Alumnus awarded Fulbright grant to study forest management policies

Both New Zealand and California have taken bold first steps to address global climate change, but their approaches are literally a world apart, says Anton Chiono ’06.

With the support of a Fulbright grant, Chiono hopes to bridge this divide.

“The great distance has challenged the ability of the two programs to work together and learn from one another in tackling this shared dilemma,” he says. “I hope that this opportunity, in some small way, will help close that distance.”

Combating climate change

Each year the Fulbright program allows Americans to teach English, conduct research or complete graduate work in more than 150 countries.

Chiono’s Fulbright grant is worth about $30,000 and will cover travel, research and living expenses in New Zealand for 10 months. The grant will enable Chiono to work at the Climate Change Research Institute, where he will compare U.S. and New Zealand forest management policies.

As a low-cost alternative for reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, Chiono says that forest management can be an attractive option for policymakers grappling with global climate change.

“New Zealand and California are unique in that they are the first to include forests in a comprehensive, economy-wide climate program. Interestingly, however, each has taken a different approach to doing so,” he says.

In New Zealand, Chiono will analyze the performance and cost-effectiveness of New Zealand and California’s approaches to addressing global climate change.

His interest in the topic began as a student at Willamette University, where he was introduced to environmental science and policy training. More importantly, though, Chiono says Willamette taught him how to learn.

“The ability to think critically, and to assimilate new information, are skills that are invaluable throughout a lifetime,” he says. “It is in this way that Willamette has best prepared me for this opportunity—and many yet to come.”

Going the distance

While at Willamette, Chiono majored in environmental science and minored in politics. He was named a Udall Scholar in 2005, and he was a finalist for the national Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

On campus, he was a research assistant, tutor and teaching assistant in the biology department, a member of the varsity baseball team and a co-founder of the Rod & Reel Club.

Since completing graduate school at Yale University in 2008, Chiono has worked as a policy analyst with the Pacific Forest Trust in San Francisco. His work has also taken him to Washington, D.C., where he advocates for climate policy and forest conservation at the federal level.

While pursuing his passion for forest management policy, Chino plans to take advantage of this unique opportunity to explore New Zealand.

“I am thrilled at the chance to immerse myself in a new country and culture, and I look forward to an occasional opportunity to break up my policy research in pursuit of brown trout on a bamboo fly rod,” he says.

The Fulbright program aims to foster mutual understanding among nations through education and cultural exchanges. In the past decade, 26 Willamette students and graduates have been awarded Fulbright grants.

For more information about the Fulbright program and other national scholarships, go to the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards.