Liliana Caughman, PhD Candidate at Portland State University

Liliana Caughman was born and raised in the college town of Claremont, California, the farthest east city in Los Angeles County. Growing up in urban and suburban sprawl, she spent many days cruising through the desert and hiking in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. She has always had an unquenchable appetite for knowledge, unhindered ambition, and relentless curiosity. Her aspiration to deeply understand the natural world led her to a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Throughout her career, Liliana has linked physics to real world problems, both environmental and social. Through a National Science Foundation (NSF) research fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), she was able to use atmospheric and climate physics to investigate drought in sub-Saharan Africa. At the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S), she was an educational manager and mentor for a program that empowered community college students to conduct scientific research at UC Berkeley. After graduating, Liliana began a career as a Wind Energy Analyst. She spent a year engineering wind farms for DNV GL, a global environmental consulting firm, and then realized that she wanted to further her education with a Master’s Degree.

Liliana earned her Masters of Environmental Studies at the Evergreen State College in 2017. During her time there, she worked for the Sustainability in Prisons Project as a program coordinator and graduate student researcher. Liliana also worked as a faculty member at Northwest Indian College on the Nisqually reservation, where she taught math and science courses for undergraduate students. Now, she is completing her PhD at Portland State University focusing on Earth, Environment, and Society; working with advisor Dr. Vivek Shandas.

At PSU, Liliana works as a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. There, she is focused on sustainable urban systems, just transitions, and resilience. She manages research partnerships with several bureaus in the City of Portland, and collaborates with researchers and practitioners from around the world.

With this unique background and horde of experience, Liliana brings excitement about the sciences into everything she does. She weaves interconnected and interdisciplinary material into her research and her teaching. Liliana believes all people are innately inquisitive and will utilize resources to learn about their environment and better their world — if only they are given the opportunity.



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