for the Accountability Council. Further shaping her perspective, Emily served as a Social Change Intern for Stanford's Sustainability department during the 22/23 academic year, contributing to the Cardinal Clean program's mission to integrate sustainable technologies with community-driven action. As a Living Lab Fellow, Emily seeks to bring her social change expertise to the forefront, developing the operating principles for the Doerr School of Sustainability that pave the way for the integration of impactful policies and procedures. Beyond her academic pursuits, Emily also enjoys painting and hiking, and she actively contributes to the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program as a national team goalie coach.

Sam Bunke (she/her) is a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering working in the Tarpeh Lab. Her research focuses on electrochemical-assisted recycling of common plastics, such as PET, back to their original feedstock to circularize the plastics industry. Sam is passionate about sustainable waste management and applying a multidisciplinary approach to generate circular economies from waste streams. For her Living Lab Fellowship project, Sam will be continuing her work as a Zero Waste Intern for Stanford's Residential and Dining Enterprises department to develop a zero-waste innovation and education hub on campus. This facility will combine campus operations, academic research, and education in order to scale up resource recovery technologies and approaches to reach zero waste on Stanford campus and beyond.

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Sierra Castaneda (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the Earth Systems Science Department working in the Jackson Lab studying sustainable agriculture and food systems. She studies how sustainable management practices in agriculture can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and improve carbon and nitrogen cycling in soils. Sierra is passionate about building a more just and sustainable food system, and more accurately quantifying emissions both upstream and downstream in the food supply chain. As a Living Lab Fellow, Sierra will be working jointly with the Stanford Food Institute, members of Stanford Dining, and Stanford’s Scope 3 Emissions team to increase supplier engagement within Stanford’s procurement avenues, in order to quantify and model emission reduction pathways that Stanford Dining can implement on a year-by-year basis to achieve their emission reduction goals. The goal is to not only help Stanford reduce their food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 from its 2019 baseline levels, but develop a framework for increasing supplier engagement such that other institutions can implement such strategies. In addition to researching food and agriculture, Sierra also enjoys cooking plant-based meals for friends, surfing, and trail running.

Lihan Huang (she/her) is a second-year master's student majoring in Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from Duke Kunshan University. Shaped by her childhood near Taihu, a renowned eutrophic lake in the midst of climate change, Lihan's passion centers on reconciling nature and pollution control, as well as mapping out feasible routes to practical carbon neutrality. This deep commitment is rooted in her personal experiences. She has had experience in energy market data analysis and power dispatch modeling in S&P global. Lihan is excited to be part of the Living Lab Fellowship Cohort and contribute to carbon accounting in natural lands. During leisure time, Lihan loves traveling and enjoying various water sports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. She is also an amateur photographer.

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Elanna Mak (she/her) is B.S. candidate studying Data Science and Symbolic Systems. Having partnered with organizations like CNN and Feeding Hong Kong to advocate for sustainable food and agriculture, she is curious about the intersection between numbers and sustainability. She is passionate about alleviating the poverty that comes with climate change and applying optimization strategies to create not only data-driven but also economical emissions mitigation solutions. As a Living Lab Fellow, Elanna will be working with Stanford Business Affairs to analyze how Stanford University can develop an effective supplier-engagement program to reduce scope 3 emissions. She hopes to lay the groundwork not only for Stanford to significantly reduce its purchase-related carbon footprint but also foster a practical and tenable buyer-supplier framework that other institutions can model and benefit from. Outside of the classroom, Elanna enjoys watching Disney movies, playing the violin, and emphatic karaoke-ing.

Zander Opperman (he/him) is a biology major focusing in ecology and evolution. He has been involved in a variety of research projects studying bison, ants, eDNA and more, always with a focus in the natural world and understanding how we can be better stewards. Zander grew up at the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park in Montana where both of his parents are wildland fire professionals and is excited to continue exploring wildland fire as part of the Living Labs Fellowship. He will be developing a fire management plan for Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve by aligning values and interests of Stanford, surrounding communities, and fire agencies. He hopes to lay the groundwork for the eventual reintroduction of natural fire through controlled burns to improve ecosystems health and reduce unplanned fire risk to communities. Zander is a docent at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and a member of the Stanford Triathlon Club.

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Samantha (Sammy) Puckett (she/they) is a second year M.S. candidate in Mechanical Engineering with a B.S. in Product Design. Sammy is passionate about combining design and engineering to create more equitable, dynamic products and systems for under-served populations, which she explored in both her undergraduate senior and master’s capstone projects. Outside of academics, Sammy spends much of her time working on graphic and/or web design projects for small businesses, most recently collaborating on an activity-based specialized education program. As a Living Lab Fellow, Sammy is excited to work with the Stanford Transportation team and leverage her design skills to help create a wealth of digital resources that encourage more sustainable and equitable travel for and within the Stanford community (and finally get more people to ride the Marguerite).

Jeremy Rubin (he/him) is a M.A. candidate in Public Policy with a B.A. in Human Biology. With academic interests in environmental policy, sustainability, and communication, Jeremy has  worked toward helping to build a more healthy and resilient planet through equitable environmental policy and law. He will utilize that background as a Living Lab Fellow to explore and study carbon offsets for Stanford’s scope 3 emissions and help determine if, and how, the University should use offsets to reach net-zero emissions. Jeremy has previously interned with the Environmental Defense Fund through the Schneider Fellowship as a blue economy intern, served as the Volume 260 Executive Editor for Print at The Stanford Daily, and was a communications assistant for the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions.

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Nikita Salunke (she/her) is a M.S. candidate in Sustainability Science and Practice with a B.A. in Economics. After witnessing the negative effects of wildfires in her hometown, Nikita grew committed to design sustainable and equitable solutions for communities most affected by climate change. As a Schneider Fellow, she worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council to identify renewable energy siting challenges to reach the 2030 emissions reduction targets domestically. On campus, she has worked with R&DE’s Zero Waste team to redesign the external waste enclosure system to reduce costs and achieve zero-waste goals. With Stanford’s Scope 3 Team, she spent the last year developing a dynamic carbon pricing program to achieve net-zero emissions from University air travel. As a Living Lab Fellow this year, she’s excited to help build out the University’s EV charging infrastructure plan, in accordance with recent policy orders at the state and federal level. Nikita loves finding ways to spend time outdoors; for the past three years, she has led SPOT–camping trips for incoming frosh/transfers. If not outside journaling or folding a crane for a friend, you can find her learning to play the piano at Braun.

Sergio Sánchez (he/him) is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the E-IPER. He is an environmental advocate and believes that energy policy around the clean energy transition should center on the unique qualities of the communities, recognize past harms, and amplify the voices of those most marginalized by the current energy system. His research aims to put equity at the center of energy policy and to accelerate the clean energy transition. Sergio holds a bachelor's degree in international business from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico, an LLB from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and an LLM in environmental law & policy from Stanford Law School. Before coming to Stanford to pursue his Ph.D., he worked as an energy advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council's San Francisco office. Sergio will be working in the electrification of Stanford's O'Donohue Family Educational Farm.

Sze En Tan is a junior majoring in Earth Systems (with a focus in Human Environmental Systems) and Economics. Originally from Singapore, Sze En spent her final two years of high school in the suburbs of Chicago. Her passion for the global energy transition and appreciation for the multidisciplinary nature of climate policy have driven her academic pursuits. This past summer, she was a research assistant at the Bill Lane Center, working on water security policy and governance in the Central Coast. When not attending classes or conducting research, you can find Sze En on Meyer Green, drinking an iced vanilla latte!

Yuan Tang (she/her) is a master's student in the Sustainable Design and Construction program in CEE, specializing in sustainable urban systems and net-zero energy building design. Having previously garnered invaluable experience in the realm of life cycle assessment project in SFO international airport and LEED assessment experience in Starbucks China Coffee Innovation Park (CIP) , Yuan's background equips her with a strong foundation in sustainable practices and eco-friendly design principles. With experience in carbon neutrality, she joins the travel/study carbon assessment & action plan team for her Living Lab Fellowship. She's excited to contribute to reducing scope 3 carbon emissions at Stanford University and building a more sustainable community.

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Jayson Toweh (he/him) is an E-IPER PhD student focusing on identifying the health, environmental, and social impacts of climate change and creating co-benefits from developing sustainable energy transition. While at Stanford he's worked as a fellow at The World Bank, United Nations Foundation,  and Second Nature on climate solutions. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan’s Program in the Environment and a master’s degree in Environmental Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His thesis focused on evaluating and mapping emission changes after installing scrubbers to coal power plants. Prior to Stanford, Jayson worked as a Management and Program Analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Inspector General, where he evaluated EPA's water programs and made recommendations for improvement. Jayson was elected and serves on the Harvard Board of Overseers, the university's governing board.

Linda Vera (she/her) is a B.A. candidate in International Relations and minoring in Human Rights. Her IR specializations include National Security and Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources. Linda has experience conducting research with the Human Rights Department and the WMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, presenting her work at the 2023 April Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Public Service. Linda has had experience with k-12 education systems as she spearheaded a campaign for bilingual education in elementary schools with The Leaders Readers Network in 2020. She is passionate about developing environmental policies channeled through grassroots mobilization, and the pragmatic implementation of zero-waste methodologies within unconventional settings. Linda will continue to utilize her knowledge as a Zero Waste intern for going zero-waste with campus-based k-12 schools.

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Justin West (he/him) is a B.S. candidate in Computer Science, specializing in the Artificial Intelligence Track. He has conducted research on transitioning institutions to Zero Waste, with findings presented at the National Council of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and the Great Plains Honor Council (GPHC). With a background in cyber security from his tenure at NASA, Justin delved into digital forensics and Red Team tactics. He is deeply committed to the equitable use of data, having authored Artificial Intelligence Policy for the City of San Jose. In his previous role as a Sustainability Data Analyst for R&DE, he deployed a campus-wide Internet of Things (IoT) sensor network and developed machine learning models that notably decreased resource consumption. Currently, Justin is working on a project that integrates cutting-edge smart building technology with diverse databases and systems.