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Three Ph.D. Students Awarded PEI-STEP Fellowships

Three graduate students have been awarded 2014 PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Fellowships by the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI). Among recipients are: Emma Fuller from ecology and evolutionary biology and Cynthia Gerlein and David Pal from civil and environmental engineering.

2014 PEI-STEP Fellows

Emma Fuller
Emma Fuller

Emma Fuller, Ford Fellow

Ph.D. Thesis: Social-Ecological Systems, Fisheries, Foraging Theory

Adviser: David Wilcove, ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: The Ecosystem Effects of Individual Transferable Quotas in US West-Coast Commercial Fisheries
Adviser: Simon Levin, ecology and evolutionary biology

Fuller’s thesis work quantitatively explores how fishermen in the US West Coast groundfish fishery forage for fish using a newly available dataset from the National Marine fisheries Service. “There is an ongoing debate on the best way to manage fisheries, or what it takes to fix fisheries that are overfished. Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) are a recent policy prescription designed to address overfishing. My PEI-STEP project will explore whether ITQs are successful in addressing their ecological management goals and what additional impacts they may have on marine ecosystems. I will examine spatial patterns of fishing effort and catch composition before and after ITQs were put into place in order to identify benefits, unintended consequences, and potential opportunities for improving ITQ efficacy.”

Cynthia Gerlein
Cynthia Gerlein

Cynthia Gerlein, Perkins Fellow

Ph.D. Thesis: Ecohydrology

Adviser: Kelly Caylor, civil and environmental engineering

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: Understanding the Impacts of Policy on Reducing Deforestation in Tropical Forests
Adviser: Denise Mauzerall, civil and environmental engineering at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Gerlein is interested in understanding the role of atmospheric water in tropical environments. For her senior thesis, she is approaching the topic from a scientific perspective focusing on investigating the importance of non-meteoric atmospheric water to the hydraulic function of plants in the tropics. For her PEI-STEP project she is looking at the topic from a policy perspective addressing the question: what is the impact of policy strategies on deforestation rates and could international and national policies found effective in one tropical country be applied to others experiencing rapid deforestation?

Gerlein said, “As a scientist working on the effect of climate change on vegetation, it is important for me to learn how to translate my science into policy.  The PEI-STEP fellowship is an excellent way for me to learn this skill.”

David Pal
David Pal

David Pal, Kelley Fellow

Ph.D. Thesis:  Environmental Engineering and Water Resources - Methane Mitigation from Wetlands

Adviser: Peter Jaffe, civil and environmental engineering at Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

PEI-STEP Environmental Policy Topic: Improving Methane Leakage Mitigation Efforts from Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells
Adviser: Denise Mauzerall, civil and environmental engineering, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

The objective of Pal’s dissertation is to develop the fundamental knowledge of how hydrogen dynamics, vegetation systems, and other physical and chemical processes interact to affect methane production and emissions in wetland systems. Discussing his research he said, “My overall interests lie in using natural phenomena to control methane emissions from wetlands in hopes to make an impact in the overall greenhouse gas balance, melding well with the research proposed for the STEP fellowship. For his PEI-STEP project, Pal is using his expertise in methane dynamics to focus on methane emissions from hydrocarbon exploration and will examine policy options to mitigate these emissions as well as putting them in context with natural emissions. “From this research, we anticipate making recommendations about how to manage and construct wetlands to reduce methane production and emissions globally,” said Pal.

Tag(s): graduate