LEAP Announces Three Student Grant Program Recipients for 2023

Three individual photos, arranged in a row on a blue background: Grace Cajski, Diego Ellis Soto, and  Quincy Yangh
LEAP Student Grant Program grantees for 2023, from left: Grace Cajski, Diego Ellis Soto, and Quincy Yangh.

The Law, Ethics & Animals Program (LEAP) at Yale Law School continues the LEAP Student Grant Program this year. Chosen from a highly competitive applicant pool, three students from across Yale are undertaking projects that build understanding of, draw attention to, and/or develop new strategies to address the urgent threats facing nonhuman animals. This year’s set of awards will support multidisciplinary projects in conservation storytelling, art and education, and the spiritual and cultural importance of nonhuman animals. Bios of the 2023 LEAP Student Grant recipients follow.

Grace Cajski

Cajski is a rising senior at Yale College studying English and Environmental Studies with a concentration in marine conservation. This research is a capstone of her undergraduate academic career, which has been dedicated to understanding how storytelling can be a powerful conservation tool, and builds on her work as a 2021 LEAP grant recipient. As a New Orleanian, Cajski has seen how environmental degradation has obligated coastal communities that were once stewards of abundance to be conservationists. Cajski seeks to be part of a movement to create a better world, where coastal communities can reliably harvest sustainably and healthily from the sea. As a 2023 LEAP student grant recipient, Cajski will work with community organizations, including the Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa, on Hawai‘i Island to tell stories about anchialine pools, ranging from ArcGIS Story Maps to magazine feature pieces. Through science communication, Cajski hopes to foster empathy, stoke hope, and celebrate community. 

Diego Ellis Soto

Ellis Soto is a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology at Yale and a NASA FINESST Future Investigator from Uruguay. Working at the intersection of ecology, technology, conservation, and environmental justice, Ellis Soto researches how animals move and shape ecosystems across the world under increasing human threats and a rapidly changing climate. He is also interested in how access to biodiversity data is shaped by socioeconomic status and how past and present social inequalities amplify current disparities in environmental sciences. As a music producer, Ellis Soto is interested in showcasing how technology allows us to see the world through the lens of animals themselves, from their individual movements, to the sounds animals make. With this LEAP grant, Ellis Soto will continue his work on Collective Pulse, a project that combines cutting-edge technology with biological principles and musical theory to represent the lives of animals through art and music. 

Quincy Yangh

Yangh is currently a Master of Environmental Management graduate student at Yale School of the Environment. His academic and professional interests revolve around the themes of Indigenous resurgence and sovereignty, Hmong ecologies, co-environmental stewardship, and biocultural conservation. For his LEAP student grant project, Yangh aims to explore the enduring and evolving relationship between the Hmong Shaman community and animals. He recognizes that animals hold immense spiritual and cultural significance in various facets of Hmong life, ranging from Shaman ceremonies and rituals to medicine to agricultural and ecological practices. To gain a deeper understanding of this intimate relationship, Yangh will meet and engage with Hmong Shamans across the U.S. diaspora. Through this project, he hopes to share a different perspective on human and animal relationships with the broader community and illuminate how his community has preserved and upheld its profound relationship with animals despite centuries of displacement, erasure, and imperial violence. 

READ MORE: LEAP Student Grant Program 2022 grantees and 2021 grantees