Climate Psychology and Action Lab

We take seriously the prospect of climate breakdown and a disruption of organized human existence in our lifetimes. The IPCC 2021 report estimated that on the current high emissions pathway we are likely to experience global heating of 2.4 C above preindustrial levels in the 2041 to 2060 timeframe, and 4.4 C in the 2081 to 2100 timeframe. One IPCC lead author declared this “beyond human physiology”.

Our lab is connected with the Green New Deal at UCSD (a grassroots climate justice and action movement) and also with ElectrifyUC (a wider 10 campus grouping).

Our research is concerned with sociobehavioral approaches to get the policy support to dramatically reduce emissions, by leaving fossil fuels in the ground, shifting to renewable energy, confronting extractivism and reducing consumption. We are currently interested in two main themes:

From Skepticism to Belief. Skepticism comes in different flavors. While few US adults are skeptical about global heating, about 43% still doubt it is human-caused. Of those who DO accept anthropogenic global heating, many remain skeptical about the risks/impacts. And of those who accept both anthropogenic cause and risk/impacts, many remain skeptical about the prospects for a response – be it personal, collective, national or international. We are interested in research studies that aim to better understand how to accelerate shifts in these beliefs.

From Belief to Collective Action. Our analysis is that institutions and political systems, left to their typical devices, are simply incapable of stopping with fossil energy and fossil finance: they will need to be pushed from below by grassroots pressure at the local, state and national levels. Yet the grassroots collective action movement is tiny. We are interested in research that aims to better understand how to grow it.

Anna Castiglione


Anna received a MA from UCSD in psychology, where she was a recipient of the Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Endowed Fellowship. She is currently doing a Masters degree in Climate Physics in Trento Italy.

Rian Drexler

Graduate Student

Rian graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and Creative-Writing from UW-Eau Claire where she worked on how people’s ideological biases can override their ability to interpret data correctly. Rian is interested in enhancing the public’s understanding of science and propelling that understanding into real-life responses such as climate action.

Megan Elbel

Graduate Student

Megan graduated with Honors from University of Nebraska Lincoln with a Major in Psychology, and Minors in Political Science and National Security Studies. Her research explored how an individual’s political ideology related to the category and depth of the political information they pursued. She plans to study the intersection of psychology and political action as it relates to the climate movement.

Pauline Brouër

Visiting International Masters Student

Pauline is an international student from Münster, Germany where she is enrolled in the M.Sc. Clinical Psychology program. She holds a German Government (DAAD) scholarship to study Psychology at UCSD for the upcoming year, where she is interested in research examining climate anxiety.


Ella Miles-Urdan

Undergraduate Student
Ella is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Public Law. She is a member of the UCSD Green New Deal climate justice movement.

Adam Aron


Adam is a Professor in the UCSD Psychology Department. He spent 20 years doing neuroscience and recently switched his focus to try to prevent climate and ecological breakdown. Google Scholar.

Megan Phelps

Staff Research Assistant

Megan received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Management from UC Davis, where she graduated with honors as a Regents Scholar. Apart from her work in this lab she is also working with youth climate activists at SanDiego350, a local climate justice nonprofit.

Claire Levesque

Master’s student

Claire is in the Climate Science and Policy program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD. She graduated from Rhodes College (Memphis, TN) with a B.S. in Biology and developed an interest in communicating scientific research. She interned with the House Science Committee and wrote for Citizens Climate Lobby. She is interested in communicating climate science and policy and evolving climate action to incorporate both policymakers and the public.

Tajairi Brown-Neuson

Undergraduate Student
Tajairi is majoring in English with a minor in climate change studies, and is temporarily interning with a US Senator in DC.

Cameron Brick

Assistant Professor
Cameron is at the University of Amsterdam focusing on the climate crisis.

The Ende Gelände group (German saying for “here and no further”; literally “end terrain” or “end of terrain”) conducts civil disobedience protests against massive coal mines in Germany. Here they have stopped a digger in 2017.