Meet 4 Inspirational Women Working in Environmental Science Today

Women have made major contributions to climate change research and to broader analyses of global environmental issues. Yet, they are generally underrepresented in key disciplines for the study of climate change and many of them have faced various barriers to their success and recognition.

Here we proudly present four women working in climate science today.

Karin Bäckstrand
Professor in Environmental Social Science

Karin Bäckstrand is a Professor in Environmental Social Science at the Department of Political Science at Stockholm University. Her primary research revolves around global environmental politics, the role of science in environmental decision-making, the politics of climate change and the democratic legitimacy of global governance. Bäckstrand has been awarded several grants, led several research projects and written several books such as The Research Handbook on Climate Governance (co-edited with Eva Lövbrand, 2015) and Rethinking the Green State: Environmental Governance towards Climate and Sustainability Transition (with Annica Kronsell, 2015). In Civic Science for Sustainability: reframing the role of experts, policy-makers and citizens in environmental governance, Karin Bäckstrand reviews the notion of “civic science” in a global environmental governance and how it is articulated in international relations, science studies, democratic theory and sustainability science.

Heidi Cullen
Chief Science Advisor

Born in Staten Island, New York, Cullen received a B.S. in industrial engineering and operations research from Columbia University, followed by a doctorate in climatology and ocean-atmosphere dynamics from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Cullen started to work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), located in Boulder, Colorado, before she returned to Columbia University to contributed to a project which looked at the effect of climate on water resources in Brazil and Paraguay. Heidi Cullen then joined The Weather Channel, becoming their initial expert on climate change topics. Today, she is the chief climatologist for the not-for-profit organization, Climate Central, where she issues reports on climate topics. You can also find her at the nearby Princeton University, where she lectures. Heidi Cullen also authored The Weather of the Future, a book that gives one perspective of what different locations might look in the year 2050 based upon current climate modeling theories.

Lidia Brito
Forestry expert and engineer

Lidia Brito is a Mozambican forestry expert and engineer and university lecturer and researcher for Eduardo Mondlane University. She started by studying Forest Engineering in Mozambique before she decided to move to the U.S. to get both a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. degrees in Forest Sciences. Lidia Brito’s areas of expertise range from forestry and sustainable management of Natural Resources to Higher Education, Science and Technology policies as part of public policies for sustainable development. She was Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Eduardo Mondlane University from 1998 to 2000, and served as the first Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology of Mozambique from 2000 to 2005. Lidia Brito is an active participant and speaker in many international summits and conferences. More recently, she has served as Advisor of the Mayor of Maputo for Strategic Planning and External Relations, and she is the director of science policy and capacity building at UNESCO.

Sunita Narain
Environmentalist and political activist

While completing her studies at the University of Delhi in 1982, Sunita Narain joined the India-based research institute the Centre for Science and Environment, of which she is now the Director General. The Indian environmentalist co-edited the State of India’s Environment report in 1985, travelling across the country to understand people’s management of natural resources for a study related to forest management. Together with Anil Agarwal, Sunita Narain then wrote Towards Green Villages on the subject of local democracy and sustainable development. In her years at the Centre, she has studied the relationship between environment and development and worked to create public consciousness about the need for sustainable development. Sunita Narain remains an active participant, both nationally and internationally, in civil society. She also serves on the boards of various organisations and on governmental committees and has spoken at many forums across the world.

This article was published in The Beam #6 — Subscribe now for more