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School of the Environment

Mark Swanson 2017 Arete Award recipient

Mark E. Swanson has been awarded the 2017 Arete Award for Outstanding Faculty Member for his work since 2014 as a Faculty Fellow with the Washington Alpha Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.  The Arete Awards are presented annually by WSU’s Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, and United Greek Association.  Dr. Swanson’s work with the men of Sigma Phi Epsilon has included motivational talks, group and individual mentoring sessions, special training sessions (outdoors skills, study skills), and career development guidance.

Steve Powers Receives Gene Likens Award for Nature Geoscience Paper

Steve PowersSteve Powers, associate researcher in the School of the Environment, received the Gene Likens Award for last year’s Nature Geoscience paper, “Long-term accumulation and transport of anthropogenic phosphorus in three river basins.” The award “recognizes work conducted by an early career scientist (within five years of receiving a Ph.D.) for work conducted after the completion of graduate school.” A common element in fertilizer, phosphorus often runs into waterways, leading to algae blooms and oxygen-deprived “dead zones.”

Powers was lead author of the Nature Geoscience paper, a landmark in estimating on a large scale how phosphorus flows through the environment over many decades.

https://news.wsu.edu/insider/2017/10/17/wsu-researchers-honored-by-ecological-society-of-america/

 

Cornelius Adewale, doctoral student is awarded Bullitt Foundation Environmental Prize

Sustainable farming pioneer wins Bullitt Prize

Bullitt Environmental Prize winner Cornelius Adewale sifts soil in his laboratory. The third WSU winner of the prize in the past six years, Adewale is advised by Associate Professor Lynne Carpenter-Boggs (Seth Truscott/WSU Photo).
Bullitt Environmental Prize winner Cornelius Adewale sifts soil in his laboratory. The third WSU winner of the prize in the past six years, Adewale is advised by Associate Professor Lynne Carpenter-Boggs (Seth Truscott/WSU Photo).

Cornelius Adewale, doctoral student and sustainable agriculture pioneer at Washington State University’s School of the Environment, is the winner of the 11th Annual Bullitt Environmental Prize, the Bullitt Foundation announced today.

The Bullitt Prize recognizes people with extraordinary potential to become powerful and effective leaders in the environmental movement.

Adewale’s research focuses on improving the environmental impact of agriculture. He is developing tools farmers can use to evaluate farming practices, so they can store more carbon, reduce chemical fertilizers, and produce more food.

“Without food in their bellies, people have no time for anything else,” said Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and first national organizer of Earth Day in 1970. “Cornelius is working at the leading edge of research to find ways to produce more food, even as we fight climate change and dramatically reduce the use of pesticides,” he added.

“My grandmother taught me to think big,” Adewale said. “The Bullitt Prize offers me the chance to expand my work to a global scale.”

Raised by his grandmother in rural Nigeria, Adewale turned down a safe job with a steady income to pursue his dreams. After building a successful organic farm outside of Lagos with just $20, he came to Washington State University – home to the first academic major in organic agriculture.

“I am trying to change the way we farm,” said Adewale.

“Cornelius’ work is exactly the type of forward-thinking research we’ve come to measure our college by,” said Ron Mittelhammer, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “He’s an example of how to overcome obstacles, think globally and create positive impacts—this recognition is well-deserved.”

The 2017 Bullitt Prize is being presented to Adewale at an awards banquet in Seattle. Winners receive $100,000 over two years to advance their research.

Adewale is the third WSU recipient of the Bullitt Environmental Prize in the past six years. View a list of winners at http://www.bullitt.org/programs/environmental-fellowship/.

  • Learn more about the Bullitt Foundation here.
  • Learn more about the WSU School of the Environment here.

Sex that moves mountains: Spawning fish can influence river profiles

By Eric Sorensen, WSU News

fish PULLMAN, Wash. – It turns out that sex can move mountains.

A Washington State University researcher has found that the mating habits of salmon can alter the profile of stream beds, affecting the evolution of an entire watershed. His study is one of the first to quantitatively show that salmon can influence the shape of the land.

Alex Fremier, lead author of the study and associate professor in the WSU School of the Environment, said female salmon “fluff” soil and gravel on a river bottom as they prepare their nests, or redds. The stream gravel is then more easily removed by flooding, which opens the underlying bedrock to erosion.

“The salmon aren’t just moving sediment,” said Fremier. “They’re changing the character of the stream bed, so when there are floods, the gravel is more mobile.” More…..

Gases from ancient Inland Northwest volcanic eruptions blocked out sun, cooling planet

By Eric Sorensen, WSU News

Palouse FallsPULLMAN, Wash. – The Pacific Northwest was home to one of the Earth’s largest known volcanic eruptions, a millennia-long spewing of sulfuric gas that blocked out the sun and cooled the planet, Washington State University researchers have determined.

Only two other eruptions — the basalt floods of the Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps — were larger, and they led to two of the Earth’s great extinctions.

“This would have been devastating regionally because of the acid-rain effect from the eruptions,” said John Wolff, a professor in the WSU School of the Environment. “It did have a global effect on temperatures, but not drastic enough to start killing things, or it did not kill enough of them to affect the fossil record.” More….

Food and Fear

Dr. Lisa Shipley and Dr. Janet Rachlow, Professor, Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Idaho,were featured on the National Science Foundation website for their research on “Food and Fear: Modeling animal tradeoffs shaped by landscape Complexity.”

The Geo Analytical Lab Scores New Gear

The GeoAnalytical Lab was recently awarded funding from NSF to buy a new X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. The NSF review panel was particularly enthusiastic about the award, referring to the GeoAnalytical Lab as ‘a valuable national resource’, “the foundational core of geochemical research in the United States’, and ‘a national treasure’ in their reviews of the proposal. The new machine was delivered to the GeoAnalytical Lab on 29 September, and should be fully operational within the next couple of months.