Jaimie Huynh recently graduated from the Master of Advanced Studies in Climate Science and Policy (MAS-CSP) program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. A native of Los Angeles, Huynh received a bachelor’s degree in environmental systems with an emphasis on policymaking from UC San Diego. She is currently a marine technician in the XBT group at Scripps and soon will be starting a postgraduate fellowship with the California Sea Grant program working with the State Lands Commission.
What was the focus of your MAS-CSP capstone presentation?
I wanted to find 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. I used a modeling program produced by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to find the cost-benefit of using renewable energy storage units versus the current energy storage system SDG&E uses, which is natural gas.
Why did you choose Scripps/UC San Diego for this program?
When I first started my undergraduate career, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. I wanted to work with animals that were not your typical cat and dog. The first internship I applied for was working in a Scripps lab that deals with the effects of worms burrowing in sand and how that helps the ecosystem. Since then, I couldn’t stop thinking about how Scripps research affected the overall health of the earth and how that alone transitioned to helping these species of animals that I cared for. My goals then changed to dealing with environmental policy and how I could help influence policy to help the environment and its biology. I heard about the program from my undergraduate advisor and applied.
What are your long-term career goals?
I have worked in multiple agencies, in the private sector, academia, a non-profit organization, local government, and national government. From my experience, I found that I had the most impact working in local government and for non-profit organizations. I hope to continue working in such environments. I prefer being in a community that I can integrate myself into, understand its needs, and adjust environmental policy needs to the community.
How did the MAS-CSP program change your perspective on climate policy?
I used to think “climate policy” meant all the treaties the United Nations was working on with different countries. Now, I can see climate policy being brought down to the local level. Every city, every state, is being affected differently by climate change, so an overarching climate policy is not the way to adapt to climate change. Climate action plans are becoming more of the norm now and I can see them bringing great adaptation and mitigation ideas to different regions.
How has your MAS-CSP degree changed your career plans?
I remember trying to apply to jobs immediately after I graduated with an undergraduate degree and I was continuously shot down. The companies I applied for weren’t even places where I wanted to work! However, after getting my MAS-CSP degree, I was given many more opportunities that allowed me to use my knowledge for issues I care about. It provided me with the qualifications I needed to be successful in the field.
What has been the most beneficial thing you learned while in MAS-CSP program? How do you use this now?
The connections I made during the program have been the most beneficial to me. The peers in my program, peers from the PhD program, and the advisors have given me the resources I need to succeed.
What is your favorite memory from your time in MAS-CSP program?
During the last quarter of the program, my classmates and I tried to spend as much time together as possible. My favorite memory was going to Gabriel Arce’s apartment and celebrating the end of the year with Brazilian barbeque and the various appetizers that we all made. We exchanged gifts and praise for each other. I really don’t think I would have enjoyed the program so much if my classmates weren’t such great friends.
Would you recommend the MAS-CSP for those interested in this field? Why?
Absolutely! No other program in the U.S. has the kind of initiative that the MAS-CSP program has. There needs to be more policymakers that understand climate science and apply it to making economically sound judgments. I believe the program will continue to expand the number of people who can do that. The integration between climate science and policy is what will most benefit the earth and human health.