Academic Focus: Climate Change Adaptation / Indigenous Studies / Environmental Science & Policy
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Advisor: Kyle Powys Whyte
Jessica Brunacini is a doctoral student in the Department of Community Sustainability and the Environmental Science and Policy Program. She is also a scholar with the Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project. Her research interests are focused on climate change adaptation policy and practice, with an emphasis on approaches taken in Tribal and Indigenous communities. She plans to study how governance structures can impede or improve adaptive capacity, and is particularly interested in adaptation pathways that are culturally-grounded, participatory, and just.
Jessica’s professional background includes over 10 years of experience in environmental education, climate change research, and project management. Most recently, she worked with the Earth Institute at Columbia University, where she served as Assistant Director of the Polar Learning and Responding: PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership, an interdisciplinary research project funded by the National Science Foundation to develop more effective models for engaging lifelong learners on the issue of climate change. Her experience co-facilitating the 2014 and 2016 Signs of the Land: Reaching Arctic Communities Facing Climate Change Camps, which were developed for Alaska Native communities and braided Indigenous Knowledge with western science to help inform local responses to climate change, greatly influenced her decision to pursue a Ph.D. Jessica received her M.A. in Environmental Conservation Education from New York University, and a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico.