International Student Ambassador Program

The Planetary Health Center of Expertise International Student Ambassador (ISA) Program aims to develop visionary young leaders who will design and implement planetary health initiatives in their home countries.

Student ambassadors design a summer project around a topic of their choice, a new idea or a planetary health component added to an existing program. Projects can be conducted in the US or in the ambassador’s home region.

In addition, Planetary Health International Student Ambassadors:

  • Are introduced to the core elements of Planetary Health
  • Gain experience in developing multi-sectoral solutions for sustainable development
  • Apply critical thinking skills to real world problems
  • Develop leadership, research and advocacy skills
  • Strengthen professional network by reaching out to potential collaborators
  • Learn from Planetary Health experts within the UC system, across the US and in Africa

2018 International Student Ambassadors

Laura Atukunda

Laura Atukunda Major: Public Health
Department: Public Health
Level: Bachelor’s candidate
Campus: UC Berkeley
Home Country: Uganda

Planetary Health Vision: I would like to work towards ensuring that Uganda’s youth have access to quality education, healthcare services, and mobility. I plan to create and implement sustainable programs that address and accommodate the growing population, improve urban planning, and effectively manage natural resources and ecosystems.

Project Objective: Teenage pregnancy has many negative social and environmental consequences in Uganda. I plan to work with communities and organizations to conduct research to fully understand the context, risk factors, and causes of adolescent pregnancies in the country, and effectively address the problem by working with community-based organizations using a multidisciplinary approach.

Background: I was born and grew up in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Both of my parents are from Western Uganda, close to the border of Rwanda.

Hobbies and Interests: I enjoy traveling, writing, African history and politics, and soccer.

Sara Habiba

Sara Habiba Major: Public Health and Environmental Health Sciences
Department: Public Health and Environmental Health Sciences
Level: Master’s candidate
Campus: UC Berkeley
Home Country: Egypt

Planetary Health Vision: I would like to improve environmental equity using multi-sectorial collaborations to identify the environmental implications of climate change. My focus is on achieving sustainable development goals that will benefit human health and protect biodiversity in Africa.

Project Objective: My project will examine the implication(s) of climate change on agriculture and water security in North Africa, with a specific focus on disadvantaged communities most adversely affected by these changes.

Background: My family is from Al-Iskandariyyah, a historical city located on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, the second biggest city in Egypt where a busy modern lifestyle exists alongside its ancient history.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy gardening, photography and hiking.

Samira Ismaili

Samira Ismaili

Research focus: Hydro-economic optimization
Level: PhD candidate
Department: Land, Atmosphere and Water Resources
Campus: UC Davis
Home Country: Morocco

Planetary Health Vision: To build bridges between science and social issues, especially where climate change is affecting populations in Morocco and across Africa. I would like to work through international organizations to create a regional network in North Africa to develop solutions to water management problems.

Project Objective: Integrated water management of watersheds in north California to provide background and experience that is transferrable to Morocco where water is a valuable resource.

Background: I was born in Casablanca, Morocco. Growing up, I was surrounded by intelligent women: my mother, aunts and grandmothers. I always thought that these women could have shaped our society and improved our cultural heritage had they been offered the appropriate tools and skills. Consequently, from the age of nine, I understood that education is powerful. I was driven by these women to pursue my agricultural engineering degree in Morocco and my PhD here in the US.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy going to the beach and being close to nature in coastal areas. I love to read and dance.

Kwinoja Kapiteni

Kwinoja Kapiteni Major: Epidemiology/Biostatistics
Department: Public Health
Level: Master’s Candidate
Campus: UC Berkeley
Home Country: Tanzania

Planetary health Vision: I envision a future with healthier and more sustainable towns and cities in low- and middle-income countries.

Project objective: My project will focus on factors affecting coastal urbanization, including marine pollution and related health impacts using Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as a case study.

Background: I grew up in Mbeya town, which is located in the Southern highlands of Tanzania. The main economic activity in the region is small-scale farming, which I was actively involved in while growing up.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy crime & mystery stories- in novels, films and podcasts.

Albert Kisole

Albert Kisole Major: Mechanical Engineering
Department: Engineering
Level: Bachelor’s candidate
Campus: UC Berkeley
Home Country: Tanzania

Planetary Health Vision: I envision Planetary Health becoming a top platform for innovators and researchers aiming to contribute to a transformation of livelihoods in Tanzania.

Project Objectives: I plan to collaborate with the STICLab or ShuleDirect in Tanzania to contribute to the development of an efficient meter to measure household water usage, leading to greater transparency and improved communications between users and water companies.


Hobbies/Interests: I love playing and watching soccer. I love fishing too.

Marie Pelagie Una Elimbi Moudio

Marie Pelagie Una Elimbi Moudio

Research focus: Data-driven decision making and optimizations
Department: Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Level: PhD Candidate
Campus: UC Berkeley
Home Country: Cameroon

Planetary Health Vision: I envision a future for Cameroon where decision makers include relevant sustainability indexes in their decision-making processes and where the educational system will develop into one where, from infancy, students are taught to consider sustainable measures when designing or implementing solutions.

Project Objective: I will reach out to design education collaborative ‘spaces’ such as ActivSpaces and Caysti in Cameroon that focus on empowering youth through design education. I hope to encourage them to incorporate sustainable design and manufacturing concepts in their programs. I also plan to help establish Planetary Health clubs in secondary and high schools in Cameroon which will train youth in art, design and engineering to encourage the use of locally developed, sustainable alternatives for generating new products for the economy.

Background: I was born and raised in Douala and moved to South Africa to study at the African Leadership academy (ALA). This unique high school exposed me to a diverse set of passionate and talented young Africans seeking to change their continent. I became more aware of my ability to impact my community using the tools I learnt at ALA.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy food tasting, baking, reading fiction and poetry, and dancing.

Janice Mwaniki

Janice Mwaniki Major: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Department: Biological Sciences
Level: Bachelor’s in Science
Campus: UC Davis
Home Country: Kenya

Planetary Health Vision: I envision a reduction in morbidity and mortality rates due to infectious diseases in Kenya such as cholera, typhoid, and HIV/AIDS due to the development and implementation of a bottom-up approach focused on community empowerment.

Project Objective: Reduce environmental pollution in Kibera neighborhood of Nairobi through youth empowerment and skill building. The project aims to engage local youth to transform the region into a cleaner and more livable area for the people of Kibera.

Background: I was born and raised in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. I went to boarding schools since I was 12 years old. My parents believe education and self independence go hand in hand. After completing high school, They sent me to California to continue studying

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy cooking, singing and dancing. I love hiking and swimming

Ashley Jean Sango

Ashley Jean Sango Major: Public Health
Department: Public Health
Level: Bachelor’s candidate
Campus: UC Berkeley
Home Country: Zimbabwe

Planetary Health Vision: I envision greater public investment in environmentally sustainable practices that will benefit both the present and future generations. I hope to see Zimbabweans innovatively designing our own scalable solutions with the diverse resources we have. This shift will encourage the government and every citizen to do their part in building a healthy society. Anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or professional field, can meaningfully take part.

Project Objective: Waste management is a major environmental and public health issue in Zimbabwe. My project is to research ways in which human behavior related to waste management can be quantified and visualized. I hope to identify scalable solutions to counter and reduce harmful effects of improper disposal of waste.

Background: Growing up, I split my time between the city and the countryside. My parents were professionals who supplemented their income with farming. Hence, although we lived mainly in the city, I spent a fair amount of my weekends and school holidays milking cows, growing cabbages and exploring nature.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy reading books (fiction and non-fiction), watching the news, putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing tetris, and running outdoors.

Mokganedi Tatlhego

Mokganedi Tatlhego

Area of Research: Eco-hydrology
Department: Environmental Science Policy and Management
Level: PhD Candidate
Campus: UC Berkeley
Home Country: Botswana

Planetary Health Vision: I would like to bridge the gap between indigenous and scientific knowledge by improving information sharing, not only from the scientific end, but also from indigenous communities. I envision a country that understands the values held by different stakeholders related to the environment and its resources and thrives to respond to issues of sustainability and environmental health in a cooperative manner.

Project Objectives: To use spatial imagery and on-ground truthing to determine land use, and land cover changes related to mining in Botswana, and to measure its impact on immediate communities, natural ecosystems and water resources around dams.

Background: My home village is on a tributary of the Okavango Delta, which empties into the Kalahari Desert. I grew up in a small-scale farming environment that had both arable and pastoral farmers. Rainfall is very scarce even in the short rainy season (~450mm per annum) and temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius in the remaining nine months of the year. Maun is the tourism capital of Botswana, where tourists head into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, the Makgadikgadi and the Okavango Delta.

Hobbies/Interests: I play guitar, I enjoy learning new languages, and I love dancing.