The Bren School interviewed students in the inaugural cohort of the Master of Environmental Data Science program - the MEDS Class of 2022 - to ask them what environmental issues are important to them, why they decided to attend Bren, and how the immersion in data science has changed their outlook.
Paloma Cartwright (MEDS '22) grew up on a small island in The Bahamas, where she spent most of her days on the ocean. She developed a passion for nature at an early age while also experiencing firsthand the impacts of climate change on her home, surviving yearly hurricanes and witnessing the constant depletion of marine ecosystems surrounding her island. To gain the skills to solve these issues, she headed to McGill University where she completed a BA in Computer Science and Environment in June 2021. Throughout her undergraduate career, she interned with the Bahamas Sea Turtle Research Institute and the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation - Sharklab. This work inspired her to dive into data science to develop the skills to do more with environmental data.
What is a place that inspires you ecologically, such as a favorite ecosystem, place, or travel destination?
PC: The most inspiring place I have lived is my home country, The Bahamas. No matter where I go in the world and all of the places that I have visited, The Bahamas is still the place in the world that I believe is most beautiful.
What environmental issues are important to you?
PC: Climate change is the most important environmental issue to me. Climate change has been a reality my entire life, living through multiple devastation hurricanes that have had very real impacts on my country, island and family.
How did you learn about MEDS and why did you choose Bren?
PC: I decided to go to grad school because I wanted to be part of the solution after graduating with a Computer Science degree. I did not want to go into big tech but rather wanted to use my computer science skills to help solve today's environmental challenges. This lead to me looking into environmental data science programs and finding Bren. I chose Bren because of the emphasis on using data science specifically in the environmental discipline.
What is something that has been surprising about going to grad school?
PC: The community and collaboration has been eye-opening. It is very different than the attitude in the Computer Science discipline of undergrad. Everyone in MEDS wants to work together, help each other and support each other's success in any way they can.
What's next after Bren?
PC: After Bren, I will be pursuing my PhD using my data science skills to advance solutions to problems caused by climate change in The Bahamas.
What's your advice for prospective MEDS students?
PC: Your peers are your biggest asset in this program, do not be afraid to collaborate and ask questions as you are all getting though it together.
What's an interesting fact about you?
PC: I have been an avid sailor since I was five years old and have competed for Team Bahamas internationally for over 10 years.