Ground Control Team

For the past several years, the University of Michigan (UM) has sent a delegation of students to the various COPs to increase transparency of the negotiations toward civil society. In response, an on-campus group called Climate Blue has been organized to build a more resilient platform for the delegations and the broader UM community to engage in relevant climate change issues. One of the foundations of Climate Blue is the Ground Control team, which opens connections to COP22 for more stakeholders, while bridging the activities of the COP22 delegation in Marrakech with our home community in Ann Arbor. The Ground Control team performs critical work in researching the various policy topics being discussed at COP22, brainstorming activities and other events for delegates and Climate Blue members to learn from, and identifying ways to communicate and engage more students and community members on these important issues.


Some short bios this year’s COP-22 Ground Control team are provided below:

Matt Gacioch, Team Manager: Matt is a third year dual masters student between the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ross School of Business (Erb). His interests lie at the intersection of the public and private sectors, with particular interest in natural resource conservation and sustainable development.

Lizz Ultee, Team Manager: Lizz is a Ph.D. candidate in climate science. She values a holistic approach to her work and is interested in the social and political impacts of natural science research. Attending COP-21 (Paris, 2015) as an observer delegate, Lizz paid special attention to the role of non-state actors such as tribes, local governments, and nonprofit organisations in addressing climate change. This year, she is delighted to be following COP-22 from Ann Arbor with an even bigger and stronger Climate Blue team.

Sam Basile, Outreach Coordinator: Sam is a PhD student in the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering department. She is interested in understanding how the carbon cycle is represented in climate models and how model output can be used to inform policy decisions. Her current research focuses on the sensitivity of the carbon cycle to precipitation in tropical regions. She is also interested in the exchange between scientists and decision makers and how communities prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Kevin He, Editor-in-Chief: Kevin is a second-year student and Wyss Scholar at the School of Natural Resources and Environment focusing on environmental policy and economics. His primary focus is on ecosystem-level conservation, specifically in how to leverage market dynamics (such as private finance) in achieving conservation outcomes.

Tyler Fitch, Sustainable Development Team Lead: Tyler is a first-year student with the School of Natural Resources and Environment, with a focus on environmental policy. He’s interested in overcoming the political challenges of national clean energy policies. He hopes to bring the COP negotiations closer to the Ann Arbor community as a member of the Ground Control team this year.

Jordon Tourville, Deforestation Team Lead: Jordon is a first-year master’s student with the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, with a focus on conservation and ecology. His primary interest is understanding how forest ecosystems will change as a result of anthropogenic changes including climate change and species invasions. He is also interested in how basic science can better inform management and policy decisions.