Meet EAP Student Nova Tebbe

Nova Tebbe is a graduate student in EAP and the MPA-MPH dual degree. She works with Professor Jonathan Patz to inform climate policy in Wisconsin, the United States, and other countries and provide perspectives on the health and equity impacts of these policies.

What are you studying?

I am pursuing the Master of Public Affairs-Master of Public Health (MPA-MPH) dual degree, along with the Energy Analysis and Policy (EAP) certificate.

What drew you to UW–Madison for grad school?

The dual degree was very interesting to me. I knew I wanted to do public health and at the end of my undergraduate degree, I started to gain an interest in policy. Having the ability to do both of these degrees on a condensed timeline was attractive. In addition, I knew I wanted to go to a big school for graduate school since I went to such a small one for undergraduate (University of Idaho). Large schools offer a lot of connections and experience that I was looking for, and eventually got.

Can you give a brief introduction to the work you’ve done on nationally determined contributions in advance of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)?

My team, consisting of myself and two undergrads (Kasturi Thorat and Madison Xiong), with advice from Dr. Jonathan Patz and the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA), has been researching and writing country-specific policy briefs. These policy briefs are intended to outline climate policies that are rooted in health and equity. In addition, we hope these policy briefs influence countries who have not yet updated their Nationally Determined Commitment (NDCs) to make bold and ambitious NDCs that include goals for health. Thus far, we have done these policy briefs for the U.S., India, and South Africa. We are currently working on briefs for Trinidad & Tobago, South Korea, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

What part of this work are you most proud of?

I’m proud how my team and I were able to write the US policy brief, with a 2-week deadline, and be able to give the finished product to Gina McCarthy (White House National Climate Advisor in the Biden Administration) and John Kerry (Special Presidential Envoy for Climate in the Biden Administration) ahead of the US updated NDC. In the updated NDC, there was some mention of health co-benefits in electricity and transportation, so we like to think we helped push that narrative.

What aspect of COP26 are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to seeing what countries will talk about in relation to climate change and hopefully it includes conversations about health and equity. I would love to see health be at the forefront of any climate policy.

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be to be a Policy Director of some kind for a US Representative or Senator. This would enable me to make a real difference in terms of policy and hopefully be able to focus on climate change.