Meet our leadership team members who organized, created and led this platform and our national projects during our founding year 2019-2020!
Founder and Chair
Harleen Marwah, MD, MS
Pediatric Resident, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Harleen Marwah, MD MS is the Founding Chair of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future. Marwah was selected as one of the 2021 Grist 50 Fixers and earned the 2020 Health Care Without Harm Emerging Physician Leader Award in recognition of her work founding and leading Medical Students for a Sustainable Future.
Prior to medical school, Marwah earned her M.S. in Global Medicine and B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from the University of Southern California. She also collaborated with the United Nations on the Paris Climate Agreement, attending the COP20 in Lima, Peru and the COP21 in Paris, France. During medical school, she continued her active engagement at the intersection of health and climate change through research, curriculum reform, and advocacy.
Harleen recognizes the need for clinicians and medical students to drive solutions and advocate for communities. Further, she realizes how the formidable challenges that climate change poses can be intimidating for people to act on individually. She founded Medical Students for a Sustainable Future in 2019 to bring together medical students for a collaborative effort to act on climate. She is inspired by the work of this community, as medical students from around the world unite to work for a healthy future.
Ellen Townley, MS3
Creighton University School of Medicine
Ellen Townley is a third-year medical student at Creighton University. She is passionate about the intersection of climate change and social justice. As an undergraduate student at Creighton, she studied biology and sustainable energy and worked as an advocacy coordinator for the University’s Center for Service and Justice. As a medical student, she is energized by the collective actions of medical students across the country and hopeful that improvements in environmental sustainability will lead to more just health outcomes.
Sarah Schear, MD, MS
Pediatric Resident Physician, Children’s National Medical Center
Sarah is a pediatric resident physician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC and a graduate of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine and the UC Berkeley – UCSF Joint Medical Program.
Prior to medical school, Sarah completed her B.A. in Anthropology at Amherst College and a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship in North India. She also worked with a psychiatrist in rural Alabama running supportive programs for vulnerable youth and older adults, and with the ACLU of Southern California’s Reproductive Justice and Jails Projects. In medical school, she completed a Master’s thesis examining barriers and strategies for palliative care service expansion in India.
Sarah’s love for communities in India, Alabama and California on the front lines of climate change motivated her to join the fight for climate justice. She is passionate about supporting medical trainees’ collective participation in the climate movement. As a founding Advocacy Co-Chair of MS4SF, she coordinated the development of MS4SF’s Principles and advocacy strategy. She helped lead MS4SF’s Earth Day 2020 and Election 2020 campaigns. She is also co-Founder of Climate Health Now, a network of health professionals organizing for climate action in California, and a founding Co-Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 1 Committee on Climate Change and Health.
Communication and Partnerships Co-Chairs
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Genny is a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in the Class of 2023. She received her B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from Yale, where she completed her senior thesis research on the environmental justice implications of hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal practices. During her time in undergrad, Genny also interned with the Rachel Carson Council, a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, and was employed as a research assistant with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
As Medical Students for a Sustainable Future’s Co-Chair of Communications & Partnerships, Genny helped to create the MS4SF Chapters & Affiliates Program linking medical schools across the country; to develop a network of partnerships with professional organizations; and to grow MS4SF’s media presence. While at Penn, Genny has also served on the leadership boards of the medical school’s Healthcare Sustainability Group and of the university-wide group Climate Leaders at Penn. She was co-lead of Penn’s inaugural edition of the Planetary Health Report Card, a selected author in Wharton’s “Student Solutions to Climate Risk Management Challenges” project, and, after her first year, a summer research intern in clinically sustainable healthcare delivery at NYU.
Genny is passionate about raising awareness around climate/health impacts and solutions through writing, research, & advocacy. She was honored to be on the founding board of MS4SF and looks forward to continuing to collaborate with this inspiring group of people!
Swechya Banskota, MS2
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Swechya Banskota is a second-year medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She graduated from Oregon State University in 2017 with a degree in Biology. She is an executive co-chair of Alpert Medical School’s Environmental Coalition (ECo), and also a co-chair of Brown Nutrition Agriculture and Community Health (BrANCH). Passionate about the health of the planet, she has been trying to live an eco-friendly life since high school. Through her leadership role in ECo, she is taking part of a waste audit at a local ED and hopes to spread eco-consciousness amongst her peers and the medical community at Brown. She is also planning to lead a composting-education program, along with educating children about nutrition and growing their own food, at local elementary schools in Providence and surrounding cities through her role in BrANCH. Through the Medical Students for a Sustainable Future, she is excited about working with other like-minded future colleagues who share a passion for climate health justice to work on increasing collaboration among medical students around the country to reduce the burden of healthcare on the environment.
Partnerships Management Sub-Chair
Albany Medical College
Helena Randle is a first year medical student at Albany Medical College. After graduating from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, she worked in Boston doing breast cancer research and scribing in an infectious disease and wound clinic. Having witnessed the enormous amount of waste in the research and healthcare sectors, as well as the adverse health impacts of the climate crisis, she is motivated to help bring about positive change. She is excited to work with MS4SF to encourage conversations and action on climate, promote sustainability, and increase climate engagement in the healthcare sector.
Website Management Sub-Chair
University of Michigan Medical School
Casey dual-degree MD/MPH student at the University of Michigan. Prior to medical school, Casey earned his B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan. During medical school, he realized that climate change is the largest public health crisis of the 21st century and it will disproportionately affect marginalized communities who have contributed the least to causing it. This resulted in him becoming impassioned in becoming involved in mitigation of climate change and adaptation to minimize its impact. To this end, he has done a sustainability fellowship on municipalities equitably reaching net zero emissions, work on integrating climate health into his medical school’s operations, and received the Healthcare Without Harm Emerging Physician Leader Award to facilitate improving the care of heat illness in the Emergency Department. He hopes to be a voice in rallying the public to address climate change as the health and equity crisis that it is.
Climate-Smart Health Care Co-Chairs
Jack Inglis, MS4
University of Minnesota Medical School
Caylynn Yao, MS4
George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Jack Inglis is a fourth-year at the University of Minnesota medical school. He attended undergrad at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where he received a degree in biology and fostered an interest in environmentalism as he conducted various ecological and agricultural research projects. During his gap year, he worked at a biotech company as a research associate to help develop a handheld heavy-metal detector for use in ecological research. In medical school, he has served for three years as co-chair for Health Students for a Healthy Climate, an interdisciplinary student group focused on preparing health professionals to become effective environmental advocates. He is also a part of a task force focused on integrating environmental health into the medical school curriculum. In particular, Jack is interested in how healthcare institutions can go about reducing their own carbon footprint and improving resilience while saving money and bettering patient care.
Caylynn Yao is a fourth-year medical student at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. She also earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and music from the George Washington University. Caylynn’s interest in the environment, sustainability, and health began when she first adopted a plant-based diet, recognising the significance of shifting diets for not only cardiovascular health but also for a sustainable future amidst a growing demand for resource-intensive foods. During medical school, she became inspired by the work of her peers and clinicians in environmental research, curriculum reform, and advocacy. She participated in Emory University’s “Climate Crisis and Clinical Medicine” virtual course, where she developed further interest in healthcare institutions’ role in waste reduction, particularly in the operating rooms and peri-operative arena. Caylynn is also curious about renewable energy technology, biophilic design, climate justice, and agriculture as it relates to health. She enjoys outdoor sports, gardening, and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, beach cleanup and hiking trail preservation organizations on the side. Caylynn enthusiastically embraces her leadership role in MS4SF and is eager to take collective action as medical professionals for a healthier future for her patients globally.
Natasha Sood, MPH
Pennsylvania State College of Medicine
Sarah Hsu, MS4
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Natasha Sood is a medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. She is a Founding Leader of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future and served as the 2021 Executive Chair of MS4SF. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Michigan in Environmental Science and Biology. She then earned her Master of Public Health from Columbia University in Environmental Health Science with a specialization in Climate Change and Health. She focuses her research and advocacy efforts on climate-health curriculum reform, climate-smart healthcare, and sustainable systems. She served as the 2019 Co-Chair of the Sustainability Council at Penn State Medical Center, and founded “Environmental Health in Medicine,” a student group aimed at addressing gaps in sustainability and education in climate change and health at Penn State. Most recently she was the recipient of the HCWH 2020 Emerging Physician Leader Award and is a Fellow at the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics. She is continually inspired by her peers to advocate for a just, healthy, and sustainable future.
Sarah Hsu is a fourth year medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Motivated by the lack of medical curriculum about the health risks and disparities exacerbated by climate change, she founded Alpert Medical School’s Environmental Coalition in 2019, and designed the first 10-week pre-clerkship elective on “Climate Change and Health” for students at Brown. Passionate about climate communication, she is also the co-host of the new podcast “Code Green: The Climate Smart Health Professional” and
She received her degree in Sociology from Brown in 2017 and is working on a concurrent Master’s in Population Medicine. As part of her master’s thesis, she conducted and published the first ever waste audit of an U.S. Emergency Department. She was awarded the Stephanie Davis Waste Reduction and Pollution Prevention Award at CleanMed in 2019. She has spoken nationally on climate and health at the American Academy of Pediatricians, Student National Medical Association, and CleanMed. Her writing has been featured in Grist, World War Zero, Doximity, In-Training, and KevinMD. and is a 2021 Switzer Fellow.
Carol Fonseca, MD, MS
Pediatric Resident Physician at Ascension St John Children’s Hospital
Emily Gentile, MS3
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Carol is a pediatric resident physician at Ascension St John in Michigan. She was one of the founding members of MS4SF, serving as a research co-chair. She helped organize the journal club in collaboration with Healthcare Without Harm and started a list of articles related to the intersections between climate change and health/healthcare. She also started an upcycling project that reuses blue wraps from the OR to make sleeping bags for the homeless population in Detroit, Michigan.
Prior to medical school, Carol received her BS in Plant Biology from University of California, Davis and her MS in Evolution & Ecology from California State University, Sacramento. She was a science and math teacher in Davis, CA for 5 years before starting medical school. As a science teacher, she received a grant from the US Fish &Wildlife Service to build a native habitat on the school grounds. Carol is very happy and thankful to be able to combine her passions for the environment and medicine.
Emily Gentile is a third year medical student in the Global and Urban Health Pathways at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Emily first became interested in the interconnections between the environment and health during her coursework as an undergraduate public health major at the George Washington University, and this passion has continued to grow throughout her first two years in medical school. At UMass Med, Emily helped to found “UMMS Students for Climate Action,” a student group focused on education, advocacy, research, and service related to all things climate and medicine, and also assisted with student programming during this year’s virtual Earth Week celebration. She is immensely excited to be joining MS4SF as a research co-chair, and looks forward to connecting with students from across the country who share similar values.
Interest Group Liaisons
Zachary Burns, DO, MPH
Brown Family Medicine Residency
Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Zach Burns trains at the Brown Family Medicine Residency. A plant-based nutrition advocate, he practices medicine to help improve the lives of human and non-human beings. Zach founded the organization Plant-based Healthcare in medical school at Nova Southeastern University to engage classmates in vegucation and advocacy around plant-based eating patterns. His reach extends nationally via Moving Medicine Forward, a non-profit dedicated to cultivating a generation of nutritionally literate physicians who are prepared to tackle our chronic disease burden. He pursued similar work on the Development team with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Trainees. Zach was grateful for Harleen’s support in establishing the Plant-based Health Liaison position for MS4SF to highlight the urgency in transitioning to a plant-based global food system both for climate change mitigation and to combat deforestation, antibiotic resistance, and zoonotic infectious disease. He considers the problem of 200 million land animals killed per day within the purview of physicians striving to “do no harm.” Zach supports universal healthcare as an adjunct to improved nutrition policy and in medical school helped launch a chapter of Students for a National Health Program. His dream career includes family medicine at a community health center with designated time to engage in various facets of the movement to eradicate factory farming. He swears he is more fun in person and enjoys soccer and jazz piano.
Kelly Williamson is a second-year medical student at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami, FL. Having spent her life living in Florida she has personally experienced how climate change has affected our oceans from living through extreme weather events to coastal flooding and rising sea temperatures. In recognizing the boundlessness of water, Kelly is interested in how water unites the health of our human family with all creation.
Planetary Health Report Card Lead
Karly Hampshire, MS4
University of California San Francisco
Karly Hampshire is a fourth year medical student at the University of California San Francisco planning on applying into internal medicine residency. She is the founder and current co-director of the Planetary Health Report Card initiative and recently completed a fellowship with the University of California Carbon Neutrality Initiative. Building on her interests in medical education and climate health, she will be taking a gap year beginning this summer to pursue a research project investigating the infectious disease outcomes associated with extreme weather events in people with HIV, further develop the PHRC initiative, help launch the new UCSF Center for Climate, Health, and Equity, and work on climate curriculum development efforts at UCSF. In her spare time, she enjoys long meandering walks with no destination, park days, and recently has developed a passion for pottery. She sees climate solutions as opportunities to build a healthier, more equitable world and feels grateful to work with such an incredible community of like-minded people.