Founding Team

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
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Harleen is a third-year medical student at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Prior to medical school, Harleen 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. She has continued her active engagement at the intersection of health and climate change during medical school 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 has been inspired by the rapid growth of the group, as medical students from around the country unite to work for a healthy future.

Twitter: @theregoesharmar

Advocacy Co-Chairs

Ellen Townley
Creighton University School of Medicine

Ellen Townley is a first-year medical student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. 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, MS
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine

Sarah is a fourth year medical student at the UCSF School of Medicine, and a graduate of the UC Berkeley – UCSF Joint Medical Program. Prior to medical school, she studied Anthropology at Amherst College, lived in North India for two years, and worked with a psychiatrist in rural Alabama running supportive programs for youth and older adults, and with the ACLU of Southern California’s Reproductive Justice and Jails Projects. Her love for communities in India,  Alabama and California on the front lines of climate change motivates her advocacy work. She is co-Founder of Climate Health Now, a network of health professionals organizing for climate action in California, and Co-Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 1 Task Force on Climate Change. She is so excited to connect with medical students across the country and to support our collective participation in the climate movement!

Twitter: @sarahschear

Communication and Partnerships Co-Chairs

Genevieve Silva
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Genny is a first-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. 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 served as an environmental advocacy intern with the Rachel Carson Council and as a contributor to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. She conducted clinical outcomes and policy research for two years prior to matriculating at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is currently on the leadership committee of the medical school’s Healthcare Sustainability Group and on the board of Climate Leaders at Penn, a university-wide organization. Genny is passionate about raising awareness among medical educators, students, and practicing physicians about the connections between climate change and health and is excited to collaborate with other medical students through MS4SF.

Swechya Banskota
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Swechya Banskota is a first-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 has co-led a waste audit at a local ED and hopes to spread eco-consciousness amongst her peers and the medical community at Brown. She has been active in advocacy effors, and has testified at the Rhode Island State House in support of climate change bills several times. Through the Medical Students for a Sustainable Future, she is excited about collaborating with other like-minded future colleagues who share a passion for climate health justice to reduce the burden of healthcare on the environment.

Partnerships Management Sub-Chair

Helena Randle
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

Casey Patnode
University of Michigan Medical School

Casey is a fourth-year medical student and dual-degree M.P.H. student at the University of Michigan. Prior to medical school, Casey earned his B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan and went on to fundraise for Doctors Without Borders before matriculating and is passionate about providing care to those who need it most. During medical school, he became convinced that climate change will be the largest public health crisis humanity will face if left unchecked, 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 its effects on health. To this end, he is working through the Dow Sustainability Fellowship on how to make municipalities in Michigan go net zero for carbon emissions and will be beginning his M.P.H. in Environmental Health Promotion and Policy in the Fall of 2020. He hopes to be a voice in rallying the public to address carbon emissions and protect the health of all and is excited to be working with Medical Students for a Sustainable Future to reach that goal.

Climate-Smart Health Care Co-Chairs

Jack Inglis
University of Minnesota Medical School

Caylynn Yao
George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Jack Inglis is a third-year at the University of Minnesota medical school. He attended undergrad at St. Olaf College, 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. In particular, Jack is interested in how healthcare institutions can go about reducing their own carbon footprint while saving money and improving 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.

Curriculum Co-Chairs

Natasha Sood, MPH
Pennsylvania State College of Medicine

 Sarah Hsu
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Natasha Sood is a third-year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Michigan in Environmental Science and Biology. She then received 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 is the 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. She recognizes the urgent need for health professionals to address the health impacts of climate change as we are facing the challenge of the century. Natasha is currently the Co-Curriculum Chair of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future, and she enjoys working with her peers and community members as a climate-health advocate within her institution and community. 

Twitter: @natasha_sood    

Instagram: @notrashtalk

Sarah Hsu is a second year medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. 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 is working on assessing the environmental impact of Emergency Department waste at Mass General Hospital through waste auditing. She is the co-founder of Alpert Medical School’s Environmental Coalition, and created AMS’s first 10-week pre-clerkship elective on “Climate Change and Health”  Her passions include composting and talking about sustainable menstrual health (aka waste-free periods)!

Twitter handle: @SarahHsu28

Research Co-Chairs

Carol Fonseca
American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine

Emily Gentile
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Carolina Fonseca has a BS in Plant Biology from UC Davis & an MS in Ecology from Sacramento State. She worked in research & was a science teacher for 5 years before starting medical school. As a teacher she received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to construct a wildlife habitat at the school. She is passionate about the environment and medicine – so being able to work on the intersection between the two is a dream come true. During her free time, Carol likes to spend quality time with her husband & two kids. 

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

Plant-Based Health

Zachary Burns
Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Ocean Health

Kelly Williamson
Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

Zach Burns is a 3rd-year DO/MPH student at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.  A plant-based nutrition advocate, he attends medical school to help improve the lives of human and non-human beings.  Zach founded the local organization Plant-based Healthcare to engage classmates in clinical nutrition. His reach extends nationally through Moving Medicine Forward, a non-profit dedicated to building a generation of nutritionally literate physicians who are prepared to tackle our chronic disease burden.  Zach is now enthusiastically assisting MS4SF’s efforts in connecting the dots between diet and climate change.

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.

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