Fellow Spotlight: Kripa Akila Jagannathan

Fellowship Type: Carbon Neutrality Fellow for Research and Global Food Initiative Fellow for Research

Campus: UC Berkeley for CNI and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab for GFI

Degree Objective: Energy and Resources Ph.D. at UC Berkeley

Project Description: Kripa is an overachiever: Kripa is a dual GFI AND CNI fellow. As part of her GFI fellowship with LBNL, she is investigating whether climate models with good skills in predicting global metrics (such as global average temperature) are also good predictors of specific metrics of local climate that are relevant to fruit and nut farmers in California, such as chill hours. Kripa hopes that this project is a step forward in efforts to provide California farmers with the best available climate information for their specific local needs.
Her CNI fellowship is with UCOP, where she will be working with UC Cooperative extension specialists and advisors. Kripa’s CNI project involves engaging with almond farmers in the Central Valley to understand how they have used/might use climate information in their decision-making. During this spring semester, Kripa will be conducting interviews and focus group discussions with almond farmers, fruit and nut farm advisors, and Almond industry association – ‘Almond Board of California’ members.

What impact does your fellowship work have on your campus, your community, the state, or the world?  Kripa hopes that her fellowship work is a step towards understanding how California’s farmers can use climate information to make decisions that are better adapted to future climate. Her LBNL work is an attempt to synthesize large and complicated climate model outputs into information on climate change that can potentially be useful at a local-scale for decision-makers. On the other hand, Kripa’s CNI research has a more social-sciences angle, and aims to understand how and what kind of information on climate change can be most useful from a farmer’s perspective.

What is a recent success in your project? Kripa wanted her work to be collaborative and include different types of stakeholders within the process of research. Kripa’s biggest success is putting together and mobilizing a research team that includes a climate modeler from LBNL, a climate specialist from UC Cooperative extension, a fruit and nut farm advisor and a representative of the USDA’s climate sub-hub at Davis. This diverse research team has expertise from the technical, policy as well as practitioner’s perspectives. Having a diverse research team engaging in this question allows for a more grounded and meaningful result to Kripa’s project. To her knowledge, this is the first such collaborative effort for addressing this topic in California.

Why are you interested in the Carbon Neutrality Initiative and the Global Food Initiative? Climate Change is one of the biggest threats of our generation. Kripa believes that climate resilient agriculture will play a big part in sustaining agriculture for the future. Her research addresses the key objectives of the CNI and the GFI. She is thrilled and honored to be a part of UC’s effort to sustainably feed the growing population of the world while striving to be carbon neutral.

What do you hope to do in the future using the tools you developed during the fellowship? Kripa hopes her career will focus on climate resilient development. She wants to design climate decision-support tools that are scientifically sound and yet are tailored to the end-user’s needs.

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