Weekly Update: Awards, Reports, Papers and more....

December 8, 2016

No big personal message from me this week.  Finals loom, it’s one of the busiest times of the year, and there’s lots of great news to share, so let’s get on with it! (And keep sharing your good news with me – we’ll have one more Weekly Update this year before we take a three-week hiatus over winter break.)






  1. Emeritus faculty member Peter Haff has been named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). He was selected for the honor – which is bestowed on less than 0.1 percent of AGU’s total membership – in recognition of his seminal research on the physics of ion sputtering, granular flows and sediment transport, as well as his pioneering scholarship on the neoenvironment and the technosphere. You can learn more here. Kudos, Peter, on this richly deserved recognition by your peers.


  1. Martin Doyle is a lead author of a timely new report from the 2016 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum focusing on the shifting roles of public and private financing for water infrastructure in the United States. The 67-page report provides a great overview of the financing challenges we face as we race to modernize America’s aging water infrastructure, along with a detailed review of the array of innovative new financing solutions – suitable for use by government agencies, NGOs and the private sector alike – that can help us better achieve the concurrent goals of resource protection and financial profit. The executive summary and key findings sections are must-reads for anyone with an interest in the water sector. You can download the full report here.   


  1. In case you missed it, MEM alum Maggie Clary Monast was featured in a story in The Wall Street Journal this week about the work she’s doing as manager of sustainable sourcing at Environmental Defense Fund to help Smithfield Foods, one of the nation’s largest pork producers, cut its carbon emissions by a quarter. The project represents the most ambitious commitment yet by a U.S. meatpacker to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions. It will involve scaling back the use of fertilizer to grow grain for pig feed and installing new systems to extract natural gas from manure, among other measures. Maggie earned her MEM in 2011; her concentration was Environmental Economics & Policy.


  1. Two recent papers by Curt Richardson and 2016 PhD alum Scott Winton shed new light on the role waterfowl can have on wetlands’ methane emissions and nitrogen export. Their work reveals that wetlands managed as waterfowl refuges are potent emitters of methane and release as much nitrogen into the surrounding environment as agricultural fields – but the good news is there may be a relatively simple way for land managers to reduce these impacts, while still providing vital habitat to millions of migratory birds. You can read the studies, which are the first to document the top-down control waterfowl exert on these processes, here and here.


  1. Please join me in congratulating our newly elected 2017 Nic School Student Council officers, who will take office in January. They are: Nicole Miller, co-director of finance; Adam Fischer, co-director of student groups; Rachel Brinks, NSOE event coordinator; Hayley Hanway, orientation event coordinator; Kathryn Gaasch, secretary; Jianing Fan, international representative; Kelsey Johnson Sapp, Beaufort representative; and Carley Reynolds, communications officer. We’re lucky to have such a talented and hard-working group of student leaders, and I look forward to working with them in the coming year.


  1. Joe Morton, a PhD student in Brian Silliman’s lab, received an honorable mention award for Best Student Paper for his presentation, “Parasites Enhance Ecosystem Functions and Resistance to Drought in a Coastal Wetland,” at the Western Society of Naturalists’ annual meeting in Monterey, Calif., last month.  You can learn more about Joe’s research here.


Please keep me up to date on what you are doing so I can share your news. Submit your items here.