Although Michele Romolini, Ph.D., and Alexander Matos ’23 have never met, they have a lot in common. They’re both tackling some of our biggest climate challenges, thanks to the support of Edison International, which has given more than $1.4 million to support various projects at LMU since 1960. Among them are environmental education programs within CURes (Center for Urban Resilience) of which Romolini is managing director, and funding for Edison STEM Scholarships within the Latino Alumni Association (LAA) and African American Alumni Association (AAAA). Matos is a LAA scholarship recipient studying environmental science.
One of CURes programs funded by Edison is the tree canopy project Romolini brought to LMU based on her 20 years of experience in the environmental field. “I knew trees provided shade and cooling, but when the research about the social, mental, and physical benefits emerged … you’re not just planting a tree for increased oxygen and reduced storm water runoff; planting a tree does so many amazing things for our community,” Romolini said.
As an early and multiple-time investor to the project, Edison funding allowed CURes to purchase county-level data that illustrates where trees are most needed in low-income communities. From there, Romolini and her undergraduate research students leverage this data to engage residents on the benefits of trees and prioritize optimal areas for new trees to be planted.
Similar to Romolini, Matos’ deep enthusiasm for protecting the environment stems from his education. “Since high school, I knew environmental science was my passion,” he said. “I used to watch YouTube videos related to nature and how we — humanity — were affecting it. As I’ve grown older, the passion has not diminished, but shifted, especially with the effects of climate change and global warming looming on the horizon, my love for environmental science has reprioritized into a sharp focus on sustainability.”
LMU has long been recognized for its commitment to environmental practices including having started the first campus-wide recycling program in the state (1993) and earning five LEED Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings, two of which are LEED Gold certified. Thus, it makes sense for LMU to be among Edison’s partners, helping create healthier communities by improving the environment.
“At Edison, we are committed to investing in our communities and the next generation of leaders; leaders who will confront the critical environmental challenges that California faces and help us build a better tomorrow,” said Alejandro Esparza, SCE principal manager of Corporate Philanthropy and Community Engagement.
For Matos, that means a future job in sustainability to help reduce emissions. For now, he’s grateful to be at LMU.
“The Edison STEM Scholarship through LAA has supported me so much throughout my time here on, and off campus, making my dream of going to a university to study environmental science a reality,” he said. “I think what excites me most about this field is that I am in a field where my actions can combat climate change—arguably one of the largest threats to humanity ever—that, to me, is very inspiring and motivating.”
To support LAA and AAAA Fellowships or the Center for Urban Resilience, visit here or Dan Montoya, executive director of major gifts, at 310.338.1796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.