MISSOULA – Nicky Phear, the Climate Change Studies coordinator at the University of Montana, recently was named the 2016 recipient of the Clean Energy and Empowerment Education (C3E) Award from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The national award recognizes Phear’s leadership in education about clean energy and her mentorship of students in this field.
“It’s a great honor to receive this recognition,” Phear said. “I can’t think of a more worthy goal than empowering our youth to tackle our planet’s energy and climate challenges.”
C3E was launched in 2010 to promote women leaders in the clean energy fields. It is led by the U.S. Department of Energy in collaboration with the MIT Energy Initiative and the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy.
Each year awardees are selected in eight categories to recognize mid-career women who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishments in clean energy.
Phear will accept the award on May 31 at the C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium at Stanford University.
In 2008, she helped develop one of the nation’s first and only academic programs to focus on climate change. She now oversees the interdisciplinary Climate Change Studies minor at UM. She also has advised and mentored nearly 150 students through this program.
She teaches the Introduction to Climate Change: Science and Society course required of all students in the minor. Phear also coordinates internship and mentoring opportunities for 20 to 25 students each year. Her support and encouragement has led to students receiving prestigious awards, including six Udall and three Truman Scholarships, two Newman Civic Fellow Awards, and one Rhodes and two Marshall Scholar finalist positions, all within the past six years.
Since 2006, she has led student educational experiences to enhance interaction and understanding of how climate change affects the natural environment. She developed the innovative Cycle the Rockies course for the Wild Rockies Field Institute, which teaches students about energy and climate change as they cycle across Montana. She also developed a similar Bhutan Ride for Climate, which fosters the exchange of ideas regarding climate change between Bhutanese and U.S. students as they bike across Bhutan.
Phear also leads a student course in Vietnam, teaching six credits on climate change effects and adaptation and societal impacts in the Mekong Delta. In addition, she is an active member of the campus community, overseeing residence hall sustainability and organizing climate change discussions. She developed UM’s EcoReps program, which places student sustainability advocates in the residence halls.
Phear also is a founding member of the Climate Smart Missoula organization and a member of UM’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Initiative, created by President Royce Engstrom in August 2015 to build a culture of support for women’s leadership at UM.