Out West student blog

A Greener San Francisco

Clara Kieschnick in Golden Gate Park, one of the best examples of local urban ecology.

By Clara Kieschnick '22
Hometown: Palo Alto, California
Major: Biology & Comparative Literature
Resilient Programs Landscape, San Francisco Estuary Institute

What drew you to this internship?

So far in my undergraduate career, my work has focused mainly on lab research and academia. Although I love doing academic research, I also wanted to explore a career path that focused on more hands-on management practices, where you can directly see the impact of your research. The San Francisco Estuary Institute does exactly that—conducts and collects research that can help inform environmental actions for companies and government agencies in the Bay Area.

How does your role support the host organization’s mission?

My role at SFEI primarily involves conducting background research for various urban ecology projects. SFEI is able to design management practices through the extensive research and literature reviews that I am helping with. Mostly, my role involves supporting the science-based aspect of SFEI, where they use science to solve environmental problems.

Describe one project you will be working on this summer:

One of my projects this summer is a part of SFEI’s Next Generation Urban Greening project, bringing more green infrastructure to San Francisco. I’m working on the historical ecology aspect of this project, where we look at old maps and newspaper articles to map what certain areas of San Francisco looked like before industrialization. Ultimately, the historical ecology mapping will help inform what the modern ecology of San Francisco could (or should) look like.

How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?

Although I am not entirely sure what I want my future career to entail, this project includes the exact features I want my job to have—research and application. Additionally, this project has expanded my interest in urban ecology, a field I’ve been wanting to study and possibly pursue a career in. Having grown up in mostly urban places, including several big cities, my main exposure to nature has been through urban forests. It is not until recently that I realized the importance of urban nature—since most people do not have access to national or state parks— and, in the future, I hope to somehow expand the accessibility of urban nature to future generations.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time this summer, I have spent a lot of time reading—as a Comparative Literature major, I spend the school year reading books required for class, so it’s been nice being able to read books for fun. I have also taken up swimming this summer, a sport I have not done in several years! Mostly, I have been prioritizing spending time with friends and family, now that the Bay Area is starting to fully reopen.


Read more at the Out West Student Blog »

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