Welcome to our new climate action researcher, Samantha Astudillo

Learn more about our newest team member and her research

The Luskin Center for Innovation is excited to welcome Samantha (Sam) Astudillo as a new researcher and associate project manager of climate action research.

She now works with our climate research team to evaluate Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) program investments, which support community-led infrastructure and other climate action projects and plans in California’s most underserved communities. Sam has a direct connection to the work – she is focusing on TCC efforts in her hometown of Ontario.

Prior to joining the center, Sam spent nearly a decade examining the implementation and impact of educational interventions designed to advance equity and improve academic outcomes for historically underrepresented students.

We asked Sam a few questions to get to know her better. Read on to learn more about her!

Why is environmental policy important to you?

I believe that environmental policy is foundational to our daily lives. Having had the privilege to live in a variety of places, I’ve witnessed both the wealth and dearth of sound environmental policies and the resultant effects on people’s quality of life. Access to clean water and air, for example, represent basic human rights that remain out of reach for many. I believe it is critical that we all get involved in shaping something that is fundamental to our collective well-being.

How did you first get interested in climate policy?

I became interested as an undergraduate after learning about climate issues affecting disadvantaged populations around the world and realizing that the same issues impact the communities in which I grew up. Concurrently, I also began fostering a love of gardening, which intertwines so critically with caring for our environment. I continue to pursue my passion for environmental stewardship as part of the UC Master Gardener Program.

What are you most looking forward to in this role?

While I’ve nurtured my passion for the environment through volunteering, this is my first opportunity to use my professional skills to focus on climate policy and climate investments. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn about the different TCC initiatives and the great work being done statewide and across the nation.

What types of research do you most enjoy?

I’ve always valued the opportunity to conduct qualitative research, namely interviewing individuals and conducting focus groups. When I meet with someone one-on-one, I get an intimate sense of their thoughts, feelings and challenges. I appreciate the opportunity to develop those connections with people.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to spend time caring for my backyard orchard, which includes guava, pomegranate, persimmon, apple, fig and citrus trees. I’ll also take any opportunity to get outside to hike, camp and go backpacking –and I’m now doing so as a new parent.

To get in touch with Sam, contact her at sastudillo@luskin.ucla.edu or connect on LinkedIn.