Leah Edwards is a Flinn Scholar who has just completed her third year at the University of Arizona, pursuing dual degrees in Environmental and Water Resource Economics and Political Science. She began working as an intern at the Water Resources Research Center in November 2011 on the Connecting Environmental Water Needs to Arizona Water Planning (EnWaP) project.
As a NASA Space Grant Intern, Leah worked with the Office of Sustainability conducting a Life Cycle Assessment of Homecoming Events at the University of Arizona. She also was a Project Manager with the Students for Sustainability Waste Reduction Team, and began the "Ready, Set, Recycle!" initiative to increase recycling rates on campus. She has mapped out the location of every trash can and recycling bin on campus in order to determine how many more recycling bins are needed to make the number of recycling bins equal to the number of trash cans. She has also held internships at Imagine Greater Tucson, Youth On Their Own, Arizona List and Hibernian Legal.
Leah received the First Year Prize in Research as a freshman for her research on reforming animal control policies in Pima County, and later received a grant from the UA Honors College to continue this research. In June 2012, she presented this research at the Roosevelt Institute Policy Expo in Washington, D.C. She has also received the Southern Arizona Environmental Management Society scholarship.
Most recently, Leah was named a 2013 Udall Scholar by the Udall Foundation, which each year holds a competition that awards scholarships to a cohort of college juniors and seniors intending to pursue careers related to the environment. Leah will receive her award this summer at a meeting held in Tucson, AZ, that affords the new Udall Scholars the opportunity to meet policymakers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care, and governance.
Upon graduation, Leah hopes to attend law school and earn her Masters in Environmental Urban Planning and her Juris Doctorate. She hopes to use this combination of law and urban planning to pursue a career addressing environmental issues in urban areas. She wants to focus on Western cities in arid areas and create urban plans that will allow for population growth in the Western United States in a more sustainable manner.