Udall Foundation honors three students for their environmental work

Two rising Yale College seniors — Naomi Shimberg and Gavrielle Welbel — have been named Udall Scholars for their commitment to environmental protection, and rising junior Grace Cajski has been recognized by the Udall Foundation with an honorable mention in the environmental category.

Shimberg and Welbel are among 55 students from 49 colleges and universities selected as Udall Scholars, and Cajski is one of 55 students awarded honorable mentions.

A 20-member independent review committee selected this year’s group of Udall Scholars and Honorable Mentions from 382 applicants nominated by their institutions across the United States. Scholars are selected on the basis of their commitment to careers in the environment, tribal public policy, or Native health care, as well as for their leadership potential, record of public service, and academic achievement.

Shimberg is majoring in ethics, politics, and economics as well as energy studies. Her long-term goal is to coordinate the U.S.’s economic approach to climate change. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she was a researcher in Yale’s Department of Economics and at Climate XChange, a nonprofit focused on state-level climate policy. She has also worked in Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management. On campus, Shimberg produces “Pricing Nature,” a podcast on the economics of climate change, and has served as president of the First-Year Outdoor Orientation Program.

Welbel is studying mechanical engineering and earth and planetary science. In 2020, she co-founded Zumwalt Acres: A Regenerative Agriculture Community in Sheldon, Illinois with her twin sister. Their mission is to galvanize the next generation of farmers, scientists, and activists to build a better food system and tackle climate change. Their work is grounded in sustainable land stewardship, education, and scientific research, and is guided by Jewish values. With the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, Welbel’s research focuses on field-based trials to understand the potential to capture carbon and increase soil health by applying enhanced mineral weathering in agricultural settings. She also works for the Yale Sustainable Food Program, is a member of the Yale Modern Dance Collective and Yale Dance Laboratory, and serves as a board member for the Jewish Farmer Network.

Honorable Mention winner Grace Cajski is interested in marine conservation and science communication, with a particular focus on aquaculture and seaweed. At Yale, she supports community-based conservation efforts through her work with the Yale Sustainable Food Program and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. She has published her work in Oceanographic Magazine and ECO Magazine, and has work forthcoming in the Willowherb Review. She is also a 2022 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ernest F. Hollings Scholar.

The nomination process for Udall Scholars at Yale is administered by the Office for Fellowships & Funding in the Center for International and Professional Experience. Students interested in applying for Yale’s nomination should contact lindsay.lawton@yale.edu.

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