Welcome from ENVS Chair, Uriel Kitron

Dear Friends of ENVS,

As another academic year gets underway, it is again a time of reflection and anticipation in Environmental Sciences (ENVS) at Emory. As faculty and students return to campus to embark on another year of scholarship, innovation and collaboration, we want to share with you some of the many accomplishments of ENVS faculty and students over this past year.  We are often inspired by those that make their academic home here in Environmental Sciences at Emory and are grateful for the opportunity to work closely with faculty and students who are invested in creating solutions to critical environmental issues facing us in the 21st century.

This past year we celebrated a number of students as they were recognized and rewarded for their outstanding scholarship. Environmental Science students were among those receiving the most prestigious of Emory’s awards: the Bobby Jones Scholarship, the Fulbright Research/Study Grant, and the Charles E. Shepard Scholarship.  A full listing of ENVS students who received award recognition at graduation is available here.

Our ENVS honors students were all recognized this year with highest honors.  Jamie Botsch (C’17) defended his thesis "Impacts of Forest Fragmentation on Species Diversity of Orchid Bees (Apidae: Euglossini) in the Chocó Biodiversity Hotspot of Northwest Ecuador", Laila Atalla (C’17), "Release from interspecific competition results in species niche expansion in bumble bees" and Hsini (Cindy) Chu (C’17), "Contaminant removal of non-pollen material in palynologic samples for DNA barcoding". The commitment to scholarship by these students and their advisors is inspiring.

As the world grapples with issues of climate change, disease and the impacts of humans on the earth,  ENVS faculty engage these issues through scholarship and a commitment to students through research and service opportunities. This past year ENVS professor, Dr. Eri Saikawa co-founded a Coalition of the Liberal Arts (CoLA) course titled “Paris is an Explanation: Understanding Climate Change at the 2015 United Nations Meeting in France." The course culminated in Paris with students actively participating in the activities of the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21).  Students reflected on their experience through blog posts from Paris and for many it proved to be a life-changing experience.

ENVS Professor Tracy Yandle worked with students this past May as part of her National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) grant studying the viability of creating a market for the consumption of invasive lionfish in the US Virgin Islands. As part of the Maymester course, students traveled with Professor Yandle to St. Croix to conduct surveys of local residents on how likely it is they would buy lionfish to eat. Professor Yandle, in an interview with Emory’s eScience Commons indicated that “at the end of the project, we will figure out if there can be a viable market for the lionfish, and if so, we will provide guidance for how the market could be developed.” Students came away from the experience with a sincere appreciation of how to develop and implement a survey and its application to the policy issues surrounding invasive lionfish.

As an interdisciplinary department, ENVS continues to attract students who are compelled by the opportunity to work with diverse faculty who are engaged in research related to ecology, biological conservation, disease ecology, atmospheric and earth sciences, and climate change. As a department we are thrilled to congratulate ENVS Professor Berry Brosi on his Winship Distinguished Research professorship Award in Mathematics and Natural Science. This three-year award recognizes tenured faculty who have demonstrated singular accomplishments in research.

As a department, we have many examples of outstanding faculty and student work. We invite you to keep in touch through our Emory University homepage or “like” us on our Facebook page so as not to miss any ENVS news and happenings. 

We look forward to keeping in touch and hope you will let us know where your degree has taken you. If you find yourself in the area, please stop in to visit. Professor Hickcox continues to host waffles on Thursdays and it is often the highlight of the week for students and faculty to convene over homemade waffles and Vermont maple syrup.

Keep in touch and be well,

Uriel Kitron, Ph.D., MPH

Goodrich C. White Professor and Chair