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GCA Scholars - Where are They Now?


January 07, 2021

Former GCA Scholar Lucas Joppa is Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer

In 2003, Lucas Joppa was awarded the GCA’s Clara Carter Higgins Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship. Fast forward seventeen years — he is now Dr. Joppa (PhD in Ecology) and serves as Microsoft’s first chief environmental officer. Some of the credit, he says, goes to that early support from the GCA. “The Garden Club of America was one of the first organizations to take a chance on me. I can draw a direct line from that scholarship through to service in the Peace Corps, a National Science Foundation Fellowship, my first job as a computational ecologist, and my current role.”

Dr. Joppa remains an active scientist in his position at Microsoft, blending together environmental science research with ongoing technology innovation in order to manage the company’s overall environmental sustainability efforts. He is motivated by the urgent need to find solutions to environmental challenges and to transform the way society manages the earth’s natural resources. In addition, Microsoft made the astonishing commitment to become carbon negative by the end of this decade. As a result, Dr. Joppa founded the company’s program called “A.I. for Earth” that now supports organizations developing new environmental technologies with tens of millions of dollars in grants, focusing this support in the four key areas of climate change, agriculture, water, and biodiversity conservation.

The Clara Carter Higgins Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship was established in 1964 to encourage studies and careers in the environmental field. By awarding thousands of scholarships over many decades, the GCA has supported the studies of future leaders such as Dr. Joppa in botany, horticulture, ecology, conservation, landscape architecture, and more. Find out more about GCA scholarships by visiting

Photo taken for Microsoft by Roderigo De Medeiros


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