Each year, we employ and support about 50 students to conduct environmental policy research, further their professional development, and add capacity to community organizations and other civic partners advancing environmental sustainability and justice.

We regularly hire student assistants and graduate student researchers to work with our staff. If you are a current UCLA student interested in joining the Luskin Center for Innovation (Center), please visit our team page and contact the team member(s) most aligned with your interests to discuss employment opportunities.

Grants and Fellowships

If you are prospective or current UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs (Luskin School) student interested in applying to one of our funding programs, please see the following opportunities described in detail below:

  • Research Fellowships
  • Field Fellowships for Environmental Justice
  • Graduate Research Grants

Research Fellowships

We offer two types of research fellowships for prospective graduate students applying to a graduate degree program at the Luskin School:

  1. The Research Fellowship for Environmental Policy Innovation is offered to students with a demonstrated interest in environmental planning and policy analysis.
  2. The Research Fellowship for Environmental Justice is offered to students motivated to address environmental racism and other inequities.

Application process

Prospective students can apply as part of the departments’ standard degree application. In your application, indicate your interest in receiving a fellowship from the Luskin Center for Innovation. We encourage applications from students of color, first-generation students, and other underrepresented groups interested in conducting research or applied work in environmental sustainability, including but not limited to the field of environmental justice and equity.

Field Fellowship for Environmental Justice

This program continues the Center’s commitment to supporting first-generation Bruins, students of color, and other emerging environmental leaders. It also supports environmental justice organizations that host the student fellows as interns. Through action-oriented projects, fellows learn from and collaborate with frontline communities to realize healthier, more sustainable, and livable environments. Fellows are matched with a supervising mentor who provides project guidance and career advice.

Types of host organizations

Fellows collaborate with nonprofit organizations committed to environmental equity and justice. Each year, we invite several partners to participate, and applicants can select which organization(s) and project(s) are of top interest. The internship may be virtual or in-person, based on health guidelines and organizational needs.

Host organizations for the upcoming 2024-25 year include: Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability, Pacoima Beautiful, and The Greenlining Institute. See below for current and recent past host organizations and student fellows. 

Lesly Figueroa

Lesly Figueroa

Lesly is working with San Bernardino-based The People’s Collective for Environmental Justice to support their water justice advocacy work in the Inland Empire. She is researching water quality issues and identifying community advocacy opportunities. Lesly is a graduate student in the master of urban and regional planning program with a background in policy advocacy, strategic communications, and community organizing.

Adriana Ochoa

Adriana is a fellow with The Greenlining Institute, where she is assisting community-based organizations in the City of Pomona to apply for funding to bring climate resources to underinvested areas. Adriana is pursuing a master of urban and regional planning, rooted in climate justice and resilience.

Dilia Ortega

Dilia Ortega

As a fellow with the Better World Group, Dilia is supporting equity-centered clean transportation coalitions and policy campaigns. Dilia is a master of urban and regional planning student with a background in community organizing with the environmental justice organization Communities for Better Environment, where she advocated for the deployment of zero-emissions trucks and infrastructure along the 710 freeway corridor.

Abhilasha Bhola

Abhilasha is a fellow with the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, where she will focus on passing clean air regulation at the California Air Resources Board and conducting research on the warehousing industry in the Inland Empire. Abhilasha is pursuing a master in public policy, specializing in economic development and environmental policy.

Evelin Estrada

As a fellow with the Better World Group, Evelin will support equity-centered clean transportation campaigns. She brings experience in campaigning, policy analysis and geospatial information science to the role. Evelin is a master of public policy student concentrating in environmental and social policy.

Juan Flores

Juan will work with Better World Group, conducting research on zero-emission transportation policies to advance environmental equity campaigns. Juan is an undergraduate student with a public affairs major and public health minor. He is passionate about bridging these two fields to create long-term solutions for systemic issues to build healthy communities.

Lillian Liang

Lillian is a fellow with the Greenlining Institute, where she will collaborate with partners in San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys to build a peer-to-peer climate justice learning group. Her work will support community visions for climate resilience and equity. As an urban planning master’s student, Lillian is interested in the intersection of climate adaptation with environmental and social justice, and aims to build capacity in frontline communities of color to face climate change.

Austin Mendoza

As a fellow with the Sierra Club, Austin (he/him) will support building decarbonization efforts in Los Angeles. He will use an environmental justice lens while researching policies, creating communications campaigns, and participating in stakeholder meetings. Austin is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy, and he hopes to use his experiences in policy research and communications to advance environmental justice work in his career.

Leslie Velasquez

Leslie will work with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice to support their air quality work in the Inland Empire. Leslie is a graduate student in the master of urban planning program with a background in policy research and environmental justice organizing.

Krystle Yu

As a fellow with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Krystle will be support  the organization’s intersectional work in community stability. She will be researching potential environmental gentrification linked to the proposed LA River Master Plan, and exploring commercial tenancy protections and resources. Krystle is a graduate student in the master of urban planning program.

Janet Zamudio

Janet will work with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), conducting research on zero-emission transportation policies to advance environmental justice campaigns. Janet grew up in Southeast Los Angeles, where she first felt environmental injustice first-hand. Janet has a long-standing connection to CBE through her previous work as a youth environmental justice member, facilitator and legal intern. She is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in public affairs and geography.

Stephanie Andrade

While working with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Stephanie Andrade joined a campaign to avoid housing displacement while realizing community-led visions for safe and healthy community spaces along the L.A. River. Stephanie, who grew up in Boyle Heights, graduated with a master’s degree in urban planning.

Sachi Cooper

Sachi Cooper interned with Pacoima Beautiful, creating an interactive mapping tool to advance environmental health and justice campaigns in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. Sachi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geography.

Deja McCauley

As a fellow with Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA, Deja McCauley researched bioremediation and brownfields in South Los Angeles. Her work contributed to a toolkit for residents, supporting community-led efforts to transform contaminated soil into healthy green spaces. Deja is pursuing a master’s degree in urban and regional planning.

Linda Mitchell

Linda Mitchell worked with the Better World Group, conducting research on zero-emission transportation policies to advance environmental equity campaigns in collaboration with diverse coalitions. She also continued the focus on clean transportation as a fellow with Communities for a Better Environment. Linda graduated with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in public affairs with a minor in environmental systems and society.

Sarah Perez

While interning with Pacoima Beautiful, Sarah engaged with community stakeholders on environmental justice campaigns. She also used her policy analysis skills to conduct research on the Whiteman Airport and associated hazards such as aviation accidents, emissions, and noise pollution. Sarah graduated with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in public affairs and minoring in global studies.

Lana Zimmerman

Lana worked with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians in their Environmental Protection Division. In her position, she conducted policy research to support their sustainable land stewardship and land use planning. Lana grew up in the San Fernando Valley, the territorial land of the Fernandeño Tataviam, and is a graduate student in the Master of Public Policy program.

Aeden Keffelew

A public policy master student, Aeden interned with Kounkuey Design Initiative to use her filmmaking skills to document narratives from BIPOC Angelenos about the Pacoima Wash as an environmental and social amenity. Aeden also worked with us and the USC Schwarzenegger Institute to reduce the environmental footprint of film production.

Monika Shankar

As an urban and regional planning masters student, Monika assessed the progress of Clean Up Green Up in Los Angeles, one of the first environmental justice land use policies secured by grassroots groups. Monika’s work will inform actions by the LA Mayor Garcetti’s Office, her project client, to implement and potentially expand this landmark initiative.

Tayler Ward

A dual degree graduate student in public health and urban and regional planning, Tayler worked with the Luskin Center for Innovation and other civic collaborators to organize a symposium on how environmental policies and investments in California have impacted Black communities and what improvements could be made.

Award amounts

  • $4,000 stipend for undergraduate students who work at least 220 hours with their client
  • $7,500 stipend for graduate students who meet their department’s internship hour requirements

Student eligibility

Those eligible are students currently enrolled in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The fellowship is designed to meet your department’s internship or work requirements during your final year or summer of your program. It could be used as part of a Luskin graduate student’s capstone project.

Selection criteria

As part of the application, students provide a well-written statement that explains why you want to collaborate with a specific organization and how doing so would advance your career goals. The review committee will evaluate candidates based on demonstrated commitment and leadership potential for environmental equity and justice, as well as fit with a partner organization. Note that this is typically a highly competitive fellowship program.


Student applications for the summer of 2024 or academic year 2024 – 2025 are due on March 31.

Graduate Research Grants

This program provides an opportunity for Luskin School students to receive support for their theses, Applied Policy Projects, Applied Planning Research Projects, or other capstone projects specific to their department. The objective is to support student projects that otherwise would not be possible without financial or professional support.

Eligibility & Timeline

Open to current UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs graduate and undergraduate students.

Application period: November 1 to December 15, 2023

Award notifications: mid-January 2024

Award amount and expectations

The program offers:

  • Funding for direct costs associated with the student-led research project.
  • Funding to 501(c)3-6 community-based organizations involved in student-led community-driven research. This funding could be used to compensate staff for their time assisting or advising the student and community members who are sources of information.
  • Layout and design support.
  • Assistance with publicity and distribution of project findings.

The award support is typically up to $3,000, although the Center may consider awards of up to $5,000 on a case-by-case basis for a community-based organization that is essential to novel research.

(between November 1 and December 15, 2023)

Past awardees include:

Other Opportunities and Resources

In addition to directly providing opportunities for students, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation seeks to connect Bruins with external opportunities that can further their interest in environmental sustainability. The internships, research programs, and organizations below can provide students with opportunities to preserve and restore California’s environment.