Former UI Student Marcelo Mena Joins a Virtual TED Conference to Discuss the Pandemic and Climate Change in Chile


Joseph Bolkcom and Nicole Welle | June 24, 2020

Marcelo Mena, a University of Iowa graduate and Chilean environmental science leader, appeared in a TED talk May 29 to give his perspective on the relationships between the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change in Chile.

Mena received his MS in 2003 and a PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa in 2007. During his time at UI, he helped organize the beginning of sustainability work on campus and hosted a music program on public radio each Sunday night.

“Marcelo was an amazing student and a great example of speaking up and leading by example,” said CGRER co-director and Mena’s PhD advisor, Greg Carmichael.

After graduating, he returned home to Chile as a faculty member and was recruited to join the Chilean government as the Minster of the Environment.  He then went on the work at the World Bank where he was an advisor to the CEO and Practice Manager, Climate Research Analytics, Climate Change Group.

He is currently serving as chair of the new environmental engineering department at Universidad Andres Bello Santiago, one of Chile’s most prestigious institutions and is considering running for president of Chile.

Iowa native James Hansen discusses climate change at TED Conference


In February, Iowa native and climate change expert, James Hansen, spoke at a TED Conference.

Hansen’s speech, entitled “Why I must speak out about climate change”, discussed both the science behind climate change and his frustrations in communicating climate change.

In 1981, Hansen published a paper predicting many of the effects of climate changes we are seeing today. During the ‘80’s Hansen testified to congress about the importance of recognizing climate change. After facing harsh criticism, Hansen backed away from public speaking for about 15 years and focused solely on research.

Beginning in 2006, Hansen renewed his public speaking efforts out of frustration for the lack of progress in addressing climate change.

Hansen was born in Denison, Iowa, and studied under James Van Allen at the University of Iowa.