Student: Alex Heaney
Faculty: Terry Root
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Emerging Influenza: The Role of Climate Change and Migratory Birds
Department: Woods Institute for the Environment

The overall research goal is to investigate the relationship between climate change and emerging influenza, using changes in birds as a connection between them. Wild migratory birds are the primary reservoir for influenza viruses and are known to infect domestic birds. One hypothesis that will be addressed is that spatial and temporal changes in wild birds have already and will continue to result in new contact occurring between wild and domestic birds. If true, this new contact has and will continue to broadening the number of infected domestic birds coming into contact with infected wild birds. Another hypothesis is that stresses, which can certainly lower the overall health of wild birds, will increase wild birds’ susceptibility to the influenza virus and also increase viral shedding. If true, wild birds would be circulating and likely transmitting a larger viral load in areas at the beginning, ending and along their migratory path.

Student: Belinda Tang
Faculty: Jenna Davis
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Reuse of Waste Stabilization Pond Treated Bio-solids in Uganda: Health Risks & Financial Gains
Department: Civil Environmental Engineering

This project explores the extent to which human excreta and bio-solids are reused for crop fertilization and the safety and cost- effectiveness of these practices. While preliminary work in Uganda demonstrates that small-scale farmers are using partially treated sludge for crop fertilization, an information gap still exists regarding the extent of these practices, current fertilizing techniques, and the potential economic gains resulting from the sale of the sludge. In collaboration with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), this project aims to better understand the health risks and financial gains associated with the reuse of bio- solids.

Student: Claire Zabel
Faculty: Rob Dunbar
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs: Insights from Experiments at Palmyra Atoll
Department: Environmental Earth System Science

The oceans are currently experiencing both warming and increased acidification due to the effect of rising atmospheric CO2 levels. This project explores how these changes will affect the world’s low-lying coral atolls. Few actual measurements of organismal responses to ocean acidification are available; and fewer still from in-situ “natural” setting. Palmyra Atoll is uniquely situated in a setting that experiences large natural changes in seawater pCO2. In-situ field experiments will be used to measure actual rates of net community dissolution and precipitation of carbonate during the seasonal cycle that, at Palmyra Atoll, is accompanied by “natural” pH variability.

Student: Emma Broderick
Faculty: Nicole Ardoin
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Evaluation Research on Konawaena Place-Based Environmental Education, Program and Hula Show Project
Department: School of Education

This project involves the development of tools needed to evaluate two culturally grounded environmental education programs in Kona, Hawai’i. One is a place-based education program in a public middle school, and the second is a hula performance designed jointly by local community members and Rachelle Gould a Stanford PhD candidate. The project goal is to explore the changes that the educational programs might engender in the students’ interrelated cultural and environmental knowledge and attitudes. Emma will conduct the post-test and analyze the data with consultation with the community partner. The post-survey results will be used to design an interview instrument to explore themes, questions, and ideas emerging from the survey work.

Student: Esther Oh
Faculty: Larry Crowder
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Social Science Research in Hawaiian Coral Reef Fisheries
Department: Center for Ocean Solutions

This project explores how social networks and socio-cultural factors mediate nearshore fishing and gathering activities at the community level in Hawaii. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected to gain more insight into both the social and kinship fishing networks as well as the socio-cultural benefits of seafood consumption in these communities. Specifically, the project team will assess: 1) fish-flow, and 2) the benefits of seafood consumption.

Student: Jeanette Lim
Faculty: William Durham
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Perceptions of Environmental Degradation and Mitigation in Tambopata, Peru
Department: Anthropology

This project will examine local perceptions of environmental degradation and mitigation in the Tambopata region of Peru, and study how these perceptions differ between community members, tourists, and tourism employees along the Tampbopata River. Understanding the views and behaviors of different stakeholders in one of the most ecologically sensitive and important regions of the world will improve collaborative conservation efforts built upon both scientific and sociocultural knowledge. This is a particularly critical time for such research to be conducted as it will prove useful in creating an open forum during the transition of Posada Amazonas Lodge from its current joint ownership to 100% local ownership. This research will help coming changes in management reflect current stakeholder views.

Student: Jen Ang
Faculty: John Krosnick
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Public Attitudes on Global Warming
Department: Communication & Political Science

This project examines the potential impact of natural scientists straying beyond their own areas of expertise when making public statements about global warming. Specifically, the project team will test the hypothesis that when natural science experts make recommendations about what political processes would be implemented to address climate change, the scientists reduce their own apparent credibility in the eyes of the public, because the scientists are willing to make assertions in arenas in which they are not expert. Additionally, the team will simulate the 2012 presidential election by showing participants videos of President Obama and Mitt Romney talking about climate change, to gauge the likely impact of the issue on voting.

Student: Jordan Pratt
Faculty: Noah Diffenbaugh
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Effects of Large-Scale Solar Installations on Dust Mobilization and Air Quality
Department: Environmental Earth System Science

The goal of this project is to study the effects of large-scale solar projects on regional dust mobilization and air quality.  To do this, the team will analyze aerosol product data from NASA's Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) at annual and seasonal time intervals near fifteen photovoltaic and solar thermal stations ranging from 5-200MW (12-4,942 acres) in size.  The stations are distributed over eight different countries and were chosen based on size, location and installation date; most of the installations are large-scale, took place in desert climates and were installed between 2006 and 2010.  The project will also consider air quality measurements of particulate matter between 2.5 and 10 micrometers (PM10) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitoring sites near and downwind from the project installations in the the U.S.  The team will use monthly wind data from the NOAA's National Center for Atmospheric Prediction (NCEP) Global Reanalysis to select the stations downwind from the installations, and then perform statistical analysis on the data to identify any significant changes in dust and air quality.

Student: Natalie Luu
Faculty: Brian Knutson
Year Funded: 2012
Research: Adapting Neuroeconomics Principles to the Study of Environmental Decision-Making
Department: Psychology

This project utilizes behavioral and fMRI research methods to adapt neuroeconomics principles to the study of decision-making on environmental issues. Specifically, this project addresses two broad questions. First, can neuroimaging inform our understanding of how people route and process information in decision tasks on environmental issues? Improved understanding of the neural basis of environmental valuation can improve the design of educational and policy initiatives that foster long-term ecological planning. Second, can neuroimaging help formulate a predictive model of population-level behavior in environmental valuation decisions? With this understanding, the team hopes to build a predictive model which allows us to predict choice based purely on neural data, using a new fMRI data analysis technique in Knutson's lab called regularized regression.