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Research furthers food security, sovereignty

Amber Heckelman. Photo by Laura Evancich, WSU Vancouver.
Amber Heckelman. Photo by Laura Evancich, WSU Vancouver.
Amber Heckelman, a doctoral student of environmental science at Washington State University Vancouver, has won the 2013-2014 Bullitt Foundation Environmental Fellowship worth $100,000 for research that centers on alleviating the suffering of Philippine peasants by restoring food security and sovereignty.

Awarded annually since 2007, the prize goes to an outstanding, environmentally knowledgeable graduate student from an underrepresented community who has demonstrated an exceptional capacity for leadership as well as scholarship. This is the third year in a row the honor has gone to a WSU student.

Read more about the environmental leadership award

On Gaiser Pond: Middle-schoolers have been doing real science

Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens
Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens
Now dubbed “Gaiser Pond” by the school community, wetlands below the school are being studied and cleaned up thanks to two dedicated Gaiser Middle School science teachers and their students and environmental science graduate students from Washington State University Vancouver.

The Partners in Discovery GK-12 Project brought together environmental science graduate students from WSUV with middle school science teachers in several Clark County districts for real-world science projects using funds from an NSF grant.

Read more and see the video

Grant funds preparation for invasive mussels

Stephen Bollens

Researchers at Washington State University are preparing for a Northwest invasion of the zebra mussel – a small, distinctly striped and rather tenacious freshwater mollusk that can quickly encrust underwater surfaces. The mussels have caused significant damage in other parts of the country and pose an enormous risk to the hydroelectric infrastructure, recreational facilities and unique ecological system of the Columbia River Basin.

“Once they are established in the water, they are almost impossible to eradicate,” said Stephen Bollens, director of the WSU School of the Environment and lead investigator for a $630,000 grant from the Bonneville Power Administration to ramp up preparations.

Read more about aquatic hitchikers at WSU News >>

WSU receives $1.5M for Columbia Basin water modeling

By Kathy Barnard, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Finding ways to involve primary water users in the research process to develop scientifically sound and economically feasible public policy for water usage in the Columbia River Basin is the focus of a new, $1.5 million grant at Washington State University.

Scientists from WSU’s School of the Environment and the WSU Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach have received a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to build a collaborative water modeling project in the Columbia River Basin. Assistant professor Cailin Huyck Orr, an expert in inland waters, will lead an interdisciplinary, multi-campus team of social scientists, earth scientists, economists, civil and environmental engineers, agricultural scientists, and policy experts in the Watershed Integrated Systems Dynamics Modeling (WISDM) project.

“Research universities have the expertise to help solve a plethora of societal problems,” said CEREO director Howard Grimes. “Among the most complex is water management, especially in light of environmental change and diverse stakeholder interests. This interdisciplinary approach is exactly what is needed.”  Continue story →

Researcher sees how forests thrive after fires and volcanoes

Mount St. Helens landscape
Mount St. Helens Johnston Ridge, 25 years later - courtesy Wikipedia.

Forests hammered by windstorms, avalanches, and wildfires may appear blighted, but a Washington State University researcher says such disturbances can be key to maximizing an area’s biological diversity.

In fact, says Mark Swanson, land managers can alter their practices to enhance such diversity, creating areas with a wide variety of species, including rare and endangered plants and animals.

“The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, for example, has created very diverse post-eruption conditions, and has some of the highest plant and animal diversity in the western Cascades range,” says Mark Swanson, an assistant professor of landscape ecology and silviculture in Washington State University’s School of the Environment.

Swanson, who has studied disturbed areas on Mount St. Helens and around western North America, presents his findings this week at the national convention of the Ecological Society of America in Portland. » More …