2014

Student: Amelia Farber
Faculty: Nicole Ardoin
Year Funded: 2014
Research:  Social Ecological Approaches to PromotingEnvironmental and Stewardship Behavior: The Role of Environmental Education
Department: School of Education

This project will enhance ongoing research on environmental education programs. Specifically, we will examine motivations for and barriers to environmental behavior among a range of audiences and in varying settings; program evaluation and adaptive management in informal settings such as parks and museums; the use of social strategies by non-governmental organizations to engage individuals and communities in decision-making related to natural resource management; leadership and training programs in natural resources and conservation; and the impact of “green” buildings and the built environment on environmental attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors.

Student: Ashley Jowell
Faculty: Thomas Robinson
Year Funded: 2014
Research: Online Dissemination of the Girls Learning Energy and the Environment (GLEE) Program
Department: Pediatrics

Our interdisciplinary team recently successfully developed and evaluated the Girls Learning Energy and Environment (GLEE) intervention, to promote energy conservation and environmental sustainability behaviors among 4th and 5th grade Girl Scouts and their families. We will work with the Vice Provost of Online Learning Office to create the
MOOC; produce training videos, structure the curriculum, and make the most of the edX platform.

Student: Corey Radis
Faculty: Scott Fendorf
Year Funded: 2014
Research: Testing the Feasibility of Using Sediment Accumulated in Searsville Dam as Agricultural Soil
Department: Earth System Science

This project will examine the potential usage of sediments found in the Searsville Dam as agricultural soil. Through testing for various compounds from carbon to arsenic to uranium and employing both biotic and abiotic processes, we will determine if the sediment contains toxins that would prevent its usage on products intended for human consumption.
 

Student: Delaney Sztraicher
Faculty: Elizabeth Hadley
Year Funded: 2014
Research:  Modeling human arrival to South America and population density through the Holocene using archaeological data
Department: Biology

It is well established that the Earth is currently experiencing its sixth mass extinction due to the wide-ranging impacts of human activities, and these negative impacts on biodiversity are projected to further intensify under a growing population and changing global climate. To understand the role humans played in this past extinction, we will create a database of all available archaeological data from South America and create a metric for describing human population density at a given point in time and space.

Student: Kevin Baker& Meaghan Carley
Faculty: James Sweeney
Year Funded: 2014
Research: Counseling Energy Reduction: The Energy Reduction Motivational Interview
Department: Management Science and Engineering

As part of an ARPA-E cooperative agreement, we collected very high resolution, appliance specific electricity information in 30 local homes over a two-week period. While the ERMI allowed us to revisit the potential of face-to-face communication to change behavior when combined with home energy consumption over time and for many appliances, the MUIR intern(s) will perform the data analysis from this pilot study.
 

Student: Mark Carrington
Faculty: Jon Krosnick
Year Funded: 2014
Research: American Public Opinion About Climate Change
Department: Communication;& Political Science

In numerous surveys, our group has found that the vast majority of Americans are on the "green" side of the issue. But in recent surveys, we found that when Americans are asked to guess the opinions of Americans on the issue, people underestimate the prevalence of green opinions and underestimate the gap between Republicans and Democrats. This project will involve conducting content analysis and experiments to explore the impact of exposure to news stories on people's perceptions of public opinion.
 

Student: Olivia Cords
Faculty: Giulio De Leo
Year Funded: 2014
Research:  Public Health and Disease Ecology: the Global Control of Schistosomiasis
Department: Biology

Schistosomiasis is a debilitating parasitic infection affecting more than 220 million people in the developing world, especially where dams and water projects have greatly expanded freshwater habitat for snails, the parasite’s intermediate hosts. We are investigating the viability and cost-effectiveness of a novel biological control approach based on the reintroduction of native crustacean predators (prawns) of snails in hotspots of disease transmission.

Student: Roberto Guzman
Faculty: Fiorenza Micheli
Year Funded: 2014
Research: Assessing the magnitude and ecological effects of the seastar die-off in the Lovers Point State Marine Reserve
Department: Biology

Between September-December 2013, mass mortality of several seastar species was documented throughout coastal California. The die-off, likely caused by an unknown viral or bacterial pathogen, has affected intertidal species inhabiting rocky shores and kelp forests, including Pisaster ochraceus, the ocher seastar. We will conduct surveys of rocky shore habitat within the LPSMR and nearby sites and repeat past surveys utilizing identical methodologies in order to compare data to past assessments and evaluate possible changes in abundance, species composition, and size structure of sea stars.
 

Student: Smriti Sridhar
Faculty: Sally Benson
Year Funded: 2014
Research: Environmental Sustainability of Solar Fuels
Department: Energy Resources Engineering

There is growing interest in making liquid or gaseous fuels from solar energy, either directly using photoelectrocatalysis or indirectly using a electrocatalysis. This research project will perform systems analysis to evaluate and compare the environmental sustainability of these technologies from three perspectives: net energy, water intensity, and material demands.