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I'm Charlie Chesney,
an environmental innovator.
How can we ensure equitable access to economic development and essential resources worldwide without compromising our natural world? I strive to find solutions to this problem by leveraging innovative technologies and efficient problem solving approaches. My PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz focuses on the development of an innovative renewable energy technology that will enable us to meet our electricity demands with minimal ecosystem and community harm. I'm also passionate about educating the next generation of scientists through popular science media and participating in mentorship programs.

University of California, Santa Cruz

PhD Environmental Studies

Loik Lab

Sept 2020 - Present

University of Oxford

MSc Biodiversity, Conservation & Management

Oct 2017 - Sept 2018



San Francisco State University

BSc Biology/Zoology

Aug 2011 - May 2015

Magna Cum Laude

- Qualitative & Quantitative Research -

- Academic, Technical & Popular Science Writing -

- Mentoring / Teaching Students - 

- Field Work & Wildlife Handling -

- Design Thinking for Innovation -

- Lean / Scrum Methodologies & Tools -

- Event Planning & Coordination -

- Podcast Production -


March 2022

Presented at the UC Santa Cruz Plant Science Symposium. Talk titled "Living Solar Panels: Towards Opuntia-based Electricity"

February 2022

Successfully designed, built, programmed, and deployed IoT-based in situ plant monitoring devices

December 2021

Awarded $1,000 scholarship from the Paliwal Club of 100 STEAM Scholars Fund


November 2021

Awarded $220 from UC Santa Cruz's Plant Sciences Fund 

November 2021

Chosen to participate in UC Santa Cruz's CORE Undergrad/Grad STEM Mentorship Program and awarded $1,200 to pay an undergraduate student a stipend to participate in my PhD research

October 2021

Invited to give a talk at Cairo Water Week Conference in Cairo, Egypt titled "California's Efforts to Revive Its Dying Salton Sea"

September 2021

Gave seminar talk for the Environmental Studies department at UC Santa Cruz titled "Lithium Extraction at the Salton Sea"

December 2020

Invited to be a guest speaker for Earth Team, talk titled "Becoming a STEM Researcher"

August 2020

Awarded the AmeriCorps Education Award ($10,000) for completing the Climate Corps AmeriCorps fellowship

May 2020

Organized and guided student teams to present research and year achievements to an audience of students, scientists, and local government officials

May 2020

Guided student teams to compete in SEI's environmental campaign competitions, winning first and second place

April 2020

Gave "Technology for Conservation" webinar hosted by Climate Corps AmeriCorps


March 2020

Guided student team to host educational environmental art event at San Lorenzo Library

February 2020

Gave "Blockchain for Nature & People" webinar hosted by Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition

November 2019

Grand Prize Winner of Conservation X Labs Technology Prize for blockchain prototype ($20,000)

October 2019

Included in WWF's 17 ideas that could change the world

August 2019

Awarded $650 from Impactio pilot for NeuTreeLize

June 2019

Spoke on the New Finance Mechanisms panel at the Blockchain for Social Impact conference in New York

May 2019

Coordinated the collaboration between Ecosulis, Panda Labs and the University of Oxford to produce a conservation blockchain technical brief inspired by my MSc dissertation (in production)


March 2019 

Joined WWF’s Panda Labs core team as an ‘Honorary Panda’


September 2018

Received distinction on MSc dissertation & overall course work


May 2018

One of three students chosen to present MSc dissertation topic at WildCRU Colloquium


February 2018

Presented at WWF-UK Innovation Challenge

August 2017

Recognized by Michelle Obama for achieving a MSc acceptance to the University of Oxford

June 2017

Coordinated and led community BioBlitz event


February 2017

Publication of co-authored animal behavior study at the San Francisco Zoo

May 2015

Graduated Magna Cum Laude ​from San Francisco State University

February 2014

Became the first student researcher at the San Francisco Zoo’s Wellness & Conservation Center, establishing an independent study program for San Francisco State University zoology students 

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