Clarke Knight

2016 Hellman Graduate Awardee

1st Year PhD in Environmental Science Policy and Management
UC Berkeley

Clarke Knight is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM), as well as a first-year in Berkeley’s new NSF Research Traineeship program called Data Science for the 21st Century (DS421). Her conviction that scientific research must not remain abstract and unsullied by real-world problems led to her interest in the application of science to recalcitrant environmental challenges, particularly climate change. With ESPM and DS421 providing a springboard, Clarke hopes to mitigate the environmental impact of a warming climate by marshalling “big data” and interdisciplinary analyses in an effort to craft coherent evidenced-based policy.

Her dissertation research will focus on the ecology and management of carbon as part of a major initiative to bolster the science supporting California’s climate legislation. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Berkeley’s top-notch faculty, and I’ll be joining the Battles and Potts labs to study the drivers of change in California’s vast and productive forests. The Hellman funding will support my dissertation project and help me contribute to the outstanding scientific enterprise on campus.”
Clarke, a 2014 Rhodes Scholar, recently graduated from the University of Oxford with an MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management and an MSc in Biodiversity Conservation and Management. Fieldwork for her first thesis took place along Oxfordshire rivers and streams where she tracked invasive aquatic invertebrates. Then for her second thesis with collaborators in Denmark, she modeled climate change effects on historical North American forests using fossil records from the last glacial maximum 21,000 years ago.

As an undergrad, she majored in Chemistry and minored in Environmental Science at Smith College as a STRIDE Scholar. For her senior honors thesis, she monitored the consequences of climate change on the hydrology and soil chemistry of Avery Brook Watershed, Massachusetts.

Berkeley’s rigorous, interdisciplinary graduate programs will allow her to collaborate with rising and established environmental leaders. “ESPM faculty engage in world-class science, but they are unique because they also communicate their findings to policy-makers, stakeholders, and the public at large in their efforts to solve the most pressing ecological and social issues.”