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EPA Awards Research Fellowships to 18 New England Students 

Release Date: 11/30/2012
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Nov. 30, 2012) – Eighteen undergraduate and graduate students in environmental studies at New England colleges and universities received a total of up to $783,600 in research fellowships from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The students at colleges in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire were among 127 students nationwide to receive at total of up to $5.3 million from EPA to pay for their tuition this year.

The New England students included four undergrads who received 2012 Greater Research Opportunities fellowships and 14 doctoral students awarded 2012 Science to Achieve Results, or STAR, fellowships. These fellowships encourage leadership in environmental science, research, restoration, pollution prevention and sustainability.

“These awards give students from around New England and the country a chance to pursue research and schooling that might otherwise be inaccessible,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “The fellowships are often critical stepping stones for students who may become accomplished scientists and engineers making significant contributions to the field of environmental protection.”

Among the doctoral students in New England, who won a total of up to $42,000 each for this year and each of the next two years, are four from Massachusetts; one from Rhode Island; seven from Connecticut and two from New Hampshire. The four undergraduate awards, for up to $48,900 each this year and again for each of the next two years, went to students in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Massachusetts doctoral students who received STAR fellowships had the following projects:

• Kellie Cotter, a student in molecular and cellular biology at Boston University - Endocrine Disruption and Adaptation: An Innovative Mechanism Utilizing Alternative Splicing in Estrogen Signaling
• Jessica Bryant, a student in marine sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Interactions between plastic debris, persistent organic pollutants and microorganisms in ocean surface waters
• James Collins, a student in oceanography at MIT - Characterizing the Transformation & Metabolism of Anthropogenic Organic Matter in Estuaries Using Intact Polar Lipids: A Biomarker Approach to Ecosystem Health Assessment
• Kenly Hiller, a student in environmental and water science at University of Massachusetts/Boston - Effects of a permeable reactive barrier on denitrifying bacteria communities and methylmercury concentrations in Waquoit Bay, Mass.

The Rhode Island STAR fellow:

• Rachel Nagy, a student in ecology at Brown University - Ecosystem services of secondary forests in the Mata Atlāntica of Brazil

The New Hampshire STAR fellows:

• Samuel Fey, a l student in ecology at Dartmouth College - The effect of temperature increases on lake plankton community composition: implications for the spread of invasive species and cyanobacterial blooms.
• Marcus Welker, a student in ecology at Dartmouth College - Restoration of Atlantic salmon and their ecosystem services to Lake Champlain by restoring their river imprinting.

The Connecticut STAR fellows:

• Heidi Golden, a student in ecology and ecosystems, at University of Connecticut - Will climate change influence the metapopulation dynamics of the Arctic grayling?
• Hom Sharma, a student in chemical engineering, at University of Connecticut - Computational and experimental investigation of catalyst deactivation to design sulfur-resistant emissions oxidation catalysts.
• Peter Christensen, a student in forestry and environmental studies, at Yale - Up or Out: Measuring and Modeling the Growth of China’s Built Environment
• Nikki Springer, a student in forestry and environmental studies, at Yale -Performance Metrics for Landscape Design: Assessing the Sustainable Sites Initiative
• Amanda Lounsbury, a student in electrical engineering at Yale - Semiconductor Photocatalytic Electrospun Nanofiber Mats as a Green Filter Media for Removal of Heavy Metals from Groundwater
• Devin Shaffer, a student in electrical engineering at Yale - Improving the Quality, Availability, and Sustainability of Drinking Water Supplies through Antifouling and Antiscaling Desalination Membranes
• Jamila Yamani, a student in environmental engineering at Yale - A Novel Technology for the Treatment of Wastewater using a Ubiquitous Chitosan Matrix with Varying Active Components

Four students also received undergrad research grants. They were Ellen Bechtel of Wellesley College in Massachusetts; Eric Kretsch of University of Rhode Island; Nicholas Ravotti of Green Mountain College in Vermont and George Grant of Castleton State College of Vermont.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship program, which is part of the national effort to ensure that the US continues to graduate students ready to meet environmental science, engineering, and policy challenges. The program encourages promising students to pursue careers in environmental fields and to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level.

Supporting graduate environmental study for masters and doctoral students, the STAR fellowship program provides a steady stream of environmental specialists that are meeting society’s environmental challenges by performing new environmental research in engineering and in the physical, biological, health, and social sciences.

Alumni of the fellowship programs often go on to do significant work in the field.

EPA is proud of the many research accomplishments of the alumni of the GRO and STAR fellowship programs. “My research into low-cost solar cells was made possible by this fellowship,” said Dr. Cyrus Wadia, a 2002 STAR fellow and currently assistant director for the White House’s Clean Energy & Materials. These programs have helped thousands of students achieve higher education and conduct cutting edge environmental research.
Applications for the fiscal 2013 program are open. Applicants for the Greater Research Opportunities have until Dec. 5 to apply.

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