The Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) PhD program in SPIA has been my actual and virtual home for the past two years, and for those itching to tackle interdisciplinary policy problems in the natural and social sciences, it could just be yours, too! Spanning the full gamut of policy research on energy and the environment, the STEP curriculum is eclectic, interconnected, and increasingly relevant in the face of complex global problems. Unsurprisingly, it also attracts candidates from the world over and all walks of life. With backgrounds ranging from ecology to economics to engineering, STEP students have had past lives as diverse as in public office, policy analysis, civil rights law, and even climate negotiations for the Paris Agreement.
My own background, while less illustrious, has also been a combination of cultures and coursework. I was born and raised in Indonesia, in a Taiwanese household, going to an international school. In college, I vacillated between majors in math, psychology, computer science, ecology and evolutionary biology, and more. Today, this indecision over intermixing interests has segued well into an appreciation of the STEP spirit, and my current research interests at the intersection of the behavioral sciences, conservation ecology, and environmental policy in coral reef socio-ecological systems. Fear not, however, if the human dimensions of reef conservation does not tickle your fancy (though it clearly should). The flexibility of the program means that you can research practically anything you and your advisor are mutually onboard with, from resiliency in climate adaptation for smallholder farmers, to co-benefits of urban decarbonization in Asia, to land-use change and its implications for biodiversity, and anything beyond and in between.