Ambassadors bring ND-GAIN Across the Country


Our researchers may be based in South Bend, IN, but our Urban Adaptation Assessment is analyzing cities across the nation. Likewise, ND-GAIN is based at Notre Dame, but we’re surrounded by a bustling academic community with roots around the world. Making use of these connections, ND-GAIN invited five undergraduates to join our team as pilot Urban Adaptation Ambassadors last spring.

With majors ranging from anthropology, political science and Spanish to economics, environmental science and engineering these students come from varied backgrounds both academically and geographically. Yet with similar minors in sustainability or energy studies they share a passion for seeking solutions to today’s wide-ranging climate concerns.

As the spring semester wrapped up at Notre Dame, these students asked questions, discussed possibilities and prepared to return to their hometowns to find some answers. Curiosity was tangible as the students launched into their summer, crafting case studies about adaptation concerns pertinent to their own cities. Below you can learn about each of the ambassadors and dive into their research in cities across the country.


Gracie Georgi – Irvine, California | View Case Study & Blog


Gracie is a junior inspired to study political science, German and energy by her passion for the environment, international relations, US foreign policy, German history and prompting positive action.

Gracie examined adaptation planning in Irvine, CA. Then she asked: how does a local Notre Dame alumni club view climate change and the UAA tool? To find out, she gave a presentation and wrote about her experience.

 Michael Kay – Cleveland, Ohio | View Case Study


Michael is a junior from Cleveland, Ohio studying Electrical Engineering and pursuing an Energy Studies Minor. He is passionate about the role of energy in the climate change conversation and the increasing role of renewable energies in the world.

Michael examined Cleveland’s sustainable energy projects, ranging from an offshore wind development in Lake Erie to Solarize Cleveland, increasing the numbers of homes in the city that have solar panels. How do these innovations support adaptation and how are they explained to consumers?

Tai Verbrugge – Grand Rapids, Michigan | View Case Study


Tai is a junior studying accounting and sustainability. He hails from Grand Rapids, where he hopes to return upon graduation to pursue his CPA and found a sustainability-minded business.

Grand Rapids, MI has robust adaptation plans, but do the residents know about them and know where they fit in? What about the schools in this bustling college town, what role do they play? Tai interviewed teachers and professors to answer these questions.


Anna Scartz – Atlanta, Georgia | View Case Study


Anna is a sophomore planning to major in anthropology and economics. At Notre Dame she is involved in Green ND, Fossil Free ND and a Sustainability Plan Small Working Group, pursuing her passion to fight climate change.

Anna’s research focused on Atlanta’s Office of Innovation, asking how the city approaches adaptation in a metropolitan urban center and how ND-GAIN’s Urban Adaptation Assessment can help.

Greg Campion – Boston Massachusetts | View Case Study


Greg is a sophomore environmental engineering major and sustainability minor whose concern for the global scale of the injustice posed by climate change originally motivated him to choose an environmental-related course of study. 

Boston has exciting adaptation initiatives, but how are they effectively implemented? Greg examined Boston’s approach to increasingly prevalent flood hazards, exploring how the city defines hazards and vulnerable populations.