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Letty Brown

Letty Brown

UC San Diego - Spring 2007

Portrait of Letty Brown

Forest Scientist

SCS Global Services


Department of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley


Campuses:  UC San Diego; UC Berkeley

Term:  Spring 2007

Internship:   SAIC Consulting

UCCS Program:  Public Policy

Major:  Biology (UCSD)

Advanced Degree:  MA, Range Management; PhD, Environmental Science & Policy (UCB)

Hometown:  San Francisco

Current book:  “Ecosystems of California” by Erika Zavaleta and Harold Mooney


Letty Brown was not a typical UC Center student. When she enrolled in 2007, it had been eight years since she received an undergraduate degree in biology from UC San Diego. In fact, Letty had already earned a Master’s in Range Management and was in the final phase of completing a doctorate in Environmental Science, Management and Policy at UC Berkeley. She also didn’t have a typical internship; she had a job. Instead of working in a legislative office or for a nonprofit or agency, she continued her paid employment with SAIC, an environmental consulting firm working with California counties and the state Natural Resources Agency on a habitat conservation plan.

“My goal had always been to work as an ecologist at the junction of science and policy,” she says. “I got started down that path at UC Center because it helped me integrate my [scientific] interests with policy in Sacramento.”

Forestry had long been one of Letty’s key interests, and 2007 was a pivotal time in Sacramento thanks to then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s growing interest in environmental policy and global warming. Forest preservation and management were part of his administration’s approach to those issues, especially investigating ways to keep forest owners from leveling their trees.

“I credit my time at UCCS with helping familiarize me with the issues,” she says, “but also with encouraging me to get involved” not only through policy classes but also by attending workshops offered at state agencies such as the Air Resources Board. That exposure broadened Letty’s perspective on how policymaking could influence scientific outcomes.

Soon after finishing her term at UCCS and receiving her doctorate, Letty was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and spent two years in northern Brazil, mapping and helping designate conservation targets on 800,000 acres in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. She also mentored graduate students in forest research at the Universidade Federal Rio Grande do Norte.

The Fulbright complete, Letty took her research and management skills to URS, another environmental consulting firm, where she worked on forest-restoration, land-management and carbon-counting projects with clients such as UC San Francisco, the San Francisco PUC, the Coastal Conservancy and Monterey County. She stayed at URS (since bought by another firm) for five years before moving to her current job with SCS Global Services in 2015. In January 2018, she also began lecturing on California plant life in the Department of Integrated Biology at UC Berkeley. At SCS, she contributes to reviews of carbon projects, usually involving forests and often connecting conservation and restoration projects to California’s “carbon market.”

As one might expect, Letty and her family relax – outdoors. “We share a cabin near Truckee with another family,” she says, “and spend a lot of time hiking and in the mountains.”

“I’m on the right trajectory,” Letty says of her career to date. As she says about her ultimate goal, “My current work allows me to do just that.”

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