blockchain for sustainable solutions conference

How can we design blockchain products and solutions that address urgent environmental and social challenges?


Join us on Friday, March 2nd 8:00am - 14:30pm at Burke Auditorium, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for an all-student-initiated "Blockchain for Sustainable Solutions" conference that brings together students and blockchain innovators from corporate, academic, startup and non-profit organizations. At the event, we will explore how the technology can be harnessed to address issues like climate change, deforestation, and humanitarian crises. Speakers will discuss emerging applications for blockchain that range from energy and water trading, food and fashion supply chain transparency to voting and conservation finance.

Location: Burke Auditorium | Kroon Hall, 3rd floor | 195 Prospect St.

Time: Friday, March 2nd,  8.00am - 14:30pm

Breakfast starts at 8.00 AM. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

The conference will be broadcasted live from YouTube as of 9am

Keep up to date with our conference by following us on facebook.




SHORT program



9:00 - 9:40 am - OPENING REMARKS

9:45 - 10:40 am -  Panel I: ENERGY & WATER

10:45 - 11:45 am - Panel II: SUPPLY CHAINS

11:45 - 12:00 pm - COFFEE BREAK

12:00 - 13.00 pm - Panel III: GOVERNANCE

13.00 - 13.10 pm - Closing Remarks: Next Steps at Yale & Beyond

13.10 pm - 14.30 pm - LUNCH & NETWORKING



Welcome - Elle Brunsdale and Victoria Shvydchenko, Business & Environment Club-Student Interest Group, Conference Co-Chairs

Beyond Bitcoin - Robert Shiller, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Yale University

Blockchain for Good - Mercina Tillemann-Dick, Global Blockchain Business Council

Blockchain Basics - Martin Wainstein, Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY)


Elle Brunsdale, Yale MBA-MEM Candidate

Elle Brunsdale is a joint-degree candidate at the Yale School of Management (SOM) and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES). She is also a graduate of Yale College (Hopper ’15) where she studied economics and environmental studies and competed as a heptathlete on the Varsity Track and Field Team. Elle is passionate about leveraging innovation in capital markets and technology to advance ecologically sustainable, community-based solutions that address climate change, water scarcity, and other environmental challenges. This summer, Elle worked on the water team at Encourage Capital, an impact investing firm using innovative financing mechanisms to alleviate a range of environmental and social problems. Prior to graduate school, she worked for big data technology start-up that was using natural language processing and machine learning to predict public policy (FiscalNote). Elle is a member of the research team at Data Driven Yale and a Fellow with the John Kerry Initiative. She hails from Colorado and loves fly-fishing. She is an initiator and organizer of the “Blockchain for Sustainable Solutions” Conference.


Viktoriia Shvydchenko, Yale MEM Candidate

Viktoriia Shvydchenko is a first year Master of Environmental Management student at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies with a background in diplomacy and a versatile experience in stakeholder engagement, lobbying and marketing. Her passion and the current professional focus at Yale is sustainability and innovations in supply chains, in particular, in the fashion industry. Viktoriia holds a BA in International Relations and is a UGRAD (U.S. Department of State-sponsored one year exchange program) alumna. Prior to Yale, she co-founded the “Ukrainian Youth Delegate to the United Nations” Program and was appointed by the Ukrainian government to represent youth interests at the United Nations in New York. She is an initiator and organizer of “Blockchain for Sustainable Solutions” conference aimed at raising awareness on how this technology can be used as a tool for transparency in supply chains.

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Robert J. Schiller, Professor of Economics, Yale University

Robert J. Shiller is Sterling Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, and Professor of Finance and Fellow at the International Center for Finance, Yale School of Management. He received his B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1967 and his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972. He has written on financial markets, financial innovation, behavioral economics, macroeconomics, real estate, statistical methods, and on public attitudes, opinions, and moral judgments regarding markets.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences jointly with Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen in 2013.


Mercina Tillemann-Dick, Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC)

Mercina Tillemann-Dick currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC). Experienced in strategic planning and communications, she has spent her career translating complex ideas for broad audiences in the public and private sectors. Tillemann-Dick has advised state and national governments on issues involving public health and youth. Whether crafting pandemic plans for the City of Houston or initiating paradigm-shifting public health legislation, Tillemann-Dick is used to building things from the ground up. While working with Janssen’s Global Public Health Group, she drafted congressional testimony, authored publications and spearheaded multiple public information initiatives. She has worked in the offices of the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and for the Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress. In 2013, Tillemann-Dick co-founded A Curated Dialogue, a consultancy dedicated to sharing and shaping ideas through precise and approachable media. She has a degree in Bioethics, Political Science and Law from Yale University.

Martin Wainstein. Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale

Martin is the 2018 Open Innovation Fellow at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, and research associate at the Yale department of Electrical Engineering. He is an advisor and collaborator at the Digital Currency Initiative of the MIT Media Lab. Martin did his PhD at the Australian-German Climate & Energy College in the University of Melbourne, Australia and holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Southern California where he focused on Geo and Astrobiology. Thinking holistically about big picture sustainability and translating this into innovative entrepreneurial action is what he enjoys the most. Originally from Argentina, he developed social enterprises that provide products and services for the low-carbon transition. As an entrepreneur, Martin has developed projects in renewable energies for the built environment, biofuel projects for large agriculture farms, forest conservation initiatives, retail stores on wellness living, marketing and corporate social responsibility campaigns for multinationals and established a network of sustainable architecture to engage in social innovation.

9:45-10:40 AM - PANEL I: energy panel

Moderator: Martin E. Wainstein

This panel will discuss both generic use-cases and specific applications of blockchain in the energy and water utility sectors. Panelists will debate how blockchain can enable new business models, as well as disrupt established actors. Current challenges and future visions for decentralizing natural resource management will be shared with the audience.

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Doug Miller - Rocky Mountain Institute, Team Member at Energy Web Foundation (EWF)

Doug Miller is an environmental and behavioral economist with over 5 years of experience developing clean energy market solutions and providing related advisory support for diverse industry leaders. At Energy Web Foundation (EWF), Doug is responsible for managing the development of EWF's "Origin" application and engaging key market actors around its global deployment. In his previous role at Rocky Mountain Institute, he co-founded the Residential Energy+ initiative—for which he created solutions for real estate, home performance, and media professionals to motivate, simplify, and finance homeowner investments in energy upgrades—and developed actionable resources for commercial building investors and city leadership to scale clean energy investments. Doug received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MSc from Imperial College London with top academic honors.

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Christian Bilcheck - Avangrid Networks, VP Smart Grids Innovation

Christian Bilcheck is VP for Avangrid Networks Smart Grids Innovation and Planning, leading efforts across AVANGRID operating companies in Connecticut, New York and Maine that embrace and advance emerging smart grid strategies, technologies and capabilities through pilots and demonstration projects that better integrate distributed energy resources and improve the customer experience.  Christian is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Connecticut and has over 30 years of electric utility transmission and distribution operations, maintenance and planning experience.  He holds a Bachelor’s of Electrical Engineering Degree from Fairfield University and a Master’s of Business Administration Degree from New York University Stern School of Business. Christian lives in Milford, Connecticut with his wife, Jill, and three children, Nicholas, Zachary and Katerina.


CR Rogers - Aqua rights, Founder & CEO

Has spent the past 20 years as an entrepreneur during which he founded two companies in unrelated industries. Both businesses achieved over a million dollars in revenue each. Previously served 10 years in the world of finance with a focus in global payment technologies at JCB Co. LTD and First Data Corporation.

10:45-11:40 AM - panel II: supply chains

Moderator: Viktoriia Shvydchenko

The panel will focus on a diverse range of blockchain application in supply chains, from food to fashion. Speakers will discuss the supply chains issues that blockchain can efficiently solve, successful case studies, and the challenges related to transitioning to a new technology, its mass adoption and regulatory limitations.

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Martine Jarlgaard, UK-based fashion designer
Upon graduation from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Martine Jarlgaard was hired to work with Vivienne Westwood in London, where she headed the Vivienne Westwood Red Label. Following this Jarlgaard worked with All Saints and as Head of Diesel Female Apparel in Italy before returning to London to launch; Martine Jarlgaard London.
Jarlgaard works in the intersection of technology, business, fashion and art. Her drive towards positive change is complimented by her passion for sustainability and technology’s potential to change human behaviour and to disrupt the very core of the fashion industry.
At London Fashion Week in 2016 Martine Jarlgaard did the world's first Mixed Reality fashion show. This was a collaboration with FIA, DoubleMe, Ravensbourne University and W Hotel London. In 2017 Jarlgaard presented the first Blockchain-powered supply chain transparency fashion pilot at Copenhagen Fashion Summit in collaboration with Provenance, A Transparent Company and FIA, where Jarlgaard had been invited as one of ten innovative companies to present the latest and most groundbreaking solutions to solve the fashion industry’s most urgent sustainability issues. In 2018 Jarlgaard showed her new Extended Reality experience and installation MEET YOURSELF at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.
Forbes — “As a designer, her work is heavily rooted in sustainability. She looks to technology as playing a significant role in helping to solve some of the industry's biggest challenges.”

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Leandros Tassiulas - John C. Malone Professor of Electrical Engineering at Yale School of Engineering

Leandros Tassiulas is the John C. Malone Professor of Electrical Engineering at Yale University. His research interests are in the field of computer and communication networks with emphasis on fundamental mathematical models and algorithms of complex networks, architectures and protocols of wireless systems, sensor networks, novel internet architectures and experimental platforms for network research. His most notable contributions include the max-weight scheduling algorithm and the back-pressure network control policy, opportunistic scheduling in wireless, the maximum lifetime approach for wireless network energy management, and the consideration of joint access control and antenna transmission management in multiple antenna wireless systems. Dr. Tassiulas is a Fellow of IEEE (2007). His research has been recognized by several awards including the IEEE Koji Kobayashi computer and communications award (2016), the inaugural INFOCOM 2007 Achievement Award "for fundamental contributions to resource allocation in communication networks," several best paper awards including the INFOCOM 1994, 2017 and Mobihoc 2016, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Initiation Award (1992), an NSF CAREER Award (1995), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (1997) and a Bodossaki Foundation award (1999). He holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park (1991). He has held faculty positions at Polytechnic University, New York, University of Maryland, College Park, University of Ioannina and University of Thessaly, Greece.

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Azeem A. Malik - IBM Food Trust

Azeem joined IBM upon graduating from Yale SOM in 2012.  He spent 3 years with IBM's Corporate Development team, focused on M&A and divestiture activity across IBM's businesses.  He then joined the IBM Watson Business Development team to focus on building out IBM's strategic imperatives.  Azeem is currently on the IBM Blockchain team focused on business development opportunities for the IBM Food Trust solution, which aims to provide traceability to improve food transparency and efficiency. Prior to SOM, Azeem worked in various banking, financial services, and operations roles.  He received his Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 2004.  At SOM, Azeem was Captain of the SOM Debate team and Co-Chair of the South Asian Business Forum.  

12:00-12:40 - PANEL III: governance

Moderator: Elle Brunsdale

How can blockchain advance sustainability by building trust, preventing corruption, and enabling new incentive structures? Many of today’s systems of governance are prone to corruption, contributing to their ineffectiveness at addressing the ongoing global environmental crisis. This panel will explore the solutions that blockchain could offer in regards to enhancing, transforming, and filling the gaps of existing systems that govern human behavior, with specific focus on land tenure, voting, and payment mechanisms. Panelists will also discuss issues around the governance of blockchain technology itself and the role of regulation in decentralized systems.


Nancy Liao - Executive Director, Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law

Nancy Liao is the John R. Raben/Sullivan & Cromwell Executive Director of the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law and an Associate Research Scholar in Law at Yale Law School. She is interested in the impact of technology on finance and capital markets, and how existing legal frameworks both shape and are shaped by technology. As Executive Director, Ms. Liao hosted the 2017 Weil, Gotshal & Manges Roundtable on Blockchain: The Future of Finance and Capital Markets?. She has spoken about blockchain before the SEC Investor Advisory Committee and at Legaltech, and about the intersection between FinTech and regulation more generally before the Yale Center Beijing. Her interest in technology is grounded in her prior experience in derivatives regulation at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, as well as her past work with financial institution supervision and markets at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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Ariana Fowler - Impact Analyst, Blockchain for Social Impact, ConsenSys

Originally from Dallas, Ariana joined ConsenSys in the fall of 2017 after completing her bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University, where she studied Medicine Health & Society, with a focus in Global Health and Human and Organizational Development, with a focus in International Leadership & Development. In her academic research, she specialized in refugee-related interventions, as well as the economic implications of the global refugee crisis. She has conducted field work in Ghana & Honduras and in the summer of 2016, she was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship to study Urdu in northern India. Ariana also helped launch the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures, located at the Owen School of Management, and during her senior year, served as Student Body President, advocating to central administration on behalf of the 6,000+ undergraduates. As President, she leveraged the university’s large footprint in Nashville to lobby for increased migrant and refugee rights, and worked to create sustainable institutional initiatives supporting historically underrepresented groups at the university.  At ConsenSys, she sits on the Blockchain for Social Impact team where she consults on client-facing projects in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Recently, she has begun to develop use-cases and research studies focusing on the application of blockchain technology as it relates to international development and humanitarian aid delivery.

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Nimit Sawhney - Co-Founder, CEO at Voatz

Nimit has more than 15 years experience in mobile software development, information security and embedded systems including 7 yrs as the business/technical head of a R&D unit. Nimit holds a Master's degree in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Business Management from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and is currently the Co-Founder/CEO of Voatz, a early-stage startup based in the Boston area which is piloting a new blockchain based election voting and citizen engagement platform. Nimit is always exploring new ways of using cutting-edge technologies for the greater good and is an enthusiastic participant in several open source civic tech projects.

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Will Turner - Senior VP of Global Strategy, Senior Scientist at Conservation International

Will Turner is Senior Vice President of Global Strategy and Senior Scientist at Conservation International, where he drives the organization’s strategies to secure the extraordinary natural places that are the foundation of sustainable development. For two decades Dr. Turner has been at the forefront of science integrating our knowledge of biodiversity, climate change and socioeconomics to safeguard forests, reefs, and other essential ecosystems and support the billions who depend on them. A native of Austin, Texas, Dr. Turner studied computer engineering at The University of Texas and earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. He has worked in microprocessor design at IBM and served as research fellow in policy and international affairs at Princeton University. His writings include both popular and scientific articles on topics such as climate change, technology, ecosystem services, conservation planning, impact monitoring, biogeography, animal behavior and the relationship between nature and human societies.

The Blockchain for Sustainable Solutions Conference is organized by “Business & the Environment” which is a joint club/student interest group between the Yale School of Management (SOM) and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES) for students interested in the intersection of business and the environment. Sponsors and co-organizers include the Yale Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking (CITY), International Center for Finance (ICF), Center for Business and Environment at Yale (CBEY), F&ES Energy Student Interest Group.

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