Welcome to our new associate project manager, Lauren Dunlap

Learn more about her research at the nexus of energy justice and climate adaptation

By Mara Elana Burstein

The Luskin Center for Innovation is excited to welcome Lauren Dunlap as our new associate project manager of energy equity research.

Lauren joined the center in 2021 as a graduate student researcher and quickly excelled at translating research and supporting multiple research teams. She has since earned a Master of Public Policy with a specialization in Climate Policy and Justice from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

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

Why is environmental policy important to you?

Environmental policy, and specifically climate justice, is important to me because we have an opportunity to address climate change in a way that actually restructures society to be more just for people who have been consistently oppressed and marginalized by fossil fuel extraction and our energy system for centuries.

How did you first get interested in energy and extreme heat policy?

I first became interested in high school when I learned about climate change and how energy generation contributes to it. But in 2017, the Tubbs fire in Sonoma County (where I grew up) brought climate change closer to home for me than ever before. Being so close to that fire inspired me to get involved in climate adaptation work.

What are you most looking forward to in this role?

I’m excited to work directly with decision-makers and stakeholders to figure out real solutions to specific problems they are facing. I look forward to diving into the complexity of the topics I am working on to really understand the ins and outs of how policies and programs can address them, with the ultimate goal of improving people’s lives and addressing deep societal injustice.

What types of research do you most enjoy?

I most enjoy applied, actionable research that helps decision-makers make informed decisions. When I’m working on this research, I know why I’m doing it — It’s not just for the sake of adding to general knowledge.

What drew you to UCLA and the Luskin Center for Innovation?

When I applied to public policy programs, I was drawn to Luskin School of Public Affairs because of all the schools I looked at, it is practicing the principles of equity and justice. For example, the admissions staff hosted workshops to help applicants who may have had fewer opportunities to learn how to, for example, write a statement of purpose. When I enrolled, I was interested in working with LCI for the same reason: our researchers and staff truly put equity at the center of our work, as opposed to just talking about it.

What are a few things people should know about you?

I think of myself as a generalist. I’ve shied away from narrowing in on one topic — I like to gain broad skills that I can apply to numerous topics.

Also, I LOVE spreadsheets. Not just for project management, but for my personal planning. Whenever I can find a use for it, I make a spreadsheet.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I really enjoy camping, hiking, reading, and making things. I’ve sewn quilts and multiple Halloween costumes, and my partner and I built our coffee table when we moved to LA.

To get in touch with Lauren, contact her at ldunlap@luskin.ucla.edu.