My name is Poojan Thakrar and I am from Illinois. I go to the University of California, Berkeley where I am a BS Environmental Economics and Policy candidate.
What sustainability, energy, and community issues are important to you?
The most important sustainability issue for me is preserving our natural lands, flora and fauna. I consider myself incredibly lucky to live in the United States with all of its diverse landscapes and breathtaking wildlife. I always yearn to explore the natural lands around me, whether its the local short hike or Yosemite Valley. I strive to ensure that the policies and actions we take now can preserve these natural wonders for generations to come. I think my mentality can be summarized in the quote "A true environmentalist knows that the world is not inherited from our ancestors but rather borrowed from our children".
What exciting projects/research are you working on now?
I recently finished an internship with CalCAN, or the California Climate and Agriculture Network. The organization works as advocates for environmental and agricultural policy in California. My main task was to review the effectiveness of of past CalCAN recommendations to California's governor by interviewing policy experts and compiling their insights into a report. I also tracked bills relevant to CalCAN and wrote blog posts about major policy changes or academic studies around California agriculture.
What are your plans for the next five years?
Next year, I will graduate with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Economics and Policy with a minor in Statistics. With this, I hope to work in the intersection of environmentalism, policy, and data. Whether I end up in the private or public sector, I want to use today's proliferation of environmental data to better understand insights. For example, thanks to modern data analysis, we can analyze behavioral patterns in energy usage to better allocate renewable energy infrastructure or uncover unintended consequences of carbon taxes.
What made you want to apply to SISE?
What really drew me to SISE was the diversity of the program. Not only do the program coordinators come from a wide variety of backgrounds, the actual participants of SISE tend to come from a wide spectrum of environmentalism. The program accepts those with backgrounds in engineering, economics, sociology, and everything in between. Plus, participants come from so many different countries all around the world and have many of different experiences. I knew that if I came to SISE, I would not only learn from the program, but also my peers as well.
What are you most looking forward to doing in Chicago?
Luckily I am from the area! I would love to take time to explore some of the parts of Chicago I haven't explored yet. I am also excited to be able to point out my favorite activities, restaurants, and museums to those that are new to Chicago.
Do you like Cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?
I mean, they're not dogs. But sure, learning about cats seems like it can be fun.