Amber Pairis, Ph.D.
Dr. Amber Pairis is the Executive Director and Founder of the Climate Science Alliance with affiliations with the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, Western Regional Climate Center at Desert Research Institute University of Nevada, Reno, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Pairis is an experienced Science Director with a demonstrated history of working with partners to elevate and support community led and implemented projects. Her current work focuses on building a science focused network of leaders, scientists, and managers focused on sharing ecosystem-based resiliency approaches to safeguard our communities and natural resources from climate change. In 2019 Pairis was recognized as San Diego’s Community Hero for Climate Change by KPBS and the National Conflict Resolution Center. In 2017 Pairis was honored with the National Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources for her outstanding work in raising awareness and helping the nation’s natural resources become more resilient to the impacts of a rapidly changing world. In 2013 Pairis was appointed by Governor Brown as the Assistant Secretary for Climate Change-California Natural Resources Agency and worked collaboratively to coordinate the State's activities related to climate change adaptation. Preceding the appointment, Pairis served as the Climate Change Advisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and created the Department's Climate Science Program and CDFW Climate College. In 2006 Pairis worked for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Washington D.C. where she served as the Science Liaison coordinating between state and federal natural resource agencies on energy and climate change research. Pairis completed her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England with an emphasis in Conservation Biology. She is a fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.
Alex is committed to a path inspiring others to view science through a more dynamic and empowering lens. Alex obtained her M.Sc. in Chemical Ecology from San Diego State University and has worked with prominent organizations such as the National Park Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Georgia Institute of Technology, and San Diego Zoo Global. As an ecologist, storyteller, and community engager, she has spanned critical boundaries between stakeholders in education, academia, non-profit, and government to translate the most current scientific bodies of work in ways that are accessible and inclusive. She is a strong proponent of unconventional science communication and extending the broader impacts of science to the public using the outlets of art, digital media, education, and citizen science. As Deputy Director for the Climate Science Alliance, Alex helps coordinate and optimize the organization’s strategic programs, partnerships, and vision, with a critical focus on meaningful community engagement. Her hope is that through her work and experience she can get the world to think differently about how we connect and impact the thriving ecosystem around us and commit to fostering a more resilient future.
Creative Program Manager
As the Creative Program Manager for the Climate Science Alliance, Diane works with the Alliance team and partners to create captivating and engaging materials in order to deliver the important messages of our climate resilient projects to all levels of our community. She explores the evolving world of science communication, utilizing graphic and web design as well as social media. This passion stemmed from her time at Gaia, a student magazine that covered sustainability-based issues through art and creative journalism, in which she was the editor-in-chief of while completing her B.A. in Environmental Studies/Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Research and Data Applications Manager
Connor grew up in the rich ecosystems of his Southern California Tribal community and has made it a mission to advocate for the important relationships and responsibilities associated with Southern Californian natural and working lands. Connor works closely with scientists, managers, agricultural partners, Tribal representatives, and other partners to support climate smart food systems and climate mitigation strategies within ecosystem stewardship. His professional background encompasses work with various stakeholders to establish and expand innovative alliances to accelerate effective problem-solving among resource managers, scientists, and decision-makers. Connor is a Pala Tribal citizen (Payomkawichum/Cahuilla) and he works to integrate his peoples’ Traditional Ecological Knowledge with emerging and innovative technologies. Connor is in his final stages of completing his thesis and B.S. in Sustainability Studies with a minor in Geology at the University of California of Riverside. His work in Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge and sustainable food systems has awarded him fellowships from the University of California Office of the President’s Global Food Initiative and the University of California Office of the President’s Global Health Institute’s Planetary Health Center of Expertise.
Climate Resilience Fellow
Paula is the Climate Science Alliance’s Climate Resilience Fellow. Born in Mexico City, and raised in San Diego, Paula is now responsible for overseeing and coordinating the Climate Science Alliance’s bi-national efforts in the Baja California region. Paula has studied climate change, and its impacts, from a variety of angles. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Barbara—where she received a BS in Aquatic Biology—she began studying the carbon sequestration potential of Mexico’s mangrove ecosystems. Then, as a masters student in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Climate Science & Policy program, Paula completed a capstone project on the threat that climate change impacts, particularly rising seas, pose to coastal cultural heritage sites in Puerto Rico. Also at Scripps, Paula has previously worked as a researcher and communications associate for the Aburto Lab, where her work has included distilling research on mangroves and conservation into policy and outreach materials intended for a non-scientific audience. Before joining the Climate Science Alliance, she also served as a project coordinator to the California Collaborative for Climate Change Solutions and for Dr. Ram Ramanathan—where her work involved supporting the Climate Education for All educational initiative, which aims to bring climate education to adults across America in locally relevant terms through engagement with community leaders. Paula has also been a research diver, and volunteer interpreter at an immigration nonprofit, and is currently a college-access mentor for underserved high-school students in San Diego.
Will Madrigal, Jr.
Tribal Capacities and Partnerships, Program Manager
As the Tribal Capacities and Partnerships Program Manager, Will works closely with Southern California Tribal Nations to build relationships between Tribal representatives, scientists, managers, and community partners to support advancement of Tribally-visioned, led, and implemented climate resilience projects within the Climate Science Alliance’s portfolio. Will is a California Indian Professor of American Indian Studies/History/Language, and an enrolled member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians located here in Riverside County. He grew up on the reservation learning and practicing his traditional ways. He is a Native Educator, Language Teacher, and Cultural Resource Manager, having worked for numerous tribal governments in Riverside/ SanBernardino counties as a professional for many years. As an undergrad at UCR, he was fortunate to collaborate with his professors on a joint project, Keeping the Songs Alive: California Indian Historical Perspectives (2010). This project actively sought to provide the forgotten voices and perspectives of the California native peoples regarding California indigenous: epistemologies, conversations on race, notions about the colonization of traditional native gender roles, ethno-musicology, local historiography and origin narratives, and the root of indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Will’s doctorate work includes de-constructing native studies through an interdisciplinary, indigenous lens. Archival study of his Cahuilla ancestry and interactions with early colonizers in Riverside County, with regards to impacts on the economic and socio-political identity of the region. Emphasis is also given to epistemic and ontological knowledge transfer. Since 2008, Will has conducted the Learning Landscapes intertribal programs for the non-profit Native American Land Conservancy LLC. The program sought to educate native youth and families by hosting a camping module located in the remote Old Woman Mtn. Preserve near Desert Center, CA. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) learning was the key curriculum for the program, where local elders taught the group traditional: plant use, stories and animals, songs and dances.
Collaboration and Engagement Coordinator
Ana is a lifelong San Diegan whose mission is to contribute to a legacy that protects and empowers both people and the planet. With four years in the non-profit sector, Ana has been a key leader in the environmental education sector. She has created innovative and interdisciplinary curricula and programs that promotes civic engagement, climate science, and a deep understanding of the natural and cultural resources found within the San Diego region. Ana graduated from California State University, San Marcos, with her B.A. in Environmental Studies and minor in Anthropology. Because of her work on campus, Ana received the 2017 Tukwut Leadership Award as the Outstanding Social Advocate for inspiring change, promoting solidarity, and empowering others to make a difference. As the Collaboration and Engagement Coordinator for the Climate Science Alliance, Ana works collaboratively with diverse stakeholders to advance projects focused on climate change science and solutions. By emphasizing inclusivity and equity within her work, Ana aims to amplify community members’ voices and perspectives to develop innovative solutions in the face of a changing climate.
Profesora Martha Aidé Escalante Garcia
Climate Kids Mexico Program Manager
Profesora Aide Escalante is the Program Manager for Climate Kids-Mexico. Aide has been working with the Climate Science Alliance since 2015 and has developed a unique approach to training high school students to deliver the Climate Kids program in elementary and middle school classes in Tijuana.
Martha Aidé Escalante García, es una educadora ambiental desde 2010, profesora de Ecología y Ciencia y Tecnología Sociedad y Valores en CBTIS, coordinadora de programa de Escuela Verde del CBTis 155, certificada como escuela líder ambiental desde 2014 por la Semarnat. Colabora con la Dirección de Protección al Ambiente de Tijuana en el diseño y puesta en acción de talleres multiplicadores de educación ambiental en escuelas primarias, secundarias desde 2012. Ha participado como coordinadora en talleres de educación ambiental en Ferias del Medio Ambiente. Participo en Congreso Nacional de Calidad Académica en el 2015 por llevar a cabo práctica de aprendizaje exitosa en educación ambiental. Obtuvo premio estatal por el Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación SNTE por promover una Educación para la Sustentabilidad. También coordina jóvenes estudiantes en proyectos de PFEA de limpieza de playa y participado en campañas nacionales de limpieza. Colaboro en evento binacional de limpieza de playa y Arte Aéreo de Ocean Kids Day organizado por I Love a Clean San Diego en 2015. También puso en marcha un proyecto piloto multiplicador de educación con enfoque de cambio climático, Climate Kids México, diseñando talleres de arte, ciencia y cuenta cuentos para niños de primaria, desarrollando las capacidades de educación para el cambio climático en jóvenes de bachillerato. Actualmente trabaja en CBTis 146 de Playas de Tijuana, colabora con la DPA, PFEA y lleva a cabo el proyecto Climate Kids México en Baja California.
Science, Media, and Art Intern
Audrey Carver is a painter and multimedia artist from the small town of Idyllwild, California. She works in illustration, painting, muralism, and design to examine how people interact with their environment. She is currently studying art and environmental anthropology at Tufts University and has worked with multiple environmental and community-based organizations to help communicate their research and use art as a tool for communication. She has exhibited in California, Boston, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. She is also an avid surfer, and has a deep affinity for fish tacos. As the Science Art and Media Development Intern, Audrey works with Climate Kids to develop fun and engaging art content that inspires youth to care for our natural world.
Laura Engeman is developing the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation’s coastal-focused climate adaptation initiatives and building partnerships with public agencies in San Diego, California and beyond. Prior to joining the Center, Laura launched and directed the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, building strategies for advancing climate change planning and implementation in cities across San Diego. In 2015, Laura created and led the Resilient Coastlines Project of Greater San Diego connecting Scripps scientists with public agencies to increase understanding of sea level rise, coastal storm vulnerabilities and coastal hazard mitigation approaches. Laura also serves as an advisory team member for the Climate Science Alliance. She brings 15 years of experience in environmental management and policy at the local, state, national and international level to the Center and has an MA in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
Shasta Gaughen, Ph.D.
Shasta Gaughen is the Environmental Director and the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Pala Band of Mission Indians in Pala, California. She has worked for the Pala Band since January 2005, and established Pala’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office in 2008. She is also an adjunct professor in the Anthropology Department at California State University San Marcos. Dr. Gaughen received her B.A. in Anthropology and B.S. in Natural Resources at Humboldt State University in 1996, her M.A. in Anthropology from San Diego State University in 2001, and her PhD in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 2011. She is the Tribal Workgroup lead for the Climate Science Alliance, Chair of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, Secretary of the Board for the Native American Environmental Protection Coalition, a member of the Institute of Tribal Environmental Professionals’ Climate Advisory Group, and a director for the Upper San Luis Rey Resource Conservation District.
Megan Jennings, Ph.D.
Megan Jennings is a Conservation Ecologist and Co-Director of San Diego State University's Institute for Ecological Monitoring and Management. The research she works on is primarily focused on informing conservation and management planning in terrestrial systems with particular interest in incorporating landscape dynamics into connectivity planning. She worked for over a decade as a wildlife biologist for the US Forest Service in San Diego where her years of experience in land management for a federal agency informed her perspective as a researcher. Dr. Jennings strives to work at the interface of science and management, developing applied research to address management and conservation issues and communicating results and recommendations to decision-makers and managers. Dr. Jennings is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at San Diego State University, an affiliated researcher with the Scripps Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, and serves as an advisor to the Climate Science Alliance.
Julie Kalansky, Ph.D.
Julie is a climate scientist and program manager of CNAP (California Nevada - Climate-Application Program) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. CNAP is a NOAA funded RISA team whose objective is to work with decision makers to facilitate the integration of climate science into decisions. She is also an advisory team member for the Climate Science Alliance. Julie’s research interests stem from trying to understand weather and climate in order to better prepare for extreme events and future conditions. These efforts include using historical observations to understand historical weather variability in the Western US and the impacts associated with this variability as well as future projections of climate variability. She is actively involved with the California 4th Climate Assessment with a focus in sea level projections and the regional application of the information that is coming out of the effort. Julie engages with regional stakeholders to better understand how this climate and weather information can be applied in decision making.
Althea Walker is currently the Tribal Climate Science Liaison for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium at the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. She is a descendant of the Nez Perce, Hopi, and Gila River people and is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community. Althea is a Certified Public Manager and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental & Resource Management & Master of Science in Environmental Technology Management from Arizona State University.
Her career has focused on environmental protection, green building, zero waste planning, community engagement, and climate change adaptation planning. Her work in these areas have ranged from analyzing the impacts of dam operation and climate change on Columbia River salmon and lamprey migration to incorporating Indigenous knowledge into geoscience curriculum and climate change adaptation planning.
She is a Sequoyah Fellow (lifetime member) of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) and an editorial board member of the AISES magazine, Winds of Change. She is a steering committee member for the Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network and recently became a board member for the hipéexnu’ kíi’u núun wisíix Inc., which promotes, protects, and revitalizes the Nez Perce language and culture. Althea previously worked for the Gila River Indian Community where she was the Environmental Education & Outreach Specialist.