Student Awards, Student Research

2023 Hickcox Award

Every year it is our honor to choose an ENVS graduating senior who displays significant leadership, presence and service within the ENVS department and Emory community. The Hickcox Award is named in honor of ENVS distinguished Emeritus Professor (and Waffles King), C. Woodbridge Hickcox, or Woody as we know him. Every year it is a difficult decision to choose just ONE student, and this year it was impossible! It is an honor to announce that both Clare McCarthy and Jack Miklaucic have been awarded the 2023 Hickcox Award. The following reflection was a joint effort by both Clare and Jack, a little bit love letter to Emory and a reminder of how much work is left to be done!

By Clare McCarthy 23C & Jack Miklaucic 23C

From conferences to theses, from climate strikes to late-night strategizing meetings, these past few years have been quite eventful. Through the chaos of the Zoom world and endeavors like building a climate action campaign with little organizing experience, the ENVS Department has been a constant source of support. We are both so grateful to have been a part of this amazing department and cannot believe these four years are already over!

I (Clare) remember first meeting Jack before we even started classes our freshman year, as we both joined an orientation tour of campus sustainability features. During our sophomore year, we co-founded the Emory Climate Coalition (ECC), and have been “partners in crime” ever since! We are incredibly thankful that the Department has chosen both of us as this year’s Hickcox recipients–we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some of our favorite Emory memories have come from the ENVS Department. We had the privilege of representing Emory at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 27th Conference of the Parties in Egypt last November. The experience was even more incredible than either of us could have imagined, as we casually ran into Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore and listened in on conversations about climate reparations and emissions reductions with delegates from around the world. We even had the opportunity to delve into specific climate topics of interest by conducting interviews for Emory Climate Talks’ AmpliFIRE podcast. Jack interviewed advocates and energy experts about the importance of and logistics involved in a just transition to renewable energy sources. Clare interviewed representatives of grassroots organizations in the Global South about how their communities have suffered the public health impacts of climate change.

Since we founded ECC a little over two years ago, we have generated exciting change in the campus climate action landscape. Our efforts have united the Emory community during multiple climate strikes, convinced President Fenves to sign onto national and international climate commitments, and prompted the assembly of a Climate Action Task Force to write a new campus Climate Action Plan.

Despite these successes, there is still much work to do. As we’ve continued through our ECC activism, we have witnessed again and again the disconnect between Emory’s purported sustainability leadership and lack of climate action. In many ways, it feels as if our work has served to prevent catastrophe and call attention to sustainability shortcomings—rather than generating new initiatives and tangible progress.

Perhaps to the chagrin of some of the administrators that we have constantly bothered these past few years, ECC is here to stay. We are confident that we are leaving the organization in the hands of capable new leaders, and look forward to seeing how they will advance and expand upon the existing work.

It has been such an honor to take part in the ENVS community. We have loved being surrounded by peers who are genuinely passionate about leveraging their skills and talents to create positive change, and by faculty who go above and beyond to support students in those efforts. We have both had so many amazing courses at Emory, and benefited so much from the mentorship of faculty and staff who are so devoted to environmental science students. We would not be where are today without their support! As we move beyond our undergrad years, we will continue to draw inspiration and wisdom from our ENVS experiences.

Clare will be staying at Emory for another year to complete the BS/MPH program in Environmental Health at Rollins. She will be concentrate in climate change and health and hopes to work internationally after graduating from Rollins.

Jack will be attending the University of Pennsylvania Law School in the fall as a Levy Scholar. He plans to earn the University’s certificate in energy policy and stay engaged with climate activism and environmental justice work. He hopes to work for an environmental nonprofit after graduating from law school, with a particular desire to spearhead impactful litigation and policy that advances the fight for energy justice.