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Natural resources graduate students earn EPA fellowships



Cornell graduate students Darrick Nighthawk Evensen, M.S. '11, and Christine Moskell, M.S. '12, have received Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Both are current Ph.D. students in the graduate field of natural resources and conduct research in the Human Dimensions Research Unit of the Department of Natural Resources. They will each receive $126,000 STAR fellowships in the social sciences program area.

Evensen's research project, "Linking Social Representations of Natural Gas Development to Community Sustainability in the U.S.A. and Canada," will examine the influence of individual and community factors on actions that support sustainable development. Unconventional natural gas development presents a potentially lucrative opportunity to bolster the economy, support energy independence and revitalize depressed regions, but also threatens community sustainability, Evensen says. His research will facilitate identification and assessment of actions communities can take to promote sustainability.

Evensen also is a graduate student elected trustee and recent winner of the Cornelia Ye Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, given by the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Moskell's research project is "An Examination of Citizen Participation and Procedural Fairness in Large-Scale Urban Tree Planting Initiatives in the United States."

"Cities across the U.S. are planting millions of trees, and local governments are relying on residents to help maintain the trees," Moskell writes. "However, residents may not be willing to take care of these trees because of the financial costs and physical burden associated with tree care and also may not recognize themselves as sharing responsibility for newly planted trees. This research examines the relationship between residents' perceptions of the procedural fairness of urban tree planting initiatives and their attitudes toward, and intention to steward, newly planted trees."

The goal of the STAR fellowship program is "to encourage promising students to obtain advanced degrees and pursue careers in an environmental field," according to the EPA. "This goal is consistent with the mission of EPA, which is to provide leadership in the nation's environmental science, research, education, assessment, restoration, preservation, pollution prevention and sustainability efforts."

In 2012, more than 1,500 graduate students applied for STAR research fellowships across 19 program areas, and the EPA awarded more than $5.3 million to 126 students pursuing degrees in environmental studies, including 87 STAR graduate fellowships and 39 Greater Research Opportunities undergraduate fellowships.


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John Carberry