Pixel Tracker

Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 12:07 pm | Mostly Cloudy 62º


UCSB Bren School to Hold Master’s Project Public Presentation

How can wolves and humans co-exist in California? How can UC Santa Barbara become carbon neutral by 2025? How can whale strikes by container ships be prevented in the Santa Barbara Channel? How can brewery waste be turned into packaging profitably? What is the best way to rezone the Galápagos Marine Reserve?

Students from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management will offer answers to these and other environmental questions Friday, April 29, 2016, when they present the results of their capstone master’s projects to a public audience at the Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton in Santa Barbara.

Master’s projects of two kinds — group projects and eco-entrepreneurship (Eco-E) projects — are a defining and distinguishing element of the Bren School master’s curriculum.

All Bren master’s students are required to complete a project and present their findings publicly, a process that provides them with unparalleled professional training.

“We hear a lot about the incredible diversity of environmental problems we face,” said Bren School Dean Steve Gaines. “Those who attend this event will be amazed by the kinds of things Bren students work on and the solutions they develop. The projects demonstrate that by tapping the talents of creative students, we can see highly innovative solutions develop faster than the problems, while launching problem-solvers into careers where they will continue to improve the world.”

In group projects, teams of three to five students spend the better part of a year collaborating with each other and with an advisor — typically a corporation, an NGO, a government agency and even UCSB — to develop a solution to an actual environmental challenge facing a real-world client.

Students working on Eco-E projects develop a business model to bring to market a product or service that addresses both a consumer and an environmental need.

Each year in April, the students present their group project findings and their Eco-E business models to an audience of project clients, faculty, friends, family and interested members of the UCSB and greater Santa Barbara communities.

These are not hypothetical case studies, but rather real, valuable consulting work for clients who have a stake in the outcome and have come to rely on the Bren School to provide comprehensive solutions to problems they may not have the time or expertise to address.

Working with their faculty advisors, the Bren students bring wide-ranging interdisciplinary skills to the projects. And, as Bren professor John Melack noted in a recent group project video, “They come up with solutions that not even big corporations have thought of themselves.”

“I tell students that the work they did on their group projects as students is guiding work that I do today,” says E. J. Remson, senior program manager for The Nature Company, which has been the client for seven group projects.

Most recently, in 2013, students developed floodplain conservation strategies for the lower Santa Clara River, which meets the ocean between Ventura and Oxnard. The stakes were high, because the students’ analysis was an early deliverable on a $4.5 million project.

“I had full confidence in them, but if for some reason it had fallen apart, I’d have been in trouble,” Remson said recently. “The work product was absolutely excellent, and I told many people that if we had paid a consultant a lot of money and they had produced that work product, I’d have been happy with it.”

Sean Hastings is resource manager for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS), which is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He regularly hires Bren graduates and has been the client for several group projects, including this year’s whale-strike project.

“Each group project brings me four to five eager, interested, capable master’s students who are perfectly trained to work with us,” Hastings said. “They are groomed through the rigor of their academic program and the statistical and GIS and ecological coursework they take, the negotiation skills they learn and their group projects. That perfectly suits them for public service and working specifically within NOAA. They can work anywhere, but honestly, selfishly, I like training them up to come to NOAA. We need the best and brightest to do this conservation and management work.”

In 2014-15, the NGO Defenders of Wildlife became a client for a group project that developed an optimization plan for siting utility-scale solar installations in California’s Central Valley.

Two of the students in that project ended up in Gov. Jerry Brown’s office, presenting their findings to a group of high-level stakeholders from utilities, farms, environmental groups and government agencies.

This year, the Defenders returned as a client for the project in which Bren students prepared recommendations on how to minimize the human-wolf conflicts resulting from wolves returning to Northern California.

“Every time we’ve interacted with people from Bren, we’ve found them to be extremely professional, very good at what they’re doing and very focused,” said Kim Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife California program director. “They produce high-quality work and approach problems in a very practical way. Science is moving quickly, and it’s challenging to stay on the cutting edge. The students bring fresh perspectives and new technologies, and we learn quite a bit. The school does an excellent job of training graduates to go immediately into conservation work at the highest level.”

UCSB, too, has been a repeat client, and group projects have addressed a range of sustainability issues, from energy and water efficiency to food and solid waste. For this year’s project, students developed a plan to meet UC president Janet Napolitano’s mandate that the campus be carbon neutral by 2025.

A previous project was used to establish UCSB’s long-term water-use strategic plan and helped to inform plans adopted by other UC campuses, also in response to a mandate from the UC Office of the President.

More information about the presentations, including a complete schedule, can be found at www.bren.ucsb.edu.

James Badham writes for the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.