B.S., University of Colorado Boulder, Environmental Engineering, 2002
As a native to Colorado, I was often exploring the foothills and mountains with my family. These visits inspired my connection with nature and shaped my drive to protect it. My parents were vocal advocates for social justice, and this strongly influenced my approach to problem-solving. I was committed to finding a career that not only helped the planet, but also had a direct impact on improving peoples’ lives.
I completed my Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. I quickly received my first engineering job testing hydrocarbon levels in groundwater and monitoring natural attenuation of historic oil and gas spills. I then moved on to my second engineering job, which had a stronger focus on water quality and treatment and permitting and compliance for industrial discharge. While I was actively helping improve the environment, I became engrossed in sustainability. I started learning greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory methods, got a job under the great Hunter Lovins at Natural Capitalism Solutions, and started to get a feel for holistic climate action planning. After training under Lovins, I got a new job as a third-party energy performance contracting consultant for local governments on behalf of the Colorado Energy Office. I loved working and advocating for the interests of the public sector and wanted to bring more sustainable practices to communities. In the summer of 2012, I quit my job and started a boutique sustainability consulting firm called Lotus Engineering and Sustainability, LLC. I provided consulting to local governments on all things related to sustainability, starting with reviews of community solar gardens, and often as a subcontractor to other, larger firms. In 2014, I was awarded my first solo project with the City of Lakewood, modeling the GHG reduction potential of various sustainability strategies. I felt I could be more impactful with peer collaboration, and in 2015, I brought on a business partner.
We slowly found our niche: climate action planning with an emphasis on GHG emission accounting. As of the summer of 2022, I felt that my contribution via Lotus was complete, and I decided to shift my focus to visioning, big-picture thinking by engaging with students at Western State University, and I sold Lotus. Today, I am a mechanical engineering lecturer through the University of Colorado at Boulder partnership with Western State University. I help prepare students with the skills necessary to be sustainability leaders in their communities by teaching them practical climate action planning and solutions centralizing equity and inclusion.
Outside of work, you can find me playing outdoors and celebrating all of the good things in life with family and friends at 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.
How did you discover Western?
I discovered Western through my personal and professional lives. I have lived in the Valley for seven years, and I made several friends who graduated from Western. I have loved hearing about what they learned and seeing how they show up to serve our community. As a former small business owner, I regularly interviewed and hired new staff. Many of our most qualified candidates came from WCU’s MEM and CU’s engineering program! I have been very impressed by the caliber of graduates and their understanding of sustainability and equity.
What are some of the highlights of your career?
Two highlights stand out for me: learning the relevance of engineering and using engineering skills to start a business. As a student I thought that engineering skills were mostly limited to technical problem-solving. Having a diverse career as an engineer, sustainability professional, climate activist, and an entrepreneur, I learned that engineers are needed in so many areas! Especially the less obvious ones, like communication. I have enjoyed learning and fine-tuning these additional skills to become an interdisciplinary professional. Applying these skills helped me start and manage a successful consulting firm.
What most excites you about your field?
I love innovation and visioning. I love that we can question the status quo, learn from what has worked and what hasn’t, and do things differently, and hopefully for the better.
What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?
Dramatically different seasons. In the winter I love bright blue sunny skies with white, glistening snow. In the summer I love neon greens and blues and bright wildflowers. I love that as soon as you get your fill of one sport the season changes and it’s on to another!
- Introduction to Climate Action Planning for Engineers
- Design for Communities
- Thermodynamics I
- Thermodynamics II
Kujundzic, E., Fonseca, A. C., Evans (Artale), E., and Peterson, M. Ultrasonic monitoring of early-stage biofilm growth on polymeric science. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 2007.
External Professional Affiliations
Gunnison Valley Climate Crisis Coalition (GVC3)