Lauren Mechak

Lauren Mechak

Lauren Mechak is a first year Master of Environmental Management candidate (2018) at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, with a concentration in Environmental Economics and Policy.  Before coming to Duke, she worked as a population biologist at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago building quantitative population models examining the demographic and genetic sustainability of the animals held in U.S. zoos and aquariums. During her time working at the zoo, she discovered her passion for using quantitative results to inform management decisions, and bridging the gaps between scientists and decision makers. Lauren is currently focusing her studies on climate change science, economics, and policy. After graduating from Duke University, Lauren hopes to work domestically on climate change mitigation policy to ensure decisions are made using the best available science.

Career Interests

Working at the intersection of science and policy; climate change mitigation policy; carbon markets.

Employment Sought:
Permanent Position


Master of Environmental Management, May 2018
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University, Durham, NC
Environmental Economics and Policy

Professional Experience

Research Assistant, Duke University, Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative, Durham, NC
Drafted, researched, and created a risk analysis survey for educational institutions when purchasing carbon offsets. Facilitated the development of a suite of resources for Duke University employees regarding energy efficiency, including creating workshop educational materials. Consulted on data management improvements to track annual energy savings and carbon offset purchases for Duke University. September 2016 - Present
Midwest Clean Energy Policy Intern, Union of Concerned Scientists, Chicago, IL
Drafted memos on Illinois grid modernization proceeding, including specific recommendations for organizational engagement used by senior staff members to advocate for additional organizational resources in the Midwestern region. Researched atmospheric pollution health impact models and developed a decision matrix that included costs, data requirements, and expected outputs. Matrix used by senior managers to consider contracting modelers. Created map graphics with data from S&P Global Market Intelligence Data in Tableau to be used for federal clean energy advocacy. May 2017 – August 2017
Associate Population Biologist, Lincoln Park Zoo – Conservation and Science Department, Chicago, IL
Built models to simulate demographic and genetic challenges and solutions in the long-term management of zoo animals held across the United States; 1 of only 3 people in the country to conduct such work. Served as lead author on ~25 technical reports per year published on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) website outlining model outputs to be used by zoo curators and directors. Presented results at AZA Annual Conferences (2014 & 2015) including 2 poster and 2 oral presentations. Led 2+ monthly meetings with zoo professionals to determine how real-world issues could be quantified. July 2014 - August 2016
Research Assistant, Lincoln Park Zoo – Conservation and Science Department, Chicago, IL
Promoted due to excellent technical research skills and proactively learning model mechanics. Served as point of contact for external reviewers to complete the editing process in a timely manner. Edited final reports for spelling and grammatical errors before uploading them to the website. Created and maintained a database to track report progress and compile output data. Provided administrative support to the research team including scheduling meetings. January 2014 - July 2014

Additional Information

Student Activities at Duke University
•    Article Editor at Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, Fall 2017-Spring 2018.
•    Contributor to SciPol, a Duke University initiative to provide unbiased briefs on science and policy topics Fall 2017-Spring 2018.
•    Teaching Assistant for Environmental Law, ENV 835, Fall 2017.
•    Master’s Project: Creating policy recommendations to implement a carbon tax for the city of Boulder Colorado.

Guaza R., Grow S, Mechak L. Beyond frogs in the field: Explore citizen science online through Frogwatch-Fieldscope. Amphibian Ark Newsletter, December 2013

Chapman C, van Bavel B, Boodman C, Ghai R, Gogarten J, Hartter J, Mechak L, Omeja P, Poonawala S, Tuli D, Goldberg T. 2014. Providing health care to improve community perceptions of protected areas. Oryx, 49, 636-642

I am excited to utilize my professional and academic experience in communicating technical material to non-technical audiences to bridge the gaps between policy-makers, scientists, and stakeholders to create meaningful climate change mitigation policy. 


carbon accounting
climate change
energy efficiency
greenhouse gas mitigation strategies
stakeholder engagement

Graduation Date

May 2018

Additional Resources



Preferred Location


Preferred Sector

Non-profit / NGO
Research Institute / Think Tank
State / Local Government