2014 Breakthrough Generation Fellows Arrive

Top Young Scholars to Conduct Cutting-Edge Research

An outdoors enthusiast who studies innovations systems at the Consortium for Policy, Science & Outcomes; a masters student at the Massachusetts Institute Technology performing nuclear fuel cycle analyses; a young woman who biked across two states to advocate for moving beyond fossil fuels; and a postgrad studying water governance who spent a year in rural China. These are among the 10 outstanding young thinkers will join the Breakthrough Institute this summer for research fellowships focused on crafting new approaches to major environmental challenges.

Breakthrough Generation Fellows work closely with research staff in small teams as they seek to deepen our understanding of trends in energy, conservation, and innovation.

Fellows will conduct substantive research in service of clear-eyed assessments of how energy and carbon emissions are embodied in global trade, the cost and complexity of innovation over time, and the land-use impacts of energy production.

In keeping with the Breakthrough Institute’s efforts to bring global perspectives to environmental questions, fellows will also explore how developing countries can expand access to energy services, as well as how socioeconomic conditions affect natural resource consumption and their effects on land and water use.

Now in its seventh year, the Breakthrough Generation Fellowship Program has helped send over 50 alumni on to exciting careers in policy, academics, government service, the private sector, and advocacy.

This year’s cohort brings fellows from top graduate and undergraduate institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan, with backgrounds in such subjects as innovation systems, Chinese politics, organizational theory, environmental studies, and engineering. Fellows have distinguished themselves from their peers by excelling in research and scholarship as well as professional endeavors at think tanks, non-profit organizations, and government and multilateral institutions, and are sure to go on to become leaders on the most pressing environmental challenges of the 21st century.

The Breakthrough Institute is proud to welcome the 2014 Breakthrough Generation Fellows and looks forward to a summer of engaging discussion and cutting-edge research.

Torrey Beek

Torrey graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 with a BS in environmental science. While at UNC, he was an active musician, serving as guitarist for the campus Gospel Choir, an R&B band, and a funk group. Following his stint at Chapel Hill, Torrey interned in the Town of Carrboro Planning Department, where he worked as a project developer for a community-financed renewable energy project. In September 2013, he received his MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems from the University of Edinburgh, where he managed to salvage enough time from his studies to perform in a reggae/ska band. His thesis focused on developing a predictive model of electricity demand for loads in a seaside community in Edinburgh, and then modifying the model to optimize incorporation of local renewable energy resources.

Sam Brinton

Samuel is completing a dual masters degree at MIT in Nuclear Engineering and the Technology and Policy Program. He is a graduate of Kansas State University with a BS in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, a BA in Vocal Music Performance, and a minor in Chinese. His research interests are concentrated on nuclear fuel cycle system analysis, fuel cycle economics, and dry cask nuclear waste storage analysis. Samuel's activism includes serving as the student director of the American Nuclear Society Board of Directors to ending conversion therapy across the country by speaking as a survivor of its horrors. He cofounded the NuclearPride organization to build an LGBT community in the nuclear science and engineering field, and created the Stand With Science campaign, which united 10,000 students and allies from across the country to advocate for federal science and engineering research funding.

Jonathan Crowder

Jonathan graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2013 with a BA in Markets and Culture. Jonathan is particularly fascinated by the intersection between public policy and organizational theory. In this vein, the primary emphasis of his writing has been the study of post-1965 systemic increases in US Congressional polarization. His additional interests include economic sociology, innovation theory, and behavioral economics.

Jacqueline Ho

Jacqueline recently completed four years as an environmental studies major at Brown, where she decided to focus her studies on energy and climate change after spending three semesters as a student climate activist, and eight weeks cycling across Rhode Island and Connecticut to help build the movement to transition beyond fossil fuels. She has worked on a cost-benefit analysis for an electric vehicle test-bed program for the government of Singapore, and helped to develop the City of Providence's first sustainability action plan. She wrote her senior thesis on the patterns of interaction between the Breakthrough Institute and the climate movement, in the process mulling over what makes us come to believe in the viability of any given climate change strategy. Jacqueline is from the sunny but as-yet-solar-panel-deficient island of Singapore. She loves overnight train rides in China, swing dancing, walking quickly, and being creative in the kitchen.

Seigi Karasaki

Seigi spent his undergraduate years absorbing the complexities of Chinese politics and environmental systems and societies at UCLA, and is now researching international cooperation as a master’s candidate at the University of Tokyo. His academic interests include water governance and the political economy of natural resources. Prior to his time in Japan, he volunteered for a year in Ningxia, China, in a rural town on the southern tip of the Gobi desert. As a graduate student, Seigi organized a TEDx event at his university, and was a consultant for the International Labour Organization. On weekends, you’re likely to find him at the local climbing gym, or somewhere in the backcountry.

Eric Kennedy

Eric is currently a PhD student at the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University. His research focuses on finding improved strategies to foster collaboration in solving complex and interdisciplinary real world problems. A graduate of the inaugural Bachelor of Knowledge Integration cohort at the University of Waterloo, Eric regularly brings together disparate disciplines in his academic work. He maintains active research projects in the fields of innovation systems & social innovation; collaboration across knowledge systems, epistemologies, and sectors; and interdisciplinarity & sociotechnical integration. Outside of academia, Eric is deputy chief of the Student Emergency Medical Services at Arizona State University. He’s a strong advocate for and supporter of the arts, and an avid musician himself. In his spare time, he’s likely found hiking, camping, paddling, or otherwise travelling within and beyond the Southwest.

Shawn Regan

Shawn holds a MS in Applied Economics from Montana State University and degrees in economics and environmental science from Berry College. He is a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, a nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving environmental quality through property rights and markets. His writings have appeared in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal, Quartz, High Country News, Reason, Regulation, and Grist. Shawn is also a former backcountry ranger for the National Park Service in Olympic National Park. Born and raised in Georgia, he now lives in Bozeman, Montana, where he enjoys hiking, skiing, and playing in the snow.

Kinnari Shah

Kinnari graduated from Princeton University in 2014 with a BSE in chemical and biological engineering (with a concentration in energy technologies) and a Certificate in Applications of computing. She is chiefly interested in how new energy technologies can make their way into markets and the juncture between computing and energy. After her summer at the Breakthrough Institute, Kinnari has plans to continue in the energy industry. She enjoys long walks on the beach and hates clichés.

Xi Wang

Xi will graduate with a MS from the environmental studies program at University of Colorado, Boulder, in summer 2014. Xi is interested in understanding the role of policy in facilitating large-scale transitions to renewables. Most recently, she has been examining how the most popular renewable policy in the United States today -- the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) -- emerged in California not as a predetermined outcome, but as a result of contingencies. Xi has also been working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on renewables curtailment research. Prior to graduate school, Xi worked as a strategy and technology consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, DC. While there, she also engaged in social, food, and environmental justice activism. She has also worked on organic and subsistence farms in Washington, DC, Spain, and Ecuador. Xi earned a BA in English literature from Cornell University.

Arthur Yip

Arthur is currently a masters student in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT. He will be continuing on as a PhD student in the Engineering Systems Division in fall 2014. His research work is housed under the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and involves the analysis of the global prospects and impacts of natural gas vehicles in a general equilibrium economic framework. Arthur grew up in Vancouver, BC, and graduated from the University of Waterloo, ON, with a BAS in chemical engineering in 2012. During school terms, he led and participated in many activities, including advocating for global engineering education with Engineers Without Borders Canada; writing for the Ontario Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, participating in the Equinox Summit – Energy 2030; competing in the 2012 Walmart Green Challenge; and contributing to research on energy hubs and energy storage. At MIT, he has helped organize the MIT Energy Conference and has participated in the MIT Science Policy Initiative's education and advocacy activities.

To read more about the Breakthrough Generation fellowship, click here.