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Joint MS Graduates Take the Plunge: Crossing Boundaries

Newly minted E-IPER environmental leaders head out into the real world.

New Leaders Take the Plunge
This Spring E-IPER is graduating its third cohort of Joint Masters of Science students, sending three Joint MS-JD and six Joint MS-MBA students on to a number of influential, environmentally relevant positions in non-profit organizations, law firms, and clean energy business and investing.

We sat down with a handful of these students to discuss their E-IPER experience and its influence on their career choices. Their paths were as varied as the students themselves, but everyone noted that E-IPER's flexible structure that allows each student to chart his or her own unique path is one of the great hallmarks of the program

For Michael Dawson, who will be the director of business development for the energy efficiency company OPOWER, having the E-IPER Joint MS on his resume was key to receiving that job offer, as E-IPER allowed him to show "the cleantech start-up community his seriousness about being a leader in that industry." Michael noted that "for a student interested in cleantech, E-IPER's Joint MS is the only program covering solar technology, carbon sequestration, and smart grid, courses which are offered in several different departments on campus."

Tom Mercer, currently a research project manager with Stanford's Program on Water in the West, jointly led by the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the Woods Institute for the Environment, agreed with Michael about the professional value of the Joint MS degree. Tom particularly appreciated the opportunity to explore a number of different interests in the environmental realm: from an initial interest in corporate sustainability strategy, to a collaboration with E-IPER PhD student Marilyn Cornelius on behavior change and residential energy efficiency, to his current work on water resources in the western US.

Jared Thompson will begin his legal career with Hogan Lovells, a Washington DC-based law firm, but first he will spend a year working for the Natural Resources Defense Council on a fellowship focused on climate change and water resources that Jared credits, in part, to his E-IPER Joint MS coursework. He also appreciated E-IPER's "wonderfully enriching intellectual experience" and the opportunity to build a professional network wider than the law school through his participation in the E-IPER community.

Greg Wannier, who will be a fellow at Columbia University's Center for Climate Change Law next year, echoed that the Joint MS sends an important message to potential employers, "It shows that I have gone out of my way to understand the complex systems the law intends to regulate." Through his E-IPER coursework Greg gained an overview of the science underlying energy systems and climate change, noting several classes that should be required for anyone interested in practicing energy law.

E-IPER's graduating Joint MS students will head out into world armed with a unique interdisciplinary environmental science and technology background that, combined with their professional degrees, will allow them to be environmental leaders and change agents in tackling the complex problems currently facing the planet.

Learn more about E-IPER's alumni on our web site.

Image credit: Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae), Vega Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, Jan. 2009, copyright Robert B. Dunbar.