The University of Michigan offers a unique program in Applied Climate studies, which allows students, alumni and even program partners to work together to engineer solutions that address climate-related issues. Alumni who earn this degree at U-M Climate & Space often secure work in meaningful professions that span many disciplines.
After earning her Master of Engineering degree in Applied Climate at the University of Michigan, Lauren Navarro Crane now works as an Analyst on an Insurance-Linked Securities team for Neuberger Berman in New York City. The recent alumna received her BSE Climate and Meteorology in 2022 and her MEng in Applied Climate in 2023, studying at the U-M Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering (CLaSP).
We reached out to Lauren, asking her to describe her experience in the master’s program and how it helped her get where she is today. Read on!
Q: How did the University of Michigan, our department, or our program prepare you for your career start?
A: ”I work under another CLaSP alum, Cedric Drui, that Professor Ricky Rood put me in touch with after I graduated. Until that introduction, I was struggling to find a job that was a happy medium between technical research and policy, as I wanted to continue using both my programming and statistics skills learned in CLaSP as well as my intrapersonal skills curated for the rest of my life at the University of Michigan. Once I met with Cedric and learned about the world of reinsurance, I felt like I had found exactly the balance that I was looking for.”
Q: Why do you think studying climate and space offers value for what you do now?
A: “Now, I am responsible for using climate and weather models to inform the purchase of insurance-linked securities that transfer natural disaster risk from insurance companies to capital markets, global disaster-relief capacity. The exposure that I got to climate and weather modeling throughout my time in CLaSP is integral to the work I do now in being able to understand and operate the models I use at work. Additionally, the knowledge I gained about meteorology and climate allow me to better understand the development of natural disasters on short and long time scales, which I integrate into the recommendations I make to my team about where and how much risk we can take on.”
Q: What skills or knowledge did you learn throughout the program that you found most useful in your career, thus far?
A: “The most useful skills to my day-to-day work have been the extensive use of programming across different languages and the ability to translate scientific information to meet different audience’s needs. I use python and R daily, which I had a strong basis in thanks to CLaSP, and I am often responsible for explaining disaster parameters and development to people with little climate background, which we practiced a lot through different reports and projects.”
Q: How did you decide to pursue the line of work or type of engineering you’re currently working in?
A: “I decided to pursue this area of work, because I felt like there was so much to learn as far as reinsurance, economics, natural disasters, etc., and opportunities to hone my programming skills further. It also was a unique area of sustainability that I’d had very little exposure to, and I was eager to understand how it fit into broader climate adaptation.”
Q: What is one of the greatest benefits, opportunities or challenges that presented itself to you while pursuing an Applied Climate MEng?
A: “I think one of the greatest opportunities presented was the ability to curate your degree to fit your needs and interests. Bringing my climate background into a wide variety of classes that touched on policy, business, technology, energy, and more revealed how climate impacts everything and is impacted by everything, and thus why we need every sector’s participation to attain solutions.”
Q: What gives you the most gratification with your current work?
A: “Being on such a unique team with a mixture of meteorology, insurance, climate, and finance backgrounds gives me a lens into how people from across different industries can contribute to climate solutions by working together. I see reinsurance as a creative solution that can advance both sustainability and the economy, and it gives me hope that more solutions like it can inspire climate-forward decisions in every sector.”
Q: As you look to the future, what career or professional goals might you have in mind?
A: “I see myself continuing in my current team/industry, and hopefully within that, contributing to solutions that increase disaster-relief capacity in under-insured regions of the world, which often face the most severe natural disaster impacts.”
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add about the program, now that you are a graduate and working professionally?
A: “I think CLaSP offers students the ability to bring climate considerations into any industry they may end up in through the building of a systems way-of-thinking and by showing us how no person or industry is immune to climate impacts. I would encourage current students to not limit themselves to only classic climate science jobs, but rather to bring their knowledge of climate science into unexpected industries, which are often those that need reform the most. We need someone speaking up for the climate in every company, in every sector, all over the world!”
“Thanks for the chance to share my experience and hopefully provide yet another unique career path that is an option after CLaSP.”