Welcome, 2022 Breakthrough Generation Fellows!
Each summer, the Breakthrough Institute welcomes a new class of Breakthrough Generation fellows to join our research team for 10 weeks. Generation fellows work to advance the ecomodern project by deepening our understanding in the fields of energy, environment, technology, and human development.
Breakthrough Generation has proven crucial to the work we do here. Past fellows' research has contributed to some of our most impactful publications, including Where Good Technologies Come From, Beyond Boom & Bust, How to Make Nuclear Cheap, Lighting Electricity Steel, and Nature Unbound.
Introducing the class of 2022:
Patricia Mathu is a student of history and passionate about interdisciplinary approaches to agriculture. During her undergraduate career at the University of Texas at Dallas, she used archaeology and ethnobotany to study prehistoric land use, climate resiliency, and systems of food security in Illinois, England, Brazil, and Utah. She also spent two semesters working for non-profits promoting sustainable agriculture: Rural Investment to Protect the Environment, which advocates for farmer-first, climate-smart policy, and The Land Institute, an organization developing and scaling novel perennial crops. Last summer, she lived at Zumwalt Acres, a youth-led, regenerative farm and field site for exploring carbon-negative farming practices. She is so excited to bring all her experiences to her work at Breakthrough Institute this summer! Afterward, she will pursue a MA in anthropology at the University of Alabama.
Simant Verma holds a BS in Mathematics from the University of Delhi and an MS in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford. He has led the expansion of several grassroots projects including an indigenous beekeeping project in central India and an artificial ice reservoir technology in the Indian Himalayas. More recently, he worked with local governments of South Asia on climate knowledge brokering. Simant is interested in using data and economics to power economic growth and low carbon development. Outside of work, he enjoys bouldering, hiking, and cooking for friends.
Ian Peter Busuulwa is a student at KIIT University India pursuing an MSc in Biotechnology. He previously graduated with a BSc in Biotechnology from Makerere University where he was introduced to science policy when he joined efforts to advocate for genetic engineering regulation in Uganda. Since then, he has been involved in advocating for the adoption of agricultural technologies with the Uganda Biosciences Information Center and Science Stories Africa.
Ian recently developed a keen interest in synthetic biology and its role in driving the bioeconomy, or the share of the economy based on products, services, and processes derived from biological resources (e.g., plants and microorganisms). He views the bioeconomy as an avenue for promoting acceptance and applications of biotechnology — while improving livelihoods and sustainably growing economies. He has founded the Bioeconomy Coalition of Uganda where he is working on an assessment of the size of Uganda's bioeconomy to inform stakeholder decisions.
Ginger Harris is completing her BS in Science, Technology, and Society from Stevens Institute of Technology ('22). Her research focuses on the way that large societal problems and their perceptions influence individual and collective mental health. Previously, her research focused on nuclear preparedness and mental health in the United States. Her current goal is to understand the scope of climate change triggered youth mental health challenges and to develop solutions on how to address them effectively. Originally from Sacramento, she has a passion for studying all things climate in California, especially food systems. She plans to attend the University of Michigan in the fall to pursue a Master's in Environment and Sustainability with a dual specialization in Behavior, Education, and Communication as well as Environmental Justice.
Dhruv Modi is a graduate of the University of Chicago with a degree in Ecology and Evolution. His interests lie on the borderline between science and politics. He has worked in conservation research studying big cats for the World Wildlife Fund in India and endangered sage grouse in Montana. Although he is yet to finalize a research topic, Dhruv is about to begin a Master's in Environmental Studies where he is looking to investigate the expanding space of political ecology with a focus on environmental decision making in democratic political institutions. To this end, he is looking for opportunities to study and write about the relationship between climate policy and climate research.
Ethan Dickler is an MPA candidate at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He hails from a small tree and goat farm outside the rural town of Mineral Point, Wisconsin. From his upbringing situated between 50 miles of cornfields and 50 miles of forest in each direction, he developed an interest in agriculture and the environment. In 2021, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in English literature and European Studies. As a graduate student in public affairs, he is eager to apply his writing and research background to educating the public about the Anthropocene. As a Breakthrough Generation Fellow, he is excited to be on the food and agriculture track, where he hopes to further his understanding of the ecomodernist tradition. In his free time, you can find him in the corner of a local bookstore with a latte in hand and a beat-up copy of Ulysses.