meet the pritzker candidates: 1-5

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Meet the Pritzker candidates: 1-5

by Rebecca Ash

Last week UCLA announced the 20 inaugural candidates for the Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award. The award is the first to target environmental leaders under the age of 40 who are on the verge of making a groundbreaking change.

The candidates were nominated by a group of environmental leaders and, after evaluation, five finalists will be presented to a panel of judges. The candidates include a range of professions and academic fields—they are scientists, entrepreneurs, chefs, filmmakers, conservationists, activists and more.

Over the next two weeks we’ll introduce these up-and-coming environmental heroes in groups. Here are the first five (not ranked):


Danfun Dennis

Danfung Dennis

Danfung Dennis is a filmmaker and the creator of Condition One, a virtual reality company. He began his career in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war photographer, before moving to 2D and then 3D video. Going further, Dennis now uses virtual reality to give people realistic experiences to inspire action and social change. His work focuses on animal rights, food production, climate refugees, wildfires and climate change—a topic featured in Melting Ice, his most recent film. Dennis was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary Hell and Back Again and his photography has been featured in news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and Rolling Stone. (Nominated by Elise Pearlstein.)

meet the pritzker candidates: 1-5

Edward (Eddie) Game

Eddie Game is lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s Asia Pacific Region—the youngest-ever to take the position. He has worked in more than 15 countries, using technology and applied conservation techniques to tackle conservation problems. He also serves as editor-in-chief of the journal Conservation Letters, where he has worked to promote gender balance and diversity. In addition to co-authoring the book Conservation Planning: Informed Decisions for a Healthier Planet, Game has published more than 50 academic papers on topics ranging from coral reef resilience to rainforest acoustics. By combining research and action, Game aims to bridge the gap between hard science and nonprofit organizations. (Nominated by Mark Tercek.)

Laura Flessner

Laura Flessner

Laura Flessner is the geographic information systems (GIS) manager of the global oceans team at The Nature Conservancy. She develops mapping apps to promote conservation of coral reefs, oysters and open spaces. She was one of the main designers of the Coastal Defense App, which gives users an interactive experience on how natural habitats along coastlines can reduce erosion and protect the land. Flessner has also been at the forefront of creating engines for green infrastructure and educating everyone from elementary school teachers to congressional staff on how to use them. (Nominated by Dawn Wright.)

meet the pritzker candidates: 1-5

Ryan Flaherty

Ryan Flaherty is director of business partnerships at Sustainable Conservation, where he works on sustainability in production. Ryan has 15 years of experience in the United States and Latin America on projects in business strategy, supply chain management, sustainable agriculture, water stewardship and stakeholder engagement. His current projects in Modesto, California aim to decrease water pollution and methane emission from the agriculture industry. These projects have the potential to improve drinking water, reduce greenhouse gases and improve regulatory pathways in California. (Nominated by Cindy Starrett.)

meet the pritzker candidates: 1-5

Susana de Anda

Susana de Anda has spent a decade working for environmental justice and water rights. She co-founded the Community Water Center, where she is now co-director. Using organization, education and advocacy, she fights for every Californian to have access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water. Her efforts led to California being the first state to legislatively recognize water as a human right. On the public education front, de Anda works with Latino communities to empower leaders and facilitate gender equality. Next, she plans to focus on updating water infrastructure and treatment facilities. For her work, de Anda was recognized by former President Barack Obama as a White House Champion of Change for Climate Equity. (Nominated by Adán Ortega.)

TOP IMAGE: Susana de Anda. | Photo via