Meet the 2014 NatureNet Science Fellows

The Nature Conservancy's Galbadrakh (Gala) Davaa, (on left) Director of Conservation for the Mongolia Program, watches wildlife with herder Nanzaddorj Namkhai, a volunteer ranger at the Ugtam Nature Reserve on the vast Mongolian grasslands.

Eight accomplished young scientists — with specialties ranging from nanotechnology to sustainable grazing, ocean pollution to land use and infrastructure — 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
Project: 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)

Joleah Lamb, Cornell, oceans and waste
Project: 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
Project: 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
Project: 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
Project: 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
Project: 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
Project: 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
Project: 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 Roy Vagelos and Steven A. Denning, Conservancy board members and founding funders of the NatureNet Science Fellows program.

We will report on the progress of the fellows’ projects here on 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.

Cara Cannon Byington

Cara Cannon Byington is a science writer for The Nature Conservancy covering the work of Conservancy scientists and partners, including the NatureNet Fellows for Cool Green Science. A misplaced Floridian living in Maryland, she is especially fond of any story assignment involving boats and islands, and when not working, can be found hiking, kayaking or traveling with her family and friends. More from Cara

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