Student Leaders in the Environment

A page dedicated to the outstanding achievements in environmental study, research, and stewardship by Georgetown University students. Profiles highlighting the unique and diverse experiences of students will be updated regularly.


Environmental Biology student studies ecology in Costa Rica

Greetings to the readers of the Environmental Initiative website!

My name is Laura Rosenwald, and I am a junior Environmental Biology major here at Georgetown. In the spring of 2014, I will be studying abroad in Costa Rica. I originally hail from Frederick, Maryland and was a graduate of Urbana High School in the class of 2011. Since I was a child, I loved being around animals of all kinds. In particular, I’ve had an immense interest in ecology and the function of ecosystems. At Georgetown, I additionally work in the Weiss lab, where I have been researching butterfly learning as well as the behavior of a species of oribatid mite.

In Costa Rica, I will be attending the Tropical Biology Semester Abroad hosted by Duke University and the Organization for Tropical Studies. Essentially, the program will take us on a tour throughout different biosites in Costa Rica to complete field research. In addition, the program will teach about environmental policy, tropical biology as well as the language and culture of Costa Rica. I was encouraged to apply to this unique program by a number of faculty members who had completed the program themselves, including Martha Weiss, Edward Barrows, and Jennifer Fox after I expressed interest in gaining more field research experience within the field of tropical biology.

Read Laura’s blog from Costa Rica here!


Kate Hale (Environmental Biology & Spanish Language major)
“Abroad in Ecuador”

Kate Hale spent her junior spring studying abroad in Ecuador.  The semester was a phenomenal experience that complimented her environmental biology and Spanish language studies, as well as her desire to explore a new location and experience a new way of life.  She enrolled at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, located in the town of Cumbaya, which gave her the opportunity to live with a Spanish-speaking host family and work with the Ecuadorians in the classes she attended.  Because of this cultural exposure, her Spanish language skills greatly improved.  Additionally, the university and the country itself provided an ideal setting for a hands-on, learning experience.  During the semester, Kate learned information, processes, and research methods specific to Ecuador and the surrounding biological research sites.  She also had the opportunity to visit the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands to study, observe, and conduct research in some of the most biodiverse areas in the world, only available in Ecuador!  Outside of academics, Kate took advantage of the adventurous landscape found in this region of Ecuador.  She kayaked down the white-water rivers of Tena, Ecuador and climbed the five tallest peaks in the country, reaching 20,500 feet at the top of Chimborazo, a mountain she had learned about in her environmental biology classes here at Georgetown. Kate describes her experience in Ecuador as “the perfect location for applied studies in both environmental biology and Spanish language. Ecuador is a beautiful country with picturesque landscapes and diverse flora and fauna, culture, and passionate people.”


Christian Holkeboer (International Political Economy, School of Foreign Service)
“Jump-starting GU’s Solar Energy Usage”

Christian Holkeboer is a senior in the School of Foreign Service majoring in International Political Economy. He has been involved in the energy sector since sophomore year, exploring both national utilities and rural electrification in the context of developing countries.  Christian had the opportunity to travel to Haiti to work on solar-powered charging stations for cellular telephones and to present a carbon financing framework to the Haitian government.  He later returned to Haiti on a Raines Fellowship to study the political economy of grid extension.  This past spring, Christian took a leave of absence from school to work for a solar energy company (EGG-energy) in Tanzania.  At EGG-energy he created and managed a consumer financing program to allow customers in Dar es Salaam to purchase solar home systems on credit. Christian has interned at the Millennium Challenge Corporation where he focused on the monitoring and evaluation of investments in African energy infrastructure; the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Energy Resources’ Office of Electricity and Energy Efficiency; and is currently working on the President’s Power Africa Initiative through the U.S. State Department. Christian is a leader within the student organization, Georgetown Energy (visit their website for more information). Their defining, and most recent, activity is the Solar Street.  This 18 kW on a block of University-owned townhouses represented a great achievement for the organization and an excellent example of students and administrators working together.  The solar will lower emissions for these townhouses and will result in a large financial return to the initial capital put forward by students to fund the project.

Georgetown Energy has also been active internationally.  Their Microsolar project lead to the installation of a solar-powered charging station in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  The second system will be installed this summer in Fonds Parisien, Haiti.  Georgetown Energy also prepared a carbon financing framework for the Haitian government under the Clean Development Mechanism.  On campus, GE explored the introduction of wind and solar thermal generation on rooftops and is currently working to harness human energy at Yates Field house.


Elena Noyes (Environmental Biology major)
“Development and the Environment in Australia”

Elena Noyes, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is an environmental biology major at Georgetown University. She is interested in the impacts of new development on surrounding environmental and local populations. Elena aspires to a career as an environmental and ecological consultant  who helps new industry understand how development can coexist with a healthy, protected, and productive ecosystem.  Currently, Elena is spending her fall semester in Yungaburra, Australia, where she will study various ecosystem dynamics. She will also participate in a hands-on rainforest restoration and management project. Elena is the first student from Georgetown University to participate in this study abroad program, and hopes that her experience will pave the way for others. At Georgetown, Elena is an intern for Center for the Environment and an Outdoor Education guide. Follow Elena’s travels and research through her blog!