Weekly Update: Study Finds Uranium Contamination, Spotlight on Marine Lab Outreach, PhD Wins 2 Fellowships and more …

June 25, 2018

A roundup of Nicholas School news, awards and grants from Dean Jeff Vincent

Cameron Sholly DEL-MEM ‘10.jpg

Cameron Sholly DEL-MEM ‘10 (left) is the new superintendent of Yellowstone National Park (see item #2). (Photo Credit: U.S. DOI)

Hi everyone,
I hope you all are having a pleasant and productive summer. Quite a few items have accumulated since the last update in May. Please see below for a bunch of good news about our faculty, students, research staff, and alumni, along with information on how you can easily learn about the implementation status of our strategic plan.
Wishing you all well,

  1. We’ve created a new web-based dashboard that allows faculty or staff to check in on the progress we’re making toward achieving the specific goals set forth in our school’s five-year strategic plan, “Working Together to Advance Environmental Education and Research.” By logging in with your NetID and password, you can check the current status of goals we identified for research; diversity & inclusion; PhD programs; professional degree programs; and undergrad degree programs.
  2. Nic School alum Cameron Sholly DEL-MEM ’10 has been appointed superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. Serving as Yellowstone’s superintendent is one of National Park Service’s most prestigious but demanding assignments. I’m confident that Cam, an Army veteran who completed his DEL-MEM degree while working fulltime in senior management positions at NPS, is up to the task. Please join me in congratulating him and wishing him all the best in his new post!    
  3. A study led by Liz Shaver PhD ’18 provides long-sought proof that local conservation actions can boost coral’s resilience to climate-induced bleaching. By removing coral-eating snails from six reefs in the Florida Keys during a three-month spike in water temperatures, Liz and her team were able to reduce subsequent thermal bleaching of the corals by half. Their finding hopefully will inform the ongoing scientific debate over the efficacy of local conservation measures in stemming the tide of thermal bleaching that’s decimating reefs worldwide. Brian Silliman co-authored the study. You can learn more here
  4. PhD student Seth Sykora-Bodie has won two prestigious international fellowships to support his dissertation research on marine protected areas. On Sept. 1, he’ll begin a six-month Endeavor Research Fellowship to study systematic conservation planning at James Cook University in Australia. In April 2019, he’ll begin a nine-month Chateaubriand Fellowship at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, to study the sustainability of social-ecological systems.
  5. PhD student Edgar Virguez has been named an inaugural member of the Energy Data Analytics PhD Student Fellows, which provides research support and professional development opportunities to young scholars who are using data science to facilitate accessible, affordable, reliable and clean energy systems. Edgar’s fellowship will help fund his research on market and policy approaches to promote renewable energy resources.
  6. The DUML Community Science Initiative's marine debris program for elementary schools was featured in Coastal Review Online last month. Led by Liz DeMattia, the NSF-funded program has engaged 574 fourth- and fifth-grade Carteret County students this past academic year. The program has helped remove nearly 4,000 pounds of marine debris from local beaches and create marine debris art that’s being displayed throughout Beaufort.
  7. Chris Paul PhD’16 recently published two articles with his advisors Erika Weinthal and Marc Jeuland based on their research in Ethiopia. The first explores national climate policymaking and the second zeroes in on the choices households have to make regarding water and health in challenging environments.
  8. A new study led by PhD student Rachel Coyte and her advisor Avner Vengosh found widespread uranium contamination in groundwater from aquifers in 16 Indian states. The main source of the uranium contamination is natural, but human factors such as groundwater-table decline and nitrate pollution may be exacerbating the problem.
  9. Brian Wong MEM’18 was among three graduate students who received the 2018 Bass Connections Award for Outstanding Mentorship. Brian, who served as project manager for the Energy Data Analytics Lab: Electricity Access in Developing Countries from Aerial Imagery, received a $700 prize and was recognized at the Bass Connections Showcase in April.
  10. MEM students Leah Louis-Prescott, Lauren Mechak, Rachel Brinks, Danielle Arostegui and Ryan Callihan traveled to Colorado in April to present their Master's Project findings to the City of Boulder. The group worked on carbon tax research and analysis for the city for the past year.
  11. Kudos to Dan Richter for being selected to give the Soil Science Society of America’s Nyle C. Brady Lecture next January in San Diego. 
  12. Congrats to Professor Emeritus Ken Reckhow for being named to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on the Review of the New York City Watershed Protection Program.

Keep me up to date on what you are doing. Submit your items here.