Stella Heflin Models What Students Can Do For The Climate Crisis

Dec. 6, 2021

Stella Heflin, a junior double majoring in Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences and Applied Physics, demonstrates how students can get involved and effect climate policy.


What is your major/year?

I am a junior, and a Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences and Applied Physics double major! 

What are you involved in on campus or in Tucson?

I am in Dr. Behrangi’s research group as a research assistant, studying the remote sensing of climate data and particularly focusing on precipitation. On campus, I’m on the Executive Board of ASUA Students for Sustainability as a Co-Chair of the Hydrocats committee, which focuses on water sustainability. I’m also the Direct Action Lead for UArizona Divest, which is an organization dedicated to getting the UArizona Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. This semester, I’ve been in a working group helping design the new Campus Sustainability Fund. 

What environmental issues are you most passionate about?

It’s almost impossible to pick just one, because pretty much all environmental issues are incredibly interconnected, but the overarching issue behind all of them is the climate crisis, and that’s definitely what I’m most passionate about, both from a research and science perspective, and also from a student organizer perspective. 

What has been your biggest success as a climate activist?

My freshman and sophomore year, I helped start the Tucson Climate Coalition and worked with the City of Tucson to get them to pass a Climate Emergency Declaration. Activism is mostly about the behind-the-scenes work, and big wins are few and far between, so this was a really exciting moment for everyone involved and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it. 

What is your favorite thing about being a student researcher?

The research I do directly relates to improving the accuracy of climate models and future climate research. So, in the face of depressing climate news, it helps keep me sane to know that not only am I doing something I enjoy (yay, data analysis!) I am building the tools to help advance science in a way that will help humanity mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. 

What advice do you have for other students hoping to get involved in the environmental space on our campus?

My advice is just to start showing up to anything that looks interesting. When you show up in places and your passion is evident, doors open for you to get more involved. Also, on our campus, the environmental space is very interconnected across issues and organizations, so once you start meeting people, you start hearing about a wide variety of opportunities. Also, feel free to reach out to me and I’d be happy to try and connect you with something you’re interested in :) 

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