Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Breaking News

ESS Alumnus Nick Obradovich, Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and Research Scientist at MIT

Nick’s work focuses on climate change, politics, and the societal impacts of climate change

One of the first alumni in our environmental studies program is well on his path towards significant scientific contributions in the field of climate science, at a time when scientists and policy makers worldwide are concerned about rising global temperatures as well as rising political tensions.

Nick Obradovich (’09 Economics and Environmental Studies) demonstrated his academic and leadership potential early on. After graduating with a B.S. in Economics and Environmental Studies from Santa Clara University summa cum laude, and spending time as a visiting student in economics and geography at the University of Oxford, Nick earned a M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science at UCSD in 2016. He is now a postdoctoral fellow in the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program at Kennedy’s School of Government at Harvard University, as well as a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a human-environmental systems fellow in the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

Nick has worked on an exciting array of projects, including a study that examined the role of collective versus personal responsibility in shaping climate-related political behaviors, a study that investigates how political attitudes may be altered by exposure to extreme weather, a project that identified political hurdles to enacting climate change policies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and a study looking at the potential for climatic changes to alter rates of democratic turnover. He is currently studying human adaptation and migration in the context of climate change.

Although barely out of graduate school, Nick’s work has been recognized in the scientific and policy community. He has had six peer-reviewed publications since 2016 alone, and several more under review (see below). His findings have been reported in the news media ranging from the Washington Post and Climate News Network, to the Wall Street Journal. In addition to these accolades, he has been awarded several prestigious grants and fellowships.

While at SCU, Nick won the 2009 Nobili Medal, a Hackworth Fellowship, a Peace and Justice Fellowship, an Honors Program Academic Scholarship and a Dean’s Academic Scholarship.

Nick took ENVS 23 from ESS faculty member Iris Stewart-Frey the very first time ESS offered this course in the Spring of 2007. She distinctly remembers Nick asking questions about rising CO2 concentrations and ocean acidification at a time when few non-scientists were making that connection. Iris and Nick literally crossed paths again at a recent scientific conference. Looking back, Nick stated “Your course was one of the primary reasons that I ended up being as interested in climate/earth systems as I am." Nick also stated: “Santa Clara provided me with an excellent and well-rounded education that set me on the course  I'm on now. It was really indispensable.”

  1. Obradovich, N. (2017). Climate change may speed democratic turnover. Climatic Change, 140(2), 135-147.
  2. Obradovich, N. and Zimmerman, B. (2016). African voters indicate lack of support for climate change policies. Environmental Science & Policy, 66, 292-298.
  3. Leas, E.C., Althouse, B.M., Dredze, M., Obradovich, N., Fowler, J.H., Noar, S.M., Allem, J., and Ayers, J.W. (2016). Big data sensors of organic advocacy: The case of Leonardo Dicaprio and climate change. PLoS ONE, 11 (8), e0159885.
  4. Obradovich, N. and Guenther, S.M. (2016). Collective responsibility amplifies mitigation behaviors. Climatic Change, 137(1), 307-319.
  5. Chacko, G., Evans, C.L., and Obradovich, N. (2016). Electoral systems and agricultural critical goods. Journal of Business and Policy Research, 11(1), 16-35.
  6. Kryvasheyeu, Y., Chen, H., Obradovich, N., Moro, E., Van Hentenryck, P., Fowler, J.H., and Cebrian, M. (2016). Rapid assessment of disaster damage using social media activity. Science Advances, 2 (3), e1500779.
esshome, Alumni Story