The UCSF EaRTH Center Environmental Scholars Program

A Funded, Community-Based Clinical and Research Program in Environmental Health


The application cycle for the 2024 Environmental Scholars Program is now closed. We will notify applicants of a decision by 5/31/24.


NIEHS spotlighted two of our scholars and the Environmental Scholars Program. Read it here!

Check out our previous classes of ESP scholars here.



2024 Environmental Scholars Program


Environmental Scholars Program Goal 

The Environmental Scholars Program (ESP) aims to build the next generation of environmental health leaders by providing a high-quality, funded, summer internship and research experience that is grounded within and supported by the UCSF EaRTH Center infrastructure.



This year, the ESP program is available to any medical, nursing or dental student with at least 2 years remaining of enrollment at UCSF, and includes a summer internship and report out. Applications will be accepted via this Google form from now until 11:59 pm PT on Thursday, May 23rd and scholars are notified of acceptance no later than May 31st. The program will commence with a virtual orientation session including introductions with current Environmental Scholars as feasible. Summer internships – and the ESP program – commence in June or as late as July, to be negotiated between the student and the preceptor. Summer internships are full-time and 8 weeks long (200 hour total commitment).


Summer Internship 

Goal: The goal of the summer internship experience is to learn about factors in the environment that determine health outcomes, with emphasis on justice and equity. Students are placed in a community clinic or community health organization to work on projects that investigate environmental exposures such as community or job-related health and safety concerns, often for new immigrant groups or underserved communities living in areas of multiple potential environmental chemical exposures, and/or those employed in high-hazard jobs.


Project Description: The ESP is explicitly designed within the participatory research model, wherein students and their host organizations jointly define their Summer Internship Project Description, Learning Objectives, Timeline/Implementation process and final “Give-back” Project. Once determined and agreed upon, ESP students will complete a Project Summary form that will guide regular mentoring and support by EaRTH Center faculty as well as their onsite supervisor.


Learning Objectives: Students learning objectives should reflect their specific interests in environmental health and how the site placement they chose will facilitate that learning. Learning objectives might include: gaining an understanding of the complexity of environmental exposures from healthcare provider and patient perspectives; an understanding of the chemical, physical, and organizational (e.g., community, workplace) factors that play a role in environmental health; the importance of designing environmental interventions to meet the needs of specific and diverse groups of people; and the role of environmental health and safety professionals in improving patient and community health.


“Give-back” Project:  At the end of the summer project, students will have completed a “Give-back” project/product for their host organization, such as data analyses, environmental health education and outreach materials, a survey tool, policy reports, and publications related to the students’ research at their host organizations. The specific “Give-back” Project will be discussed at the beginning of the summer internship and revisited and modified, if necessary, through meetings with EaRTH and on-site mentors. Any publications that the student works on related to their ESP project must cite the P30 (P30-ES030284).


Presentation: Students will give a presentation about their summer internship experience at either the EaRTH Center Annual Research & Translation Forum or at an EaRTH webinar, attended by EaRTH Center members, the Stakeholder Advisory Board, representatives of host organizations, and the larger community.



Students must complete their final project, submit a summative report and provide a presentation. Upon completion, students will receive $5,000 following the summer internship and submission of required materials.


2023 Environmental Scholars Program

2-Year Program



Sorvena Yoyo

Medical student

Bayview Hunter's Point Community Advocates

Sorvena is a second-year medical student at UCSF. She is originally from Boston, Massachusetts. She obtained her BS in Public Health from University of Massachusetts Amherst where she first became interested in addressing the social determinants of health and their impacts on the health and wellness of Black communities. Her interest was driven by her service trip to Haiti where her family is from, to which she learned of the numerous environmental pollutants poisoning her community. She hopes to continue to work on eradicating health disparities of Black individuals locally and eventually globally. What she is most excited about ESP is connecting and collaborating with community members. 

2022 Environmental Scholars Program

3-Year Program

Read about their projects here


Hannah El-Sabrout

Medical student

Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Unit

Hannah is a medical student at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program and a UCSF PRIME-US scholar. She grew up in San Diego, California and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Human Biology and Society, and a concentration in Medicine and Public Health. Her research interests include how climate change affects cardiovascular disease, water-/vector-borne illnesses, and nutrition as well as exploring if and how microplastics affect health. Hannah is excited to be a part of the ESP to gain more experience working on environmental health initiatives as well as working with community leaders to help eliminate the vast health disparities that exist within our society. In her free time, Hannah enjoys dancing, hiking, baking, crocheting, and doing yoga!

Valerie Kahkejian

Medical student

Bayview Hunter's Point Community Advocates

Valerie is a first-year medical student at UCSF. Her undergraduate studies in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology inspired a love for the natural world and sparked an interest in environmental issues. After graduation, she spent several years doing conservation work on public lands in Utah and doing research on coral bleaching in Hawai'i. These experiences helped to elucidate the intimate connections between human health/society and the environment. Through the ESP, she seeks to combine her interests in protecting the health of marginalized communities along with advocating for rapid decarbonization and environmental protection. Her interests include investigating the health impacts of climate change in poor and vulnerable communities and climate change fueled food insecurity. In her free time, she loves reading, photography, trail running, surfing, and backpacking.


2021 Environmental Scholars Program

3-Year Program

Read about their projects here


Lizbeth Cabrera

Nursing student

Bayview Hunter's Point Community Advocates

Lizbeth is a Family Health Nurse Practitioner candidate at UCSF’s School of Nursing. She received a B.S in Nutritional Science: Physiology and Metabolism from UC Berkeley. Liz has over six years of experience in reproductive health, community outreach and education. Her interests include learning more about how environmental exposures disproportionately impact unstably housed families in San Francisco and how to build effective screening tools for clinical application in identifying these exposures.

Anna Claire Fernández

Medical student

Wildfire Smoke  Exposure Community  Research 

AC is a first-year medical student at the UC Berkeley/UCSF Joint Medical Program. A native New Yorker, she graduated from Cornell University in 2017 and subsequently worked as a case manager and Spanish language interpreter at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immigrant Health & Cancer Disparities Service. Her research interests lie in the community health benefits associated with federal and local renewable energy transitions. She plans to focus her time with the Environmental Scholars Program examining the impact of fossil fuel extraction on reproductive health in rural communities. She will be working with faculty in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology this summer to investigate the relationship between wildfire smoke exposure and adverse birth outcomes. In her free time, she loves playing basketball and the ukulele, DJing, and fantasizing about adopting a dog.

Olivia Leventhal

Medical student

PSE Healthy Energy

Olivia is a first-year medical student who grew up in Venice, California and went to Swarthmore College where she studied neuroscience. She initially got interested in environmental health and climate change through her work in Tanzania as the founder of a nonprofit organization raising money for a public primary school. There she learned how poor water quality was negatively impacting the communities’ health and that the mitigation strategy of rainwater harvesting to provide clean water was negatively impacted by climate change as the community experienced increasing drought. She's excited to cultivate skills to address environmental determinants of health that are exacerbated by climate change.

Madeline Matthys

Medical student

PSE Healthy Energy

Project Description

Madeline is a first-year medical student at UCSF. She's from Santa Barbara, CA but traveled to North Carolina to attend Duke University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in French, and a minor in Chemistry. She (promptly) returned to California to work for 2 years as a patient advocate and clinical researcher at the UCSF Breast Care Center, where she studied personalized breast cancer screening regimens. Madeline's love of all things outdoors is what sparked her interest in environmental health, sustainability, and climate health research. When she's not bothering her friends about reducing their plastic usage, you can probably find her cycling up Mt. Tam, backpacking in Pt Reyes, or swimming in the bay!