Sustainability on Tap (Careers Edition!)

A research showcase and networking event for sustainability-minded students and scholars.
Thursday, October 8, 2020 | 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. | Virtual Event (Zoom)

What to Expect

Join us for a remix of Sustainability on Tap (Careers Edition!). In partnership with Texas Career Engagement, you’ll not only hear from graduate students as they showcase their sustainability or environmental research, project, or passion, but you’ll also hear from six UT advanced-degree alumni as they share their career journeys in sustainability. All talks will still be fun, fast-paced, and just 3 minutes long, and there WILL be cowbell! After the presentations, graduate students will have a chance to network with the alumni, ask questions, and learn more about their work, past and present.

From the comfort of your own sofa, feel free to enjoy a snack and beverage during the event! We encourage you to order food and drink from your favorite local vendor, and don’t forget about longtime Sustainability on Tap supporter Black Star Co-op!

This event is part of Campus Sustainability Month and is co-hosted by the Office of Sustainability, Texas Career Engagement, and The Graduate School.

5:00-6:00pm –  Research/Project Showcase
6:00-6:30pm –  Alumni Networking (graduate students only)

Interested in being a graduate student presenter? Showcase your sustainability or environmental research, project, or passion to your peers in three easy minutes! Submit your presentation idea here.

Alumni Presenters

  • Jennifer Cregar, Climate Advisor Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC)

    Jennifer Cregar, MPAff

    Climate Advisor Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC)

    Jen Cregar has 18 years of experience advancing policy and behavior changes to slow the pace of climate change and improve our collective quality of life. She has led sustainability teams for diverse organizations, including Austin ISD, the County of Santa Barbara, and Green Mountain Energy Company. She helped initiate Austin’s climate action work (while a student at the LBJ School), and again works with the City of Austin as the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge Climate Advisor to help accelerate Austin’s climate action progress. Jen holds a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT-Austin and a B.A. in Environmental Sciences and Environmental Management from The University of Virginia.

    LinkedIn ›

  • Kendall Ernst, Project Manager National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    Kendall Ernst, MS

    Project Manager
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    Kendall Ernst joined the Project Development and Finance team at NREL in 2019. He works with the Army’s Office for Energy Initiatives (OEI), whose mandate is to develop projects that improve the energy resilience of domestic Army installations. As an opportunity developer for the OEI, Kendall develops project concepts from technical, financial, and regulatory standpoints. Prior to NREL, Kendall spent 5 years at Rocky Mountain Institute, focusing primarily on low-income energy issues, international energy development, and offgrid energy access. He has worked in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Colombia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and across regulatory environments in the US. While at UT Austin, his research focused on engineering decision-making.

    LinkedIn ›

  • Rocío Villalobos, Community Services Program Coordinator (Immigrant Affairs) City of Austin, Equity Office

    Rocío Villalobos, MA

    Community Services Program Coordinator
    (Immigrant Affairs) City of Austin, Equity Office

    Rocío Villalobos is a native Austinite whose transnational childhood shaped her understanding of community, family, migration, inequities, and borders. For over 15 years, Rocío has been involved in social justice work in Austin, covering education, immigration, and the outdoors/environment. For a number of years, Rocío coordinated a visitation program for Grassroots Leadership to the T. Don Hutto detention center where asylum-seeking women were being held. She later worked as an advisor and the social justice education coordinator at the Multicultural Engagement Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Rocío eventually led community outreach at Texas Appleseed, where a large portion of her work focused on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Most recently, Rocío managed the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin at Westcave, where she focused on racial equity and youth leadership development in the outdoors. She is now thrilled to be a part of the City of Austin’s Equity Office, where she serves as the Immigrant Affairs Coordinator.

    Rocío received her B.S. in Applied Learning and Development and M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Cultural Studies in Education from the University of Texas at Austin. She volunteers her time as a Mentor with Explore Austin, a board member at Youth Rise Texas and Ecology Action, and she serves on the Dell Community Strategy Team.

    LinkedIn ›

  • Jason Hercules, Customer Success Manager UrbanFootprint

    Jason Hercules, MS

    Customer Success Manager

    Jason Hercules has taught and worked to implement sustainable urban planning for more than a decade. As the Customer Success Manager at UrbanFootprint he utilizes his years of planning and sustainable development experience—focusing on Smart Growth, green building, resilience, transit-oriented and mixed-use development— to ensure users have the best understanding of the UrbanFootprint platform and its applicability to their work.

    Previously Jason worked as a Subject Matter Expert at the U.S. Green Building Council and managed resource development projects for the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system and many other USGBC systems and programs. Additionally, he has advised groups such as the AIA Committee on the Environment, ULI Technical Advisory Panel and the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

    LinkedIn ›

  • Christine Wheatley

    Christine Wheatley, PhD

    Executive Director
    New-Age Environmental Development of Africa

    Dr. Christine Wheatley is an innovative applied sociologist, researcher, writer, and educator. She serves as Executive Director of New-Age Environmental Development of Africa (NED Africa), a Ghana-based social enterprise and charity organization dedicated to tropical forest restoration and the application of renewable energy technologies to build sustainable new economies and address climate change in cooperation with local communities. She works at the intersection of migration policy and sustainable development initiatives, currently starting up and directing a variety of projects including tree-planting (12 million+ planted to date), biogas, and waste-to-energy.

    A migration scholar with a B.A. in Sociology from Northland College, M.A. in Sociology from Colorado State University, and Ph.D in Sociology from UT-Austin, Dr. Wheatley is trained in quantitative and qualitative research methods and has long considered the relationships between policy, community development, and international migration. Currently, she leads a multimedia and ethnographic film project on climate migration, sponsored by the National Geographic Society. She also consults for the International Organization for Migration and develops and teaches courses on migration management to immigration and customs officials at Galen University in Belize. She has additionally held teaching positions at Southern Methodist University, Colorado State University, and UT-Austin. Her dissertation is a binational ethnography that examines the social impacts of U.S. deportation laws and policies on both sides of the U.S.—Mexico border for which she conducted participant observation and in-depth interviews over a 22-month period in hometowns of return migrants in Mexico and immigration detention centers and immigration courts in Texas. She has written numerous publications based on her research, including “Push Back: U.S. Deportation Policy and the Reincorporation of Involuntary Return Migrants in Mexico.”

    LinkedIn ›

  • Melissa Lott, Senior Research Scholar for the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University; and Principal Engineer at YarCom Inc.

    Melissa Lott, PhD

    Senior Research Scholar for the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University; and Principal Engineer at YarCom Inc.

    Dr. Melissa C. Lott is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy, where she leads research focused on the power sector and renewable power generation. She has worked as an engineer and advisor for more than 15 years in the United States, Europe, and Asia. While her work has spanned the entire energy system, Dr. Lott is internationally recognized for her work in the electricity and transportation sectors. For her research and contributions to global energy sector dialogues, Dr. Lott has been featured as a Solar 100 Thought Leader, an IEEE Women in Power, and a Forbes 30 under 30 in Energy.

    LinkedIn ›