GCSE COP26 Science Delegation

GCSE COP 26 delegation graphic and an image of teh earth with a purple blue background


GCSE is pleased to lead a delegation of intergenerational scientists and decision-makers to COP 26.

Our delegates represent a diversity of disciplines and expertise focused on climate science and evidence-informed decision-making with specific emphasis on the impacts of local action and ways to accelerate global shifts towards a climate positive future.


Valerie Luzadis

Chair, GCSE Board of Directors
Professor, Ecological Economics and Policy
Chair, Department of Environmental Studies 
The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
New York, United States


Valerie Luzadis, Ph.D., is professor of Social-Ecological Systems and Ecological Economics at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), a public, doctoral granting institution in upstate New York. Luzadis has also served as Interim Provost and as the first Executive Vice President of ESF and held several other leadership roles in the institution. Luzadis serves on the National Board of Advisors for Planet Forward, a project of the Center for Innovative Media at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs that teaches, celebrates, and rewards environmental storytelling by college students. Luzadis is the founder of Heart Forward Science, created to develop holistic knowledge through a balance of intellect, imagination, and intuition to advance equitable, sustainable scientific outcomes. She is past President of the United States Society for Ecological Economics, having also served as leader of the Founding Organizational Committee for this society in 1999 and in varying capacities since. Her teaching and research focus on systems approaches to social-ecological foundations for conservation and sustainability. Luzadis’ scholarly work also includes the study and practice of collaborative interdisciplinary science and efforts to bring science into policy. Luzadis brings system thinking to administrative and professional leadership roles to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of institutions through matrixed systems of shared effort, power, and respect for all.  

Aisha Ali

Communications, Events and Membership Manager
Global Council for Science and the Environment
Washington DC, United States


Aisha Ali is the communications, events, and membership manager at the Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE). A New York City native, Aisha studied business at New York University. Before joining the GCSE team, Aisha was an event director in Bend, OR, where she organized many events within the Deschutes National Forest. As a director, Aisha made it a priority to produce events that left minimal impact on the environment and prioritized the use of sustainable, zero waste materials. Aisha has produced events for industry leaders such as Vespa, Nike, Amstel Light and NASA. She has produced events both nationally and internationally, planning corporate events in Costa Rica, France and Mexico. Aisha is a member of the NAACP, served on the board of the Central Oregon BIPOC Association, and enjoys lending her expertise to assist social justice organizations in planning events. 

A. Alonso Aguirre

Chair, Department of Environmental Science and Policy
George Mason University
Virginia, United States


A. Alonso Aguirre is Professor and Chair at the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. For the past 30 years he has worked in over 25 countries focusing on the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems. Dr. Aguirre co-founded the emerging discipline of Conservation Medicine, the journal EcoHealth and the International Association of Ecology and Health. His research has been instrumental in revealing the impact of emerging diseases of marine and terrestrial wildlife populations linked to biodiversity loss, climate change and globalization. Dr. Aguirre was appointed to the Board on Life Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences and to the expert panel of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on Transformative Change. He is also a member of the GCSE College and University Network Leaders’ Alliance executive committee. Dr. Aguirre has advised governments of several countries in the Americas, Southeast Asia and Western Europe and briefed the Mexican and United States Congress. His work has been the focus of extensive media coverage and has received numerous awards including the Warner College of Natural Resources Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Conservation Merit Bicentennial Award from Mexico, and the Harry Jalanka Memorial Medal from Finland.

Joe Árvai

Director, Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies
University of Southern California
California, United States


Dr. Joe Árvai is the Director of the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and the Dana and David Dornsife Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California. He began his career as an oceanographer but quickly pivoted to conduct research on how people formulate their attitudes and beliefs, and how they ultimately make decisions, about environmental issues such as climate change. His current research unfolds on two fronts: First, Joe and his team of graduate students and postdoctoral associates conduct research aimed at improving our understanding of how people intuitively, and often in a biased fashion, approach judgment and decision-making in situations where environmental, social, and economic priorities intersect. Second, Joe and his team develop and test critical reasoning and decision-support tools aimed at helping policy-makers, business leaders, and consumers to make better, science-based judgments and choices. In light of current events in the United States and elsewhere, a large fraction of the current research carried out by Joe and his team focuses on overcoming the obstacles and biases associated with political partisanship, the powerful influence of heated emotions, and misinformation in online and traditional media. In addition to his research, Joe teaches classes on judgment and decision-making about sustainability, and he appears frequently as a commentator in newspapers and on television. In addition to his work at USC, Joe serves as a member of the U.S. EPA’s Science Advisory Board, and as an advisor to a broad range of government agencies, businesses, and NGOs. On his days off, Joe makes documentary photographs, rides motorcycles, and climbs mountains. He can be found on Twitter at @DecisionLab. 

Christopher Boone

Dean, College of Global Futures
Arizona State University
GCSE Board of Directors
Arizona, United States


Christopher Boone, Ph.D., is Dean of the College of Global Futures and Professor in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU). His research contributes to ongoing debates in sustainable urbanization, environmental justice, vulnerability, and global environmental change. At ASU, he has taught classes on sustainable urbanization, urban and environmental health, principles and methods of sustainability, environmental justice, sustainable design and innovation, and interdisciplinary methods for socio-ecological research. Boone serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Council on Science and the Environment (GCSE) and the executive committee of the GCSE Leaders' Alliance. He has a doctoral degree from the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.

Paola Fajardo

Research Assistant
Concordia University
Montréal, Canada


Paola Fajardo has over 18 years of experience in the science-policy interface in the academic and government sectors at national and international levels. She has vast expertise designing and leading environmental and research programs/projects related to key biodiversity areas, forests, coral reefs, blue carbon, among others. Paola is interested in advancing science-based climate change and biodiversity conservation decision-making, considering multiple perspectives and knowledge systems to foster an equitable and just world. As Program Officer at Mexico’s National Forestry Commission, she designed and led two nationwide programs for the conservation and restoration of endangered ecosystems and species, engaging central actors in diverse perspective dialogues and participative projects, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, and scientists. Paola served as coordinator of a cross-sectoral national subcommittee on wetlands restoration as part of Mexico’s commitments under the Ramsar Convention. In this role, she proposed, negotiated, and led one of the first international cooperation projects financed under the UK-Mexico's Sustainable Development Dialogue to enhance local communities' mangrove restoration initiatives and their capacities. Paola holds a BSc in Biology from the University of Guadalajara (Mexico), a Master in Biodiversity Management from CEU-San Pablo University (Spain), an MSc in Human Geography from McGill University (Canada), and a certificate in Tropical Forests from Yale University (USA). Paola recently led a multicultural and multidisciplinary Perspective Paper that summarises Priority Actions post-2020 for a holistic human rights-based conservation approach and to strengthen the central role of IPLCs as biodiversity conservation decision-makers. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in human-in-nature systems and researching community-led nature-based solutions.

Alex Godoy-Faúndez

Director of Sustainability Research Center & Strategic Resource Management
Academic Director of Master's Program in Sustainability Management
School of Engineering, Universidad del Desarrollo
Santiago, Chile


Dr. Godoy-Faúndez serves as the Director of Sustainability Research Center & Strategic Resource Management and Academic Director of the Master's program in Sustainability Management at School of Engineering at Universidad del Desarrollo. Further, he is the Head of Waste to Energy Research & Technology - Chile at WTERT Council and Research Associate at Earth Engineering Center at Columbia University and current mentor for the HBA Sustainability Certificate for Centre for Building Sustainable Value at Ivey Business School, Canada. In 2019, Dr. Godoy-Faúndez was awarded as Doctor Honoris Causa - Doctor of Laws at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay to contribute to the creation of public policies and innovations in the private sector on sustainability issues.

Since 2019, Dr. Godoy-Faúndez has served as the Review Editor for the Working Group III to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) and lead author of Chapter "Moving from linear to a circular economy: What this means for business?” For Global Environment Outlook (GEO) for Business at UNEP. He has served as an expert reviewer of the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) prepared by the independent group of scientists appointed by the United Nations Secretary-Genebra and for the "10 New Insights in Climate Science 2019" report of Future Earth & The Earth League, Stockholm, 2019 for COP25 and lead author for the "10 New Insights in Climate Science 2020" report. Also, he served as a Panel Member of the Water Quality Task Force (TF) for the International Water Resources Association (IWRA), working on the Water Quality Project: "Developing a Global Compendium on Water Quality Guidelines.” Today, he is a member of the ISO / TC 323 committee of the standard in preparation for ISO / WD 59004 Circular Economy - Framework and Principles for Implementation. Dr. Godoy-Faúndez is the coordinator for Chile as representative of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

Lynda Hopkins

Chairwoman, Board of Supervisors, Sonoma County
GCSE Board of Directors 
California, United States


Supervisor Lynda Hopkins is the current Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County, a county of half a million residents situated in the Northern Bay Area of California. She is in her second term representing the geographically vast and economically diverse Fifth District of Sonoma County, which includes the entire Sonoma County coastline, the lower Russian River, many small rural villages, the city of Sebastopol, and the Southwestern portion of the city of Santa Rosa. Additionally, Lynda holds the role of Chair of the Climate Funding Committee for the Regional Climate Protection Authority and Chair of Sonoma Water. She also serves as a director on a variety of regional governance boards, including Sonoma Clean Power, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, Sonoma County Transportation Authority, Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, First Five Commission, Russian River Watershed Association, North Coast Resource Partnership, Community Development Commission, and Local Agency Formation Commission. Lynda’s interest in public policy and land use began while attending Stanford University, where she studied interdisciplinary environmental sciences through the Earth Systems (BS, MS) Program. Her course of study included research on mass transit, coral bleaching, and how to more effectively communicate scientific principles to the broader public. She is a passionate advocate for data-driven climate policy, wildfire resilience, coastal climate adaptation, affordable housing, social justice, and early childhood education.

Diane White Husic

Professor, Biology
Dean, School of Natural and Health Sciences
Moravian University
Pennsylvania, United States


Diane White Husic, Ph.D. is the Dean of the School of Natural and Health Sciences at Moravian University, Professor of Biology, and Program Director for the Environmental Sciences and Studies programs at the institution. Her research focuses on ecological restoration and climate change impacts on forest health and diversity, mountain landscapes, and phenology. At Moravian, she has taught courses on climate change science and negotiations, environmental health, sustainability, including Costa Rica as a model of sustainability, the impact of technology on diet and disease, and many other topics. She has attended the UNFCCC COPs since 2009 and serves as a member of the Research and Independent NGOs steering committee and the Innovation Task Force for the Technology Executive Committee. She is a member of the GCSE College and University Network Leaders’ Alliance executive committee and has a particular interest in working at the science-policy interface and in enhancing diversity and inclusion in STEM. 

Esther Obonyo

Associate Professor of Engineering Design and Architectural Engineering 
Director, Global Building Network
The Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania, United States


Dr, Obonyo is the Director of the Global Building Network, a partnership between the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and Pennsylvania State University. She is also an Associate Professor of Engineering Design and Architectural Engineering. Dr. Obonyo was a 2015/2016 Jefferson Science Fellow placed with the USAID Global Development Lab in Washington, DC. Between August 2004 and July 2015, she was a faculty member at the University of Florida's (UF) Rinker School of Construction Management. Dr. Obonyo has extensive industry experience, having worked as a Construction Engineer, Project Manager and Innovations Analyst in several engineering and construction companies in Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States. Her work has been disseminated through over 100 journal papers, conference proceedings and presentations. She is on the editorial board of three Journals – Journal of IT in Construction, Buildings and Intelligent Systems. She was also guest editor for the Journal of Sustainability.

Erica Smithwick

Distinguished Professor of Geography
Associate Director, Institutes of Energy and the Environment
Administrative Fellow, Office of the Senior Vice President for Research
The Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania, United States


Erica Smithwick, Distinguished Professor of Geography, is a landscape and ecosystem ecologist. She is an Associate Director of the Institutes of Energy and Environment (IEE), and former director (2017–2021) of the Ecology Institute, both of which foster interdisciplinary environmental research. She was also the founding director of the Center for Landscape Dynamics, which connects science to management. She is a Faculty Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State, and Graduate Faculty in the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology.  Her laboratory group (LEAPS:  Landscape Ecology at Penn State) is actively involved in understanding how a wide range of disturbances, especially fire, affect ecosystem function at landscape scales.  Current research is focused on the influence of these changes on socio-ecological resilience and sustainability, with special attention to protected area management in Africa and the U.S. Dr. Smithwick recently served as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa at Rhodes University and has received numerous research awards focused on problems that require inter- and trans-disciplinary teamwork to address complex environmental challenges.  One of these projects, called Visualizing Forest Futures (VIFF), seeks to address how indigenous and western knowledge systems can be best used to address forest sustainability under climate variability, in partnership with the Menominee tribal nation in northern Wisconsin.  Another, LandscapeU, is focused on transdisciplinary graduate training at the Food-Energy-Water nexus.

Jennie C. Stephens

Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy
Director of the School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs
Director for Strategic Research Collaborations, Global Resilience Institute
Northeastern University
Boston MA, United States


Jennie C. Stephens’ research, teaching, and advocacy focus on social and political innovation in the transformation away from fossil fuels to a more just and equitable renewable-based future.  She is an internationally recognized expert on energy democracy, energy justice, climate justice, and gender and race in energy and climate. She is particularly interested in the role of higher education in accelerating societal transformation.  She is the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy, and also serves as the Director of Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs and Director for Strategic Research Collaborations at the Global Resilience Institute.  Her most recent book, Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership (Island Press, 2020), inspires collective action by elevating the stories of innovative diverse leaders who are linking climate and energy with jobs and economic justice, health and food, transportation and housing.  She argues that the key to effectively addressing the climate crisis by mobilizing transformative change is to diversify leadership, redistribute wealth and power, and move beyond technocratic solutions so that feminist, antiracist priorities are at the core of all policy. Before Northeastern, Professor Stephens was on the faculty at the University of Vermont (2014-2016) and Clark University (2005-2014). She earned her PhD at Caltech in environmental science & engineering and her BA at Harvard in environmental science & public policy. www.jenniecstephens.com   @jenniecstephens

Alexandria Villaseñor

Founder, Earth Uprising International
California, United States


At the age of 13, Alexandria Villaseñor co-founded the U.S. Youth Climate Strike movement, part of the youth led international Fridays for Future movement. Now, at the age of 16, Alexandria has become an internationally recognized environmental activist, public speaker, author and founder of several more initiatives, including the climate education focused non-profit, Earth Uprising International. She has addressed the Democratic National Convention, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum. She is a contributing author to All We Can Save, an anthology of women climate leaders, and a child petitioner for the ground-breaking international complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Children vs. Climate Crisis. Alexandria serves on the advisory board for the national climate policy platform Evergreen Action, is a youth spokesperson and advisor for the American Lung Association, and she is the youngest Junior Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences. For her work, Alexandria has received the Earth Day Network Youth Leadership Award, The Rachel Carson Environmental Justice Award, the Common Good American Spirit Changemaker award and was included on Politico’s top 100 people influential in climate change policy list.

Michelle Wyman

Executive Director
Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE)
Washington DC, United States


Michelle Wyman serves as the executive director of the Global Council for Science and the Environment, an international nonprofit that spans the boundaries between science, decision-making, and the environment. She has worked on clean energy, climate, and environmental policy with all levels of government for over two decades, developing strategic and tactical solutions to implement energy, climate, and sustainability strategies and solutions. Before joining GCSE, she served as the director of intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy. She led the Governors’ Accord for a Clean Energy Future, Applied Solutions-Local Governments Building a Clean Economy, and ICLEI USA, nonprofits that engage directly with state and local governments. Earlier in her career, she helped design and launch a public sector law practice at an international law firm focused on proactive environmental management, worked as the natural resources director for the City of Fort Collins, Colorado, and recycling coordinator for a city in North Texas, and as a park ranger with the National Park Service. She serves in a variety of advisory roles with domestic and international organizations to increase the recognition of and reliance on science in service to the environment and society.