As a member of the first graduate cohort of the Master of Advanced Studies in Climate Science and Policy (MAS CSP) program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC San Diego, Jaimie Huynh ('16) helped pave the way for a successful network of alumni. Her capstone project studied the cost-effectiveness of deploying renewable energy storage units in the City of San Diego to increase the environmental and economic benefits of becoming 100 percent renewable by 2030. After graduation, she worked for California Sea Grant before landing her current role as the Environmental Justice Scientific Advisor at the California Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Secretary.
Why did you choose to study at Scripps?
Through my work study at Scripps, I met a lot of passionate and knowledgeable professors. Their work really inspired me to continue studying there. It also helped that the location of Scripps is just too beautiful!
What was your most memorable experience during your time at Scripps?
There were many memorable experiences, so it's difficult to choose one. My classmates made the experience so vibrant and I couldn't have asked for better humans to be in the first cohort of the Climate Science and Policy program with. We spent countless hours in our offices working through math and physics problem sets, but we also made sure to find time to go grab tacos afterward to unwind. Spending time with them, no matter the situation, was always a good time.
What was your first job after graduating from Scripps?
My first job was with the California Sea Grant Fellowship. I was a Fellow at the California State Lands Commission focusing on sea level rise adaptation and environmental justice. I moved from San Diego to Sacramento for this role and have not regretted it! I learned a lot about the intersections of climate science and policy and how it was being implemented at the government level.
What is your current role?
I am currently the Environmental Justice Scientific Advisor at the California Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Secretary.
What is your favorite thing about your current role?
Inequity can be pinpointed as the root cause of a lot of the climate issues we see today. Government policies have existed to suppress Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color since the inception of the United States. Connecting the U.S. government's racist past and its correlation to current-day climate change and pollution impacts is incredibly important to acknowledge so we don't repeat those mistakes. Using this history and current-day pollution data to affect environmental policy in California is a unique opportunity! I work with passionate environmental justice colleagues who contribute to a supportive and creative work environment. The work and the people truly make this role incredible. I was always under the impression I would be working in research, pumping out papers, but now, I get the honor of dissecting scientific work and uplifting BIPOC communities' voices across the state to affect policy.
What was most helpful in transitioning to your career?
I was lucky to have very supportive supervisors and colleagues who have given me a lot of advice on navigating careers and how to approach different problems. Finding a community and supervisors who support your growth is incredibly important!
What advice do you have for current students?
Learn as much as you can in school, but be open to opportunities that may be out of your comfort zone. There are always opportunities to continue learning in your job! I would also recommend continuing to volunteer after college. I volunteer at a mutual aid regenerative farm that produces food for asylum seekers and recent immigrants. Volunteering with a community that wants and sees a better, more climate and community-friendly world, keeps my spirit up when we often hear daunting news about climate change.
What do you like to do for fun?
I am a rock climber, trail runner, painter, and recent crocheter! These hobbies keep me creative and get me outdoors.