Events & Media

Bret Callaway

Max Ludington

MESM Students Named Switzer Fellows

Two Bren master's students in the Class of 2014 have been awarded prestigious Switzer Fellowships from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation. Bret Callaway and Max Ludington are among 22 environmental scholars nationwide to have received a 2013 Switzer Fellowship, which includes a $15,000 cash award to complete a master's or doctoral degree that advances the fellow's skills and develops expertise to address critical environmental issues.

The fellowships are awarded based on an essay and an interview that reveal the candidates' potential as future environmental leaders, and previous work can be an important element.

Callaway received his fellowship for his work in "assessing ecological, economic and political drivers affecting Bureau of Reclamation dam site selection."

Ludington's fellowship wsa based on his work "investigating the role of the private sector in the conservation of critical ecosystems." He explains that his application essay and interview focused primarily "on work I completed with Argentina's national park service , the environmental issues that I see in the world that I plan to address in my professional career, and how my plan to work on these issues is unique."

To be more precise, he says, "I think that working in developing nations, where government institutions are weak, is both important and challenging. The normal approaches used in the western world often don't work because governments are too weak to enforce them. I believe in a grassroots approach that entails identifying where people's economic needs overlap with environmental needs and approaching those aspects first."

Bret believes that he received his fellowship based on "a combination of past experiences, personality, and future ambitions." During the interview, he adds, "I highlighted my interest in groundwater banking and market forces as solutions to the water crisis in the American West. I conveyed how working with Gary Libecap to evaluate the economics and politics of Bureau of Reclamation dam site selection criteria would provide valuable insight as to how these tools may be most effectively implemented, and I spoke about my experience in watershed restoration and its relevance to a career in water resource management." 

"Today’s environmental issues are increasingly complex and require an ability to translate scientific, ecological and social knowledge across disciplines and apply it in real-world settings," said Switzer Foundation Executive Director Lissa Widoff. "The 2013 Switzer Environmental Fellows are at the cutting edge of science and policy and will be supported with funding, professional coaching, and a network of leaders to help them achieve results. Their problem-solving abilities and innovation will make a difference."

The Switzer Foundation identifies, supports, and nurtures emerging environmental leaders. Fellowships are merit-based and rigorously competitive. Candidates must be recognized for their leadership capacity by their academic institution or by environmental experts.