EPA awards college students in national water quality challenge

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WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 19, 2014 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has chosen seven undergraduate and graduate student winners for Phase 1 of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS) Campus Challenge, which recognizes exemplary research in the area of water quality and ecosystems.

Announced in February, the NARS Campus Challenge encourages students to develop proposals for research projects that discover innovative ways to use NARS data that focuses on the condition of the nation's rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal areas.

The National Aquatic Resource Surveys are a series of statistically representative surveys conducted by state, tribal and federal partners about the condition of the nation's waters using core indicators and standardized lab and field methods.

In addition to providing national assessments of key waterbody types such as coastal areas, rivers and streams, lakes, and wetlands, NARS also helps to improve the states' capacity for water quality monitoring and assessment.

"The National Aquatic Resource Surveys are helping our states and tribes effectively and accurately monitor the ecological condition of our surface waters, which in turn helps EPA better target program efforts to meet our Clean Water Act (CWA) goals," said Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Water Office.

Accordingly, "These students are working to protect America's surface water resources and bring to this challenge energy, innovative perspectives and cutting-edge knowledge," he said.

Winners of the Phase-1 awards are:

  • Anna Palmer (SUNY-Purchase, New York): Proposal to use statistical analyses for assessing socio-economic factors related to water quality
  • Lauren Reuss (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota): Proposal to develop a new system for identifying the condition of shallow lakes and factors that affect the quality of lake condition such as land use, lake size and depth
  • John Lombardi (SUNY-College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, Syracuse, New York): Proposal to combine citizen science data with National Lakes Assessment (NLA) data
  • Kelly Heber and Lain Dunning (Ph.D. candidates, MIT, Massachusetts): Proposal to link between stakeholder communities and coastal ecosystem health
  • Kevin Meyer (Ph.D. candidate, Iowa State University, Iowa): Proposal to estimate land use effects on water quality using spatial econometrics
  • Amanda Winegardner (Ph.D. candidate, McGill University, Canada): Proposal to explore biological diversity changes across the U.S.
  • James Wood (Ph.D. candidate, University of Georgia, Georgia): Proposal to assess major trends in river plants and measure the bioaccumulation of heavy metals in highly urbanized watersheds

The Phase-1 winners each received an award of $2,000 for their proposals. After completing their proposed work, these students may apply for Phase 2 of the NARS Campus Research Challenge. The Phase-2 winners will be awarded $5,000 each.

See also:

"EPA's Strategy to Protect America's Waters"

"EPA's Clean Water Strategy: What it Means for U.S. Industry"

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