NatureNet Science Fellows Program

Meet the Class of 2014

Eight accomplished young scientists — with specialties ranging from nanotechnology to sustainable grazing — have been named to the second cohort of NatureNet Science Fellows, a Nature Conservancy partnership designed to help kick-start conservation toward addressing the challenges facing people and nature in the 21st century.

The fellows begin their two-year assignments this fall, working within the Conservancy’s U.S. and international programs. Jointly mentored by a Conservancy expert and a senior scholar from one of the NatureNet partner universities — Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, or Yale — fellows will pursue research that promises to deliver crucial answers around nanotechnology, sustainable development, food production, clean water supplies, energy futures, and urban ecology.

The 2014 NatureNet Science Fellows and their projects:

Essayas Kaba Ayana, Columbia, water conflict
Use spatial modeling to identify communities where mitigation and conservation measures can help prevent conflict over scarce natural resources — primarily water and pasture — in the Nile Basin.

Mentors: Ruth DeFries (Columbia), Jon Fisher (The Nature Conservancy)

Trishna Dutta, Columbia, conservation and infrastructure development

Create maps, models and spatial tools to show how landscape connectivity between India's protected areas is important to biodiversity conservation, and use the information developed to help people create a shared, science-based vision for meeting the needs of both infrastructure development and conservation.

Mentors: Ruth DeFries (Columbia University), Heather Tallis (The Nature Conservancy)

Joleah Lamb, Cornell, oceans and waste
Measure the effectiveness of natural methods and management, such as bi-valve reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses, for mitigating the spread of run-off pollution that causes infectious disease in the coral reefs of Indonesia.

Mentors: C. Drew Harvell (Cornell), Steph Wear (The Nature Conservancy)

Megan McSherry, Princeton, soil carbon

Explore how smart grazing strategies in the Kenyan rangelands could promote conservation while providing a livelihood to pastoralists through soil carbon credits.

Mentors: Dan Rubenstein (Princeton), Tim Boucher (The Nature Conservancy)

Spencer Meyer, Yale, forest conservation and clean water

Create spatial models to optimize forest conservation for the lasting protection of water quality and supply, and enable communities to make the most effective use of conservation and natural infrastructure investments.

Mentors: Brad Gentry (Yale), Jen Molnar (The Nature Conservancy)

Michael Pennino, Princeton, land use and water quality
Advance sustainable development by linking patterns of land use and infrastructure (roads, sewers) with measures of water quality to develop a rigorous framework for prioritizing management decisions and selecting conservation techniques.

Mentors: Peter Jaffe (Princeton), Rob McDonald (The Nature Conservancy)

Won-Hee Ryu, Yale, efficient solar energy
Develop an organic polymer solar cell that can compete with more expensive silicon cells in energy efficiency with minimum production of waste and toxic byproducts.

Mentors: Andre Taylor (Yale), Jen Molnar (The Nature Conservancy)

Haoran Yang, University of Pennsylvania, nanotechnology for energy and clean water
Improve global sustainability by developing green nanotechnology-based solutions for pressing environmental challenges, including energy production and water treatment.

Mentors: Chris Murray (University of Pennsylvania), Peter Kareiva (The Nature Conservancy)

Mingliang Zhang, University of Pennsylvania, nanotechnology for clean water
Develop a system that uses nanoparticles with magnetic cores to remove chemicals and pathogens from water.

Mentors: Chris Murray (University of Pennsylvania), Peter Kareiva (The Nature Conservancy)

The Conservancy's NatureNet Science Fellowships are made possible by the leadership and generosity of Conservancy board members and founding funders of NatureNet Roy Vagelos and Steven A. Denning.

We will report on the progress of the fellows’ projects through the Conservancy’s science blog, Cool Green Science. To learn more about the NatureNet Science Fellows Program and its university partners or how to apply for the 2015 fellowships, go to our NatureNet Science Fellows homepage.


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