Introducing the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Policy Fellows

January 29, 2016

The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is pleased to introduce the five new Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Policy Fellows. The Fellows’ research and scholarly projects will result in a deliverable that clearly contributes to advancing the goals of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge: 100-percent renewable energy, 100-percent locally sourced water, and enhanced ecosystem health and human health and well being by 2050 in Los Angeles County. The inspiration for and majority of the funding for this fellowship program came from Norman J. Powell. Matching funds were also provided by the Emmett Family Foundation and the Environment and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.


Heidi Alexander

Architecture and Urban Design


Faculty Mentor: Dana Cuff

Project: “Mapping Historic Energy Zoning and Sustainable Physical Futures in Los Angeles”


Where Los Angeles is concerned, some see “a bureaucratic nightmare.” Heidi Alexander sees “vast opportunity for radical change and progress.” In her research as an architect and urban planner, Heidi explores L.A.’s potential for sustainable urban organization by evaluating the relationship between energy consumption and codes and locating “catalytic areas where real change can be enacted.” She also emphasizes the need for civic engagement as part of the transition to sustainability and ultimately envisions a Los Angeles where “our collective vanity, determination and sportsmanship combine to make LA’s physical future an everyman issue.” In her spare time, Heidi enjoys beach napping.



Jaimee Lederman

Urban Planning


Faculty Mentor: Martin Wachs

Project: “From Great Idea to Sustainable Outcomes: traversing political roadblocks of local participation in regional environmental initiatives.


Jaimee Lederman, a self-proclaimed optimist, approaches the question of sustainability as an urban planning student and a lawyer. She is advocating for a more sustainable Los Angeles on both these fronts through her research, which she describes as “focused on facilitating the implementation of great ideas.” Jaimee is enthusiastic about the potential for positive change at UCLA and in Los Angeles and hopes to “keep our current momentum and vitality, and increase our reputation as a model for urban development” into 2050. When she’s not busy advancing sustainable solutions for urban Los Angeles, Jaimee enjoys kayaking the National Park system.



Lina Stepick



Faculty Mentor: Edward Walker

Project: “Gentrification and Displacement around Transit-Oriented Development and Affordable Housing and Use Policy”


Lina Stepick’s background as a community organizer on issues of gentrification, displacement, and environmental justice has positioned her to investigate the impact of unsustainable practices on urban residents. Specifically, Lina advocates for “analysis that probes more deeply into the effects of density on gentrification, displacement outcomes and vulnerabilities, and potential policy solutions” with respect to transit-oriented development. Lina’s vision for Los Angeles in 2050 includes “unprecedented investment in public transit and other sustainability initiatives… [and] access to affordable housing, transit, public green spaces, clean air, and jobs with dignity.” Most importantly, this Los Angeles will be structured around the input of its most impacted residents. When she’s not engaging in research or community organizing, Lina enjoys dancing, listening to comedy, and playing with her fluffy dog.



Sunny Tsou

Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in the UCLA School of Law


Faculty Mentor: Ann Carlson

Project: “The Potential of Energy Storage Systems: Analyzing how Los Angeles Can Access and Implement This Emerging Technology”


Sunny Tsou became “hooked” on energy issues after taking a class in Energy Law last year. Now, as a fellow with the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, he is actively pursuing this interest by researching “how much energy we use, when we use it, and where it comes from.” In 2050, Sunny envisions a Los Angeles where all citizens- ranging from residents to industries and governments- “all actively participate in achieving 100% renewable energy” by monitoring their own consumption patterns and engaging in the power market. In his spare time, Sunny enjoys hiking, camping, and backpacking with his family and friends



Tyler Watson

Environmental Health Sciences


Faculty Mentor: Hilary Godwin

Project: “Urban Agriculture in Los Angeles County: An Assessment of Public Health Benefits, Production Potential, and Community Access to Local Food”


Tyler Watson identifies sustainability as a necessary and important component of preserving human health and well-being. In his research, Tyler aims to “help ensure that all people in Los Angeles have access to ecosystem health benefits of green space” by leveraging planning and policy to maximize their benefits, including urban farms and gardens. In 2050, Tyler envisions a Los Angeles with a transformed built environment, integrated green natural spaces, and “a network of urban agriculture sites that serve as hubs for local food production, education, and recreation.” An avid hiker and camper himself, Tyler keenly appreciates the importance of protecting our natural environment.