Claire Wayner, class of 2022, is among 55 college students nationwide named 2020 Udall Scholars. Scholars receive up to $7,000 and are selected based on their leadership, public service, academic excellence, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.
Claire Wayner, a sophomore civil and environmental engineering major getting certificates in environmental studies, sustainable energy and urban studies, received an Environmental scholarship for students interested in careers related to the environment.
Wayner considers climate change to be her generation’s greatest challenge and hopes to work in or with the federal government to decarbonize the global energy supply. Last year, Wayner was a PICS intern at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) where she helped write legal briefs on the climate impact of natural gas pipelines and hydroelectric plants, as well as a 27-page paper on a policy approach to pricing carbon. This summer, she will study policy avenues for battery storage in South Asia at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) through Princeton’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative.
On campus, Wayner actively works to reduce the University’s environmental footprint. She is president of the Princeton Student Climate Initiative where she spearheaded a student referendum to accelerate the University’s path to carbon neutrality, and met with University administrators to help implement the referendum. She later established a permanent USG sustainability committee. As an EcoRep through the Office of Sustainability, Wayner advises event organizers across campus on reducing waste and, as a PEI summer intern in 2019, volunteered with Princeton’s Engineers Without Borders-Peru team to complete a gravity-fed water system for the village of Pusunchás.
Wayner’s interest in environmental policy started as a high school student when she co-founded the non-profit group Baltimore Beyond Plastic, which grew to more than 300 members and succeeded in getting bans on Styrofaom passed in Baltimore and Maryland. She shared a 2018 Barron Prize for Young Heroes for her work. “Receiving the Udall scholarship is a true honor, and I am grateful to all of those who have supported and mentored me along the way,” Wayner said. “I am looking forward to expanding on the environmental work that I’ve done thus far by continuing to study and advocate for a net-zero carbon future.”