SEATTLE - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Science to Achieve Results or STAR fellowships for environmental and public health research to three graduate students at Oregon State University, Portland State University, and Oregon Health and Science University. STAR graduate fellows are selected from a large number of applications in a highly competitive review process. Master’s students are awarded up to $88,000 over two years and PhD students are awarded up to $132,000 over three years to support their graduate research.
Oregon State University
Christina Murphy, PhD research: Managing Hydropower Reservoir Levels to Protect Salmon
The majority of Pacific Northwest hydropower dams form large reservoirs on rivers that support threatened and endangered Salmon. However, these habitats and the effects of reservoir management also have tradeoffs for hydropower and aquatic ecology. This research will use field data and models of reservoir ecology to explore how managing reservoir water levels and volume changes may affect food webs, reservoir productivity, salmon growth and survival, and water quality.
Portland State University
James Powell, PhD research: Studying Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Effects on Dolphins and Humans
This research uses data from dolphins to develop a model for assessing adverse human health impacts of exposures to endocrine disrupting compounds. Because the rate and pattern of bone formation is affected by environmental exposures, bone density could provide a record of an animal’s chronic exposure to environmental contaminants and serve as a model for similar effects that would be expected in humans under similar exposure conditions. This research will use custom-designed ultrasound devices to assess coastal ecosystem health and establish the bone density of live, free-ranging, and stranded or beachcast dolphins.
Oregon Health and Science University - Portland State University School of Public Health
Kathryn Fankhauser, master’s research: Using Drones to Study Environmental and Public Health
Environmental monitoring in remote areas can be constrained by resource-intensive fieldwork. Drone technology, however, can offer rapid, reliable data collection and processing. This research will develop an unmanned aerial system to assess the environmental impact of a public health program in Rwanda. This research will increase the capacity of a disadvantaged country to monitor development projects and evaluate environmental outcomes. This technology can then be customized for different areas and applications.
Since the STAR Fellowship Program began more than 20 years ago, graduate fellows have engaged in innovative research opportunities leading some to become prominent leaders in environmental science. The program has awarded nearly 2000 students a total of more than $65 million in funding since 1995. This year’s STAR Fellows are poised to become the next generation of environmental professionals who can make significant impacts in environmental science and beyond.
Learn more about the STAR fellows at: https://www.epa.gov/research-fellowships/graduate-research-internship-program-grip-opportunities-epa.