She uses data to solve challenging environmental issues

With her research, intergovernmental work and TED Talks, Angel Hsu is making a difference in climate change by combining science and policy.

Illustration reading
(Photo illustration by Adrian Garcia, UNC Creative)

In honor of Women’s History Month, The Well introduces readers to women working at Carolina who are leaving their Heel print on the University and beyond. Look for a new Women Making History feature each Thursday this month. Find previous stories here.

Why her work matters

Hsu is founder and director of the Data-Driven EnviroLab, an interdisciplinary research group that innovates and applies quantitative approaches to pressing environmental issues. Hsu’s research primarily focuses on the role that individuals, companies and private actors have on climate change. Her group received grants last month to investigate the nexus of urban heat, electric grid infrastructure and health equity and to assess how overseas infrastructure investments from China affect land use in Southeast Asia.

What people say about her

“Angel Hsu’s research strives to distill clear policy signals through an ever-growing expanse of messy environmental data. She connects the dots between climate science, policy and sustainability. Working between the push and pull of data science and public policy drives her to explore how new technologies, analytical techniques and communication strategies can improve governance and lead to better environmental outcomes — particularly in rapidly developing countries like China, where much of her research has focused.”

— from her TED Talks profile

Who she is

Hsu grew up in South Carolina with parents who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan. After spending a summer studying insect-plant interactions in the lowland tropical rain forests in Costa Rica — and realizing how threatened they were by climate change — she added a political science major to her biology degree at Wake Forest University. After completing her master’s degree in environmental policy at the University of Cambridge, she worked at the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington, D.C. She has a doctorate in environmental policy from Yale University. Now she is an assistant professor of public policy and a faculty member in the environment, ecology and energy department at Carolina. She made the most recent list of Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential Academics in Government.

Adapted from a story by Sasha Schroeder, UNC Global. Read the entire piece.