2018 Bullitt Environmental Prize Winner Announced. Congratulations to Nicola Smith. 2018 Bullitt Environmental Prize Recognizes Bahamian Marine Biologist 12th Annual Award to PhD Candidate from Simon Fraser University SEATTLE – The Bullitt Foundation announced today the winner of the 12th Annual Bullitt Environmental Prize, which recognizes people from varied backgrounds who have demonstrated the ability to become powerful environmental leaders. The goal of the program...


2015 Bullitt Fellow Heather Fowler Receives Presitigious Omenn Award Veterinarian Heather Fowler just received the highest award offered to University of Washington Phd students in the School of Public Health.

Environmental Fellowship

A program to identify environmentally focused leaders in the Pacific Northwest

Environmental Fellowship Selection Panel

The Bullitt Foundation has a strong interest in helping to create a more diverse set of leaders in the environmental field. This prize is intended for exceptional individuals from underrepresented communities who possess a capacity for leadership and who show exceptional scholarship. Establishment of this fellowship is based on the understanding that if America is ever again to hope for a leadership role on global and environmental issues, it must produce environmental leaders who resemble a majority of the world’s inhabitants. In establishing the Environmental Leadership Fellowship, we are providing more opportunity and support for such leadership to emerge.

Selection Panel Members:

Peter Bloch Garcia – Vice President, Latino Community Fund
Edmund Seto – Associate Professor, UW Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
Erim Gomez (Committee Chair) – Scholar, Washington State University
Rod Brown – Managing Partner, Cascadia Law Group
Amber Knox – Grants and Communications Manager, Campion Advocacy Fund
Keith Matthews – Deputy General Counsel, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Megan Owen – Director of Government Affairs, McKinstry Co.
Sudha Nandagopal – City of Seattle
Jessie Woolley-Wilson – CEO and President, DreamBox Learning
Denis Hayes (ex officio) – President, Bullitt Foundation

Fellowship Award Winners
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2018 - Nicola Smith

Nicola Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in Marine Biology with the Earth to Oceans Research Group at Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada. She earned an Honors B.Sc. with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, where she double majored in Zoology and English. She obtained a M.Sc. in Zoology from the University of British Columbia, where her thesis focused on invasive and native reef fish colonization of human-made structures in coastal waters. Her current research interests include invasive species, coral reef fish ecology, and data-poor tropical fisheries.

Most of Nicola’s work to date centers on evaluating the ecological effectiveness of strategies to control invasive, Indo-Pacific lionfish populations on coral reefs in the Caribbean. Her scientific contributions in this area include several peer-reviewed publications in the journals, PLoS ONE, Biological Invasions, Frontiers in Marine Science, and the Journal of Fish Biology. From 2010 to 2013, Nicola was the experiment coordinator for The Bahamas Lionfish Control Pilot Project. The project was part of a regional initiative funded by the Global Environment Facility/United Nations Environment Program (GEF/UNEP), and aimed to build capacity in the Caribbean to address the threats posed by invasive species through information sharing and the development of country-specific pilot projects.

Nicola is also known for her work on reconstructing unreported fisheries catches in The Bahamas, her home country. Her research on the issue was published in the journal, Fishery Bulletin, and was featured in the TV documentary, “An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch,” which premiered on the Smithsonian Channel in 2017. In 2016, Nicola was a part of the official delegation from The Bahamas at the 32nd Committee on Fisheries (COFI32) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. Nicola was a speaker and panelist at a COFI32 side event on “Reliable Fishery Statistics and Importance for Food Security Assessments,” where she presented her research findings on unreported recreational fishery catches in The Bahamas over the last half century.

Recently, Nicola was selected by the Royal Society, London, as an “Outstanding PhD Student in Biology from the Caribbean” to attend the 2017 Commonwealth Science Conference in Singapore. She is also the recipient of numerous awards, including: a Professional Development Grant from the Society for Conservation Biology, Latin America and Caribbean Section (2017), an Organization of American States Graduate Scholarship (2015-2017), The Bahamas Ministry of Education Graduate Academic Scholarship (2013-2016), the Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation Graduate Scholarship (2013-2015), Simon Fraser University Provost International Fellowship (2013-2015), the University of British Columbia Graduate Fellowship (2008), the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (2007-2008), Trinity College Scholar for Outstanding Academic Achievement (2006), and the George Gray Falle Scholarship for High Achievement in English (2006). In 2013, she was featured in The Tribune Newspaper as one of The Bahamas’ brightest “40 Under 40, Bridge to the Future,” as part of their 40th Independence Celebrations. Nicola hopes to work in academia as a Principal Investigator or to work as a regional head of an Inter-governmental Environmental Organization. She enjoys reading, swimming and snorkeling in her free time.

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2017 - Cornelius Adewale

Cornelius Adewale is a PhD candidate at Washington State University (WSU)’s School of the Environment. A native of Ilesa, an agricultural-based community in Nigeria, he began weeding and harvesting cocoa with his grandfather at the age of six and his interest in agriculture has grown ever since.

In Nigeria, Cornelius earned a Bachelor degree in Agricultural Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). During this time, he became the national leader of all agricultural students in Nigeria. The position exposed him to the enormous environmental and economic challenges farmers face in Nigeria, and the potential to engage more people in agriculture. He saw how farmers lacked access to information, tools, and resources for sustainable farming and decided to spend his life and career helping to foster sustainable food production in Nigeria. After graduation, he began a successful organic vegetable farm and began to wonder if he could quantify the positive environmental impacts of sustainable farming. After three years, he pursued a graduate degree focused on building models and creating practical tools to promote the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.

For his Master thesis in Soil Science at WSU, he worked with farmers in Washington State to examine different soil testing methods that best suit organically farmed soil. Today, he is a fourth year PhD candidate and together with researchers and farmers, he has developed a practical model for estimating agricultural ecosystem services and impacts called OFoot, which is a publicly available website application which can be used to calculate farm greenhouse gases, carbon sequestration, nitrogen leaching, and carbon footprint.

Cornelius plans to further expand his research and develop a technology and research-driven tool farmers can use to manage soil quality in Nigeria. His research will foster the adoption of environmentally conscious farming practices and reverse soil degradation. The research also will explore and document the effects of soil testing and soil management on productivity and farm profitability in the area. Following his PhD, he plans to focus on leveraging technology as a tool for sustainable food production. When he is not working, Cornelius enjoys reading, hosting cook-outs and taking road trips with his wife and son.

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2016 - Carol Bogezi

Carol Bogezi – the 10th winner of the Bullitt Environmental Fellowship – is a doctoral student at the School of Environment and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Raised on a farm in Uganda, Bogezi has long looked for ways to reduce conflict between people and wildlife.

As the oldest child in a large polygamous family, Bogezi honed her diplomacy skills early. And as a Ugandan woman, she has had to overcome social pressures against education for girls. At age 22, Bogezi lost both parents in a six-month period, leaving her responsible for four younger siblings. Once again, she had to overcome social barriers against women to take control of and manage her family’s farm. Through these challenges, Bogezi never lost her passion for science and conservation.

After college, Bogezi worked as a field research assistance and later senior field officer with the Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS). In 2012 she received the WCS Beinecke Africa Wildlife Conservation Scholarship to pursue a PhD. She chose to come to the Pacific Northwest because there are large mammals in close proximity to fast-growing cities. Her current research focuses on interactions between people and carnivores in Washington State.

In the future, Bogezi plans to apply her experience to wildlife conservation in Uganda. Ultimately, she wants to establish a scientific research center in Kidepo Valley National Park. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and a Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources, both from Makerere University in Kampala. When she is not working, Bogezi enjoys reading, hiking, wine-tasting and road trips with her husband.

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2015 - Dr. Heather Fowler

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Dr. Heather Fowler always knew she wanted to grow up to become a veterinarian. Dr. Fowler, like many aspiring veterinarians, planned to work in small animal practice and own her own clinic. As she got older however, her interest in veterinary medicine slowly evolved as she realized her true passion was to work in public health keeping both people and animals healthy. Now as a PhD student at the University of Washington she plans to work in the emerging and transdisciplinary field that brings experts from human, animal, and environmental health together, i.e. One Health, to help solve the world’s most difficult and complex problems.

Dr. Fowler possesses a veterinary medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s of Public Health from Yale School of Public Health. She has experience in public health practice having worked as a CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellow at the Minnesota Department of Health from 2011-2013. Dr. Fowler is currently a full-time student and BEBTEH (Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Bioinformatics Training in Environmental Health) Fellow in the School Of Public Health in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences working toward a PhD in Environmental and Occupational Hygiene. Her dissertation will focus on identifying and addressing major occupational hazards experienced by individuals that work with animals in a variety of workplace environments. In addition, she will work with stakeholders to create a model for a One Health dairy here in Washington State and the Cascadia region. Following her PhD, Dr. Fowler plans to remain in academia as an educator and a mentor.

Dr. Fowler is the Associate Director of Animal Health for the Center for One Health Research and a student member of the diversity committee in her department. In her free-time she enjoys teaching and interacting with minority youth with the goal of encouraging them to pursue the sciences as well as volunteering at the Doney Memorial Clinic, a free veterinary clinic for Seattle residents that are homeless or low-income.

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2014 - Lilia Yumagulova

Lilia Yumagulova was born and raised in the Soviet Union, in a marginalized community prone to recurring floods on the outskirts of a large urban centre. It was witnessing these regular ‘disasters’ affect her community year after year that influenced her choice of profession. Lilia holds degrees in Engineering in Emergency Management from Russia and a M.Sc. in Risk Analysis (King’s College London, UK). Currently, she is a PhD Candidate at the School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia. Her research looks at urban and regional planning for risks, disasters and climate change. Metro Vancouver, Canada is her current laboratory in her search for resilience. Lilia plans to expand her work to the Pacific Northwest by creating a network for addressing regional climate change adaptation planning.

Lilia's interdisciplinary academic path combines engineering, social science, public policy, international relations and planning. Throughout her academic career Lilia was fortunate to study and work at the University of Toronto, Canada; York University, Canada; University College London, UK; Lund University, Sweden; UFZ, Germany and the Centre for Risk and Community Safety, RMIT University, Australia among other institutions. In her academic work, she emphasizes the value of bringing together academia, practitioners, policy-makers, planners and media for reducing environmental risk in cities. Lilia is particularly interested in the resilience of marginalized communities.
Lilia has worked in the media, government agencies and NGOs in Europe and North America. These experiences gave her solid evidence for her belief in the transformational power of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional networks. She is on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Risks and Hazards Network where she chairs the Young Professionals Committee. She is a founding member of the Young Researchers Urban Resilience Network and a Research co-Director for the Crisis Resilience Alliance. She is also a Member of the International Federation of Journalists and she is an international outreach coordinator for organizations working with orphanages, indigenous communities and independent documentary filmmakers.

Lilia believes that the Bullitt Environmental Fellowship will play a pivotal role in her career at this stage to facilitate the expansion and exchange of the knowledge and capacity developed in British Columbia on climate change adaptation to the wider Pacific Northwest region. Lilia’s international experience puts her in a unique position to address cross-border regional planning synergies and interdependencies. She intends to build a collaborative knowledge exchange network that would 1) facilitate creation of a regional approach to hazard management and climate change adaptation; 2) identify core critical interdependencies between the regions, and 3) facilitate active mutual learning. She intends to accomplish these goals by building strategic alliances with diverse organizations in the Pacific Northwest region whose work contributes to building resilience capacities in the region.

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2013 - Amber Heckelman

In 2013, Amber Heckelman became Ph.D. student at the University of British Columbia and set out to cultivate a deeper understanding of the Philippine peasant experience. She was especially drawn to working with peasants because they are extremely marginalized in the Philippines, yet they are a major source of food security, as well as engage in highly sustainable agroecological practices.

Today, Amber is a Ph.D. student in Integrated Studies in Land & Food Systems. As global food insecurity intensifies due to ecological degradation, so does political instability often resulting in wars, diaspora, and the dissolution of economies. Amber’s research aims to participate in the effort to mitigate this vicious cycle and restore food security and sovereignty by exploring and documenting the affects of MASIPAG agroecological practices. Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) is a cooperative of peasant farmers that work with both scientists and NGOs to (re)implement traditional and sustainable farming methods. Amber’s research contributes to the growing efforts being made around the world to consult with peasant farmers as a means for mitigating hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation, as well as strengthening resilience to climate change.

Amber grew up in a community afflicted with gangs, drugs, and violence; and in an environment that reared generations of children who grew increasingly aggressive, defensive, and misguided. For Amber’s single immigrant mother and older brother, there were no resources, assistance, or structural support available, making life difficult and often lonely. But these vicissitudes have nurtured Amber’s humility and have given her the capacity to contextualize the experiences of other marginalized communities. Moreover, they have given her the drive to make a difference. For the last decade, Amber has served the communities she’s lived in, from mentoring at-risk youth near her hometown in San Diego, CA; to completing 3 years of service as an Americorps volunteer; to conducting a workshop for the Philippine American Student Association at WSU, covering profound challenges facing Philippine peasants; to developing a food justice workshop for “low status” and underserved youth in Vancouver, WA. Amber will continue to engage in community service projects as a means for ensuring that families, like her own, have an alternative experience. One in which isolation is replaced with relationships, segregation is replaced with community, and aggression is replaced with compassion.

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2012 - Ricardi Duvil

Ricardi Duvil is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Washington State University, a fellow of the National Science Foundation. His research involves using nitrate as a remediation technique to prevent methylmercury contamination of freshwater biota in lakes, contamination that can cause severe heath effects in wildlife and humans.

Ricardi plans to investigate the dynamics and mechanisms of nitrate control on mercury cycling in surface waters, as well as policy and management implications of using nitrate to ameliorate mercury contamination of aquatic biota. This research will combine lab studies, field studies, and microbial ecology studies to illuminate the dynamics, mechanisms and effectiveness of nitrate control on methylmercury cycling at the sediment-water interface of lakes. Results of this work could contribute to the form and content of new regulatory action towards mercury contamination, the acceptance and use of new technology, and the development of alternative ways to implement policies that effectively mitigate mercury contamination in freshwater life.

His pursuit of higher education began at Boston's Suffolk University, where he earned a B.S. degree in Environmental Engineering. He decided to study environmental engineering because of its applied nature and strong connection to public health. Following graduation from Suffolk, he went on to earn a M.S. degree in Applied Geosciences from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

His academic achievements, work experience, and passion for research have prepared him to become a leader in preventing environmental degradation linked to human health problems, especially in developing nations such as Haiti, where people suffer unimaginable heath problems from everyday exposure to environmental pollution. Throughout his career, Ricardi has served as a role model and encouraging minority high school students to pursue their dreams of being a scientist or engineer and protecting the environment, despite obstacles along the way.

Ricardi’s goal is to make a significant contribution to the scientific and engineering knowledge of mercury pollution and water resources problems in Haiti and across developing nations. With his doctoral degree, he is confident that he will become a leader in solving water-related health problems and preventing the unnecessary destruction of lives and the environment, degradation that he encountered first-hand as a young man in Haiti. After earning his PhD, he plans to continue with research, teaching, and community outreach at the university level. He is optimistic that with his vision of making a real difference and protecting human and environmental health will become a reality.

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2011 - Erim Gomez

Erim Gomez is a Ph.D. student in Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. He is deeply interested in environmental and non-profit organizations, having formerly served as Co-Director of Southern Oregon University’s Ecology Center of the Siskiyous and on the Board of Directors of Oregon Stewardship. His research interests include the conservation of endangered species and the ecology and sustainability of freshwater ecosystems.

As an undergraduate he earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies and minors in Economics and Political Science because he sees the urgent need for connecting environmental policy and science. He believes scientists should be effective communicators with the public and policy makers, while understanding complex economic and political influences on environmental issues. He believes that the more lenses through which we can see the world, the better able we are to solve the pressing global environmental problems faced by society.

Gomez has been active in wildlife conservation and research efforts across the west, including work in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California on water quality and the ecology of lizards, aquatic insects, crayfish, amphibians, salmon, and other fresh water fish. His master’s research focused on exploring ecological factors that determine diversity and abundance of amphibians in Palouse Prairie wetlands in eastern Washington. For his dissertation he plans to conduct wetland ecology research in the Moses Lake area of central Washington, and produce conservation and management plans, which he hopes may be used to save the state endangered Northern Leopard frog from extinction.

Erim is devoted to encouraging students from under-represented groups in science to pursue higher education and frequently gives presentations to high school students, mentors undergraduates, serves on advisory panels, and gives educational workshops to students. Gomez frequently is asked to share his experience as a first generation college student to encourage others to continue with their education. He plans to pursue a career as a professor because he is passionate about teaching, having volunteered as an environmental educator for youth science programs and serving as a graduate teaching assistant. In the future, he hopes to continue his teaching and research career while working with non-profit organizations and natural resource managers to help produce ecologically sound environmental management and policy.

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2010 - Tracy Fuentes

Tracy Fuentes is a student in the Interdisciplinary PhD program in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington. A third generation Mexican-American, Tracy is the first person in her family to attend college.

She has a B.S. in Botany from the University of Washington and an M.S. in Plant Biology from Arizona State University. Tracy’s master’s research focused on understanding the role that fire and a fungal disease play in the population dynamics of longsepal globemallow (Iliamna longisepala), a rare plant found only in two counties in eastern Washington State.

Her doctoral research will explore how land use and land use changes affect plants at the local, watershed, and regional scales. Many ecology and natural resource programs do not include specific considerations of people and land use in habitat restoration or species conservation. She plans to work with tribes, land managers, and plant resource professionals throughout the Puget Sound, but will have a specific focus on land use change, priority habitats, and plants in the Snohomish River Basin.

Developing more integrated conservation tools and techniques will allow botanists, weed managers, and other plant resource professionals to more effectively protect and restore habitats. This will include linking field observations to remotely sensed data, identifying land use patterns that most affect vulnerable plant species and communities, and assessing how people directly and indirectly spread invasive plants.

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2009 - Juan Mario Michan

Juan Mario Michan, a postgraduate student at the University of British Columbia, was selected to receive the third annual Priscilla Bullitt Collins Environmental Fellowship. Mr. Michan, a native of Colombia, South America, has had an interest in science, technology, and the environment from an early age. Being from a disadvantaged family limited his opportunities of obtaining postsecondary education, but obligatory military service opened the door to college and training that eventually led him into a job in the marine industry implementing systems to prevent and clean pollution caused by freighters and port equipment.

Due to personal circumstances caused by violence in Colombia, Mario was forced to flee, arriving in Canada as a convention refugee. He soon found work as a bicycle mechanic while completing night school and learning English. He has since become a Canadian citizen, completed an Engineering Physics degree, researched physics, optics and nanotechnology, and worked as an electrical engineer designing hardware and software in high-tech companies.

Mario’s master’s research focused on electron emission from carbon nanotubes, which are tiny tubes made of carbon several times smaller than a DNA strand. Due to their molecular configuration, carbon nanotubes are stronger than steel and can conduct much more electric current than copper. This research investigated a mechanism to extract electrons from their tips by applying electric fields.

Mr. Michan’s doctoral research will investigate techniques to use carbon nanotubes to remove air pollutants from the environment. He theorizes that electrons generated by nanotubes could be used in industrial applications to start chemical reactions that will remove air pollutants that cause acid rain, smog and global warming.

Mario feels very fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest, a region he believes is a hub for technological innovation and environmental leadership, and he is proud to call it home. He seems destined for an important role in solving the environmental challenges confronting us.

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2008 - Clarita Lefthand Begay

Clarita Lefthand Begay, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Washington has been selected to receive the second annual Bullitt Environmental Prize.

Ms. Lefthand, who is fluent in Navajo, is deeply committed to serving her community. Raised in a culture in which pursuit of a doctorate in a scientific discipline is highly unusual, Clarita intends to apply environmental health science to reservation problems and to serve as a role model for younger Native Americans.

For her master’s thesis, Clarita tracked microbial sources of fecal contamination for the Tulalip Tribes in the estuarine waters of Tulalip Bay, conducting the research in ways that directly addressed tribal concerns. Her work was selected for presentation at national meetings of the American Society for Microbiology and the National Environmental Health Association.

Ms. Lefthand’s doctoral research will attempt to advance techniques to distinguish viable pathogens from nonviable detritus in the environment—increasing the accuracy of predictions of risks to human health from aquatic ecosystems. Her research interests are summarized on her Web site at:

At the University of Washington, Clarita is a member of the Planning Committee for the Environmental Health Research Experience Program. She has represented the Department of Environmental Health at the last two annual meetings of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. She is a key member of the local chapter of Native American Students in Advanced Academia and she spearheaded that organization’s 2007 national meeting on the UW campus.

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2007 - Aimy Bazlak

The first Bullitt Environmental Prize was awarded to Aimy Ming Jii Bazlak Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto.

A daughter of Chinese immigrants, Aimy has already done research in plasma physics, nanotechnology, microfabrication and computational fluid dynamics. She gives frequent lectures on energy and climate change to school audiences and business organizations.

Aimy plans to devote her career to improving the performance of fuel cells, facilitating the transition to a hydrogen-based economy. Her doctoral thesis focused on microscale fuel cells. Her research is presented on her Web site at: