Amber Houghstow


In her role as director, Amber is responsible for Peace Rising’s overall success in meeting our mission. She provides support to all projects and bottom-lines maintaining Peace Rising’s general operations and finances. She is accountable to a number of board members in various aspects of her role. Amber Houghstow also founded Peace Rising, together with Thomas, which was inspired by her graduate research. Peace Rising’s methodology builds on thesis research conducted during her master’s in international relations at Harvard. Previously, Amber organized a program for tech entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka, conducted design research for the MIT D-Lab program, advised the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation in its development of a climate grants portfolio, and taught junior high math through Teach for America. Amber earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.

Jessie McIsaac

Research Fellow

Jessie McIsaac is a senior environmental science and biology major at Tufts University, where she specializes in the intersection of climate change, ecosystems, and local populations. Last semester, Jessie traveled to Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia where she examined the environmental and social impacts of climate change and studied the appropriate roles of the state, the private sector, social movements, scientists, and civil society in addressing this multifaceted global crisis. She has experience in researching international carbon sequestration policies, phenology, and global and local climate justice. Her interests research include conservation and climate change policy, ecosystems, and indigenous justice.

Bao Mai

Data Analysis Intern

Bao serves as Peace Rising’s Data Analysis Intern. He earned his Bachelor’s in Mechatronics Engineering from Vietnam and Associate’s Database Administrator degree from Bunker Hill Community College. His professional experience is in Python, SQL programming, and Microsoft Excel, Access advancing. He is now part of our mapping team where he uses QGIS to analyzing and modeling. He helps the team identify the regions experiencing the greatest impacts from climate change and mass migration.

Masha Vernik

Agroecology Project Coordinator

Masha is designing and implementing Peace Rising’s pilot project to support farmers in Ceará, Brazil adapt to climate change-induced droughts. Drawing on her research and experience in sustainable agriculture fields, she uses participatory development methods to center farmers’ knowledge and ensure that the geospatial analysis is useful to them. Masha loves food and wants to create a friendly environment for farmers to grow it regeneratively. She is interested in agroecology, indigenous knowledge, and seed sovereignty. She is also working on Common Roots, a short documentary profiling an urban farm in East Boston that builds community resilience. She holds a B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Biology from Boston University.

Previous Fellows

Nai Kalema

Nai Kalema focuses on the political economy of climate change and development, investigating critical issues surrounding climate change: international governance infrastructures, socio-political constraints, and global power relations. From Harvard University, Nai earned her Master’s degree concentrating on international relations and a graduate certificate on social justice. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from George Washington University.

Botong (Bo) Ma

Bo developed best practices for technical research, documentation, and data management; set research goals and helped launch global conflict mapping project. Bo studied at MIT, where she earned her Master’s degree in Computer Science and a dual Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics.

Celina Scott-Buechler

Former Deputy Director

As Former Deputy Director of Peace Rising, Celina Scott-Buechler coordinated institutional partnerships, research directions, media strategy, and staffing. She was also heavily involved in all stages of Peace Rising research. Drawing on her interdisciplinary background in the natural and social sciences, she aims to make research accessible and relevant to policymakers. Her experience in non-profit management helped her guide Peace Rising’s organizational structure. Celina is finishing up graduate studies in Atmospheric Science at Cornell University. She also holds a bachelor’s from Cornell Earth Systems Science & Environmental Justice through the College Scholars Honors Program.

Alan Diaz-Romero

Storytelling Project Coordinator

As co-coordinator of storytelling, Alan Diaz-Romero is responsible for organizing and facilitating interviews with people impacted by climate change induced violence with the goal of collecting and disseminating stories in the form of reports, articles, and audio stories. With his background in urban planning and international development, Alan plans to empower those most affected by climate change by amplifying their voices using Peace Rising’s platform. Alan holds a degree in Bachelors in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Alan also likes to hike, play board games, and look at old maps in his spare time.

Audrey Nelles

Storytelling Project Coordinator

As Coordinator of the Storytelling Project, Audrey is responsible for project development and logistics. She develops guidelines and materials for interviewing climate refugees and coordinates partnerships with migrant organizations. Drawing on her experience with refugee rights activism, she seeks to amplify the voices of those who are affected by climate-based conflict. She also works on the development of Peace Rising’s visual identity. Audrey is a Biology major at McGill University, where she is involved as a climate justice activist and as an organizer for the McGill fossil fuel divestment campaign.