Xime Trujillo

Ximena (Xime) Trujillo is the Research Coordinator for the Environmental Innovations Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania.

I grew up in Colombia; traveling along the Andes mountains awoke my curiosity about the equilibrium between humans and nature. My drive is to articulate local actions with global goals, and this has led me to study environmental engineering and sciences. At Penn, I inform strategic growth through data-inspired projects to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations.

Big Idea(s) for Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education

What does the world need most right now?

Let’s imagine the world is a deserted island where you can only bring one thing; what would you bring? I will get a mirror. A simple object,  yet powerful enough to communicate far reaching signals. Effective communication is critical for the advance of sustainability. I strive to make data-inspired projects informative by marrying content with form. Here, I dare to share 5 lessons learned so far to avoid the data-rich but information-poor scenario - so to speak! I like to keep these close as a reminder when needed. 

  1. Make communication part of the process (plan for it).
  2. Set specific goals for your audience(s), and welcome feedback.
  3. Show the link between the evidence, the context and the call to action.
  4. Simplify complex arguments.
  5. Spread empathy so we can all deal with uncertainty together.

Leadership and Inspiration

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

"If you don’t fall, you don’t learn”. When I’m at the limit of my comfort zone, I remember this advice given to me by an unforgettable ski instructor. Thanks to these words, I learned not to fear falling and was set free to learn and improve. In sustainability, we often measure success in terms of outcomes; and we want to minimize mistakes. Yet, it is easy to forget that failure is part of any learning process. I believe that as long as we can learn from our mistakes, we are getting closer, instead of farther, to our purpose of being change-makers.

Tenacity and Perseverance

The Climate Emergency we face feels like the greatest challenge of our lifetime – what keeps you inspired?

Whenever my inspiration flicks, I come back to my network, and read my colleagues’ work. Getting connected through ideas to others open to sharing their knowledge and offering solutions makes me feel energized. I realize that the will to address the Climate Emergency is actually everywhere. You, I, and many others are part of Team Earth! As long as that team exists, its actions are my inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Fun Fact

What is your favourite activity in your spare time?

My favorite activity is trail running. I feel synchronized with the landscape, from a quiet morning stillness to a progressive heart-beating rhythm as the day progresses. Intensity variations zest my reward. Perhaps less intense, but also satisfying; I like getting things done. The weekend is when I tick all the chores off my list; these humble achievements also bring a heart-warming sense of accomplishment.