2020-2021 Luce Scholar

Ben Weissenbach is a senior at Princeton University, where he studies English and Environmental Studies. In this age of digital absorption and climatic change, Ben aspires to write engaging stories about our changing relationship to the natural world. He has spent much of the past two years in Alaska, shadowing scientists who study different facets of climate change. Last summer, for example, Ben joined an National Science Foundation-funded research expedition that walked and packrafted 360 miles across the Brooks Range to try to determine why tree lines are advancing north in some parts of the Arctic but not others. He is weaving together research and first-hand experiences from the past two years into a narrative nonfiction undergraduate thesis on climate change in Alaska.

At Princeton, Ben has studied writing under John McPhee and Rebecca Mead. He has also freelanced for local publications as a member of the Princeton University Press Club. A two-time National Outdoor Leadership School alumnus and an avid outdoorsman, he summited Denali in 2018 via the Muldrow Glacier route. He also spent three months in Bolivia and Peru during a gap year before college, backpacking, living with locals, and learning about environmental and political issues. As an ocean therapy volunteer with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, Ben teaches at-risk youth and veterans with PTSD to access the healing power of the ocean through surfing. Ben loves running, surfing, and sharing his passion for the outdoors.