Three UC Davis students named Switzer environmental fellows
University of California, Davis
August 6, 2010
Three UC Davis graduate students – Karrigan Bork, Kristy Deiner, and Matthew Hamilton – have been awarded prestigious fellowships for outstanding environmental scholarship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. Twenty-one such awards were made to students in California and New England.
“This is a testament to the strength of our environmental programs and to the interdisciplinary nature of UC Davis graduate groups,” said Jan W. Hopmans, associate dean in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “We are grateful to the Switzer Foundation for investing in our students. Sustainable solutions to the environmental challenges the world faces require training and education in a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines, and that’s what draws top students like these to UC Davis.”
“The heart of the Switzer Foundation is about supporting and recognizing environmental leadership, especially individuals who are able to think across traditional disciplinary boundaries and shape the future of environmental science, policy and study,” said Switzer Foundation board chair Ashley Boren. “At a time when environmental issues are more complex, environmental leaders need to have strong communications and policy skills, as well as technical expertise.”
Each student will receive $15,000 to help them complete their degrees and advance skills and expertise needed to address critical environmental challenges. Their work covers a broad range of study.
Environmental lawyer pursuing doctorate
Karrigan Bork, a doctoral candidate in the Ecology Graduate Group, is currently working in the Genomic Variation Laboratory at UC Davis. His dissertation research involves conservation, with a focus on endangered species issues and the listing and reintroduction of salmon trout. Bork spent three years as a Truman Fellow at the U.S. Department of Transportation working on energy policy, climate change, and fuel economy before completing a law degree at Stanford Law School in spring 2009. At Stanford, Karrigan spent two years with the Environmental Law Clinic, litigating cases related to the federal and California endangered species acts. He cofounded and managed the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy to provide an outlet for science-based policy papers.
“Karrigan has a unique background, sandwiching a law degree from Stanford in the middle of dissertation work here at UC Davis,” said faculty adviser Bernie May, an adjunct professor in the Department of Animal Science. “Combining these two educational pursuits with a focus on endangered species law gives him a good perspective to find real-world solutions to environmental issues.”
Alpine conservationist also a filmmaker
Kristy Deiner is a doctoral candidate in the Ecology Graduate Group and is also pursuing a UC Davis certificate in conservation management. Her dissertation research uses genetic tools to assess how species interactions drive evolutionary processes. She is studying the evolutionary impact of introduced fish on alpine lake communities in the Sierra Nevada and in the Alps of Switzerland. Deiner’s conservation management research is focused on which social, biological, and economic pressures predict successful adoption of strategic conservation plans. She is also writing and directing a documentary film about these ecosystems. In the future she hopes to develop an international institute through collaboration with researchers and practitioners that focuses on developing long-term monitoring information for alpine ecosystem management.
“Kristy is a big-picture thinker,” said faculty adviser Bernie May, an adjunct professor in the Department of Animal Science. “She is always coming up with ideas that help organize and streamline processes, and involving others educationally in her work. She believes strongly that public service complements doing good science.”
IAD student drawn to developing countries
Matthew Hamilton, a master’s student in international agricultural development, is interested in environmental and humanitarian applications of emerging geospatial technologies. He leads a team of specialists from several Central American countries in using high-resolution satellite imagery to develop a low-cost technique for gathering environmental and social data on water resources. Hamilton’s work is helping to improve the effectiveness of integrated water resource management projects carried out by the Global Water Initiative, a partnership of local and international nongovernmental organizations. He has spent several years in Latin America working with local stakeholders to improve conservation of natural resources and ecosystem services — as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay and as an agroforestry extension volunteer with the Golden Lion Tamarin Association in Brazil.
“Matt is doing important work to help monitor the outcomes of international environmental development projects in Central America,” said Hamilton’s faculty adviser, environmental sciences and policy professor Mark Lubell. “He is using participatory methods that help gather environmental monitoring data, while at the same time increase environmental knowledge, social capital, and sense of place among rural community citizens and policy stakeholders.”
This is the 24th year of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. Fellowships are merit-based and rigorously competitive. Candidates must be recognized for their leadership capacity by their academic institution or by environmental experts. Applications are evaluated based on demonstration of environmental problem-solving, critical analysis and communication skills, relevant work and volunteer experience, necessary scientific or technical background for their field of study, the applicant’s career goals, and the potential of the candidate to initiate and effect positive environmental change.
Additional information about the Switzer Fellows class of 2010 or the fellowship program is online.
- John Stumbos, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-4979, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ann Filmer, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-6788, email@example.com