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Leehi Yona to Join Cornell Law School Faculty

Leehi Yona, an interdisciplinary legal scholar with a robust background in climate science, will be joining the Cornell Law faculty as an assistant professor of law in July 2024. Beginning next year, she will teach a course on Climate Change Law and Policy and a course on Environmental Law.

Leehi Yona

Yona brings a unique and vital perspective to the intersection of law, climate science, policy, and justice. She recently completed her Ph.D. in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, alongside her J.D. at Stanford Law School. Her dissertation, “Who (and What) Counts? The Science, Law, and Policy of Greenhouse Gas Inventories,” examines the critical process of greenhouse gas accounting, which underpins global climate change policies. Her research addresses the challenges and gaps in greenhouse gas inventorying and seeks to enhance the accuracy and efficacy of climate laws and policies.

With a scholarly record that spans prestigious journals such as Nature, Nature Sustainability, and the Journal of Environmental Science and Policy, Yona has been recognized for her innovative and impactful contributions to environmental regulation and climate law. Her work has also been celebrated in academic forums, including the Junior Faculty Forum on Law and STEM and colloquia at Columbia Law School and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.

“Leehi Yona’s work is at the forefront of climate and environmental law policy, and her contributions have quickly established her as a young leader in her field,” said Jens David Ohlin, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law. “With her arrival at Cornell Law School, she will instantly elevate the stature of our environmental law program and train the next generation of Cornell environmental lawyers.”

Yona’s previous experience includes roles as a climate justice community organizer, youth delegate at United Nations climate negotiations, and board member for environmental organizations. She has also conducted extensive research on the ecological and policy systems integration for climate goals.

In addition to her academic achievements, Yona has been an influential voice in public discourse on climate issues, contributing over one hundred opinion pieces to prominent publications such as The Los Angeles Times, Science, and The Nation. Her insights have been featured in major news outlets, including The Guardian, The Washington Post, and CBC News.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to join the Cornell Law community and feel lucky to join colleagues who have such a deep commitment to scholarship and teaching,” said Yona. “I was struck by the thoughtfulness and care of the law students I’ve met on campus, and I am especially looking forward to teaching and mentoring students in environmental law and climate law.”

Yona holds an A.B. in Environmental Studies and Biological Sciences from Dartmouth College, where she graduated with high honors and received numerous awards for her research and leadership. She also earned a Master of Environmental Science from Yale University, where her thesis focused on translating science to policy for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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