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Translational Science Fellowship Winners
By Stephanie Doster | July 12, 2007
The Institute for the Study of Planet Earth would like to congratulate the following five winners of a Translational Science Fellowship in Environment, Water, Land and Natural Resource Sciences:
Select the winners' names to learn more about their projects.
Janick Artiola, an associate professor and water quality specialist in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science
Diane Austin, an associate research anthropologist in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology
Eric Betterton, professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Katherine Hirschboeck, associate professor in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
Thomas Sheridan, a research anthropologist and professor in the Southwest Center
ISPE is host to projects funded by the Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) of the Translational Environmental Research (TER) at The University of Arizona. The Translational Science Fellows program, funded by TRIF, is intended to provide a mechanism for two-way collaboration between Cooperative Extension and other researchers on campus so that Arizona can more fully realize the benefits offered by UA's expertise in the environmental, water, land, and natural resource sciences. The purpose of the fellowship is to enable scientists to perform preliminary research and develop a proposal that will be submitted to an appropriate funding agency.
TRIF Translational Environmental Research is funding the projects proposed by Austin, Hirschboeck, and Sheridan. The research by Artiola and Betterton is co-funded by TER and the TRIF Water Sustainability Program through the UA Water Resource Research Center.
Building a citizen science program to analyze arsenic and lead levels in fruits and vegetables grown in Arizona gardens
Due to the geology and environment of the Southwest, inorganic arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) are present in soil and water, often exceeding regulatory limits. Exposed geologic materials with high concentrations of these two elements may also be easily transported via wind and water to residential areas. Recent scientific research suggests that human health, especially for newborns and small children, may be adversely affected by exposure to lower levels of As and Pb than previously believed. There is a lack of information regarding which commonly grown fruits and vegetables species in Arizona gardens uptake As and Pb more than others. A citizen science program could help fill this research gap. This fellowship will allow specialists to meet with members of the Urban/Home Horticulture Working Group, travel to each of the ten Arizona counties that have Master Gardener programs, identify people who may wish to participate in this citizens science program via neighborhood associations and community gardens, and apply for a National Science Foundation grant. Using Arizona master gardeners to conduct research will provide direct access to what is currently being grown and an audience who will pay attention to the results and serve as a conduit to other community members in the state.
SE Arizona CURE Project
The purpose of this project is to work with Santa Cruz County and the Southeastern Arizona Area Cooperative Extension to develop proposals to establish the Southeastern Arizona Capturing and Using Resources Effectively (SE Arizona CURE) project. The project specifically will target consumers with high energy and/or water demands; low- and middle-income households, small business, and non-profit organization; and the city and county governments and institutions that govern resource use and management in the region. Recent efforts to expand Arizona's capacity to take better advantage of natural resources such as the sun and water have pointed to the need to understand and address the concerns and needs of Arizona's residents, leaders, and businesses. Household and business level projects such as the installation of rainwater catchment systems and community level projects such as the development of the policies and infrastructure needed for advancing solar technologies require human as well as physical resources. The SE Arizona CURE project will build upon the interest and dedication of residents and community leaders to identify specific local needs, opportunities, and constrained and to develop mechanisms to address these.
Vapor phase chlorinated compounds: Phase 2
This project is designed to help write a grant application for the second phase of research focusing on the destruction of vapor phase chlorinated compounds. In Phase 1, researchers from the UA Superfund Program's Project 6, headed by Professor Betterton, designed, installed, and operated a catalytic converter to treat 100 cubic feet (CFM) per minute perchloroethylene (PCE) laden soil vapor at the Park/Euclid State Superfund Site. Following the success of Phase 1, Phase 2 will involve scaling up the catalytic converter system to treat several hundred cfm soil vapor at a Superfund site in Phoenix, and relocating the pilot plant to the UA's Page Ranch landfill to test the system on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs, for which there are no commercially viable treatment technologies available, are a major soil vapor contaminant for this site. If the catalytic converter proves successful on CFCs, it could create a new market for this technology, and the Page Ranch system would be converted to solar power because it is off the grid.
Translating climate variability information for use by watershed managers through process-sensitive upscaling
After years of regional drought, punctuated by intermittent extreme flood events, watershed managers in Arizona are acutely aware that climate variability poses a challenge for their management decisions. Many are eager to find ways to incorporate information on global and regional climatic variability into their operational activities, but are faced with a lack of practical tools designed for their specific watershed. This project involves an approach called process-sensitive upscaling to better translate climate variability information to a manager's specific watershed of concern. The goal of this approach is to communicate information about climate change and hydroclimatic variability using a probabilistic and watershed-specific framework that matches the needs and operations setting of the watershed manager. The goals of the fellowship are 1) to compile a prototype dataset of hydroclimatically classified streamflow records for a selected subset of watersheds and link the classified streamflow records to characteristic circulation patterns for both flood and drought extreme events; 2) conceptualize appropriate translational tools for communicating the compiled information; 3) consult with specialists to investigate appropriate database design, web services, and tools; 4) write a proposal that incorporates the results from the project and includes one or more examples of "proof-of-concept" translational science tools that effectively communicate water-shed-specific information about climate change and hydroclimatic variability to watershed managers.
Altar Wash Restoration Project
This project is designed to respond to and expand efforts by the non-profit Altar Valley Conservation Alliance (AVCA) to restore the Altar Valley watershed. The Altar Valley stretches from Highway 86 to the U.S.-Mexico border, and encompasses nearly 610,000 acres of high desert grassland. During the earlier twentieth century, drought, fire suppression, overgrazing, and fuelwood cutting led to the entrenchment of Altar Wash and its tributaries. Today, runoff surges down the arroyo and out of the valley, lowering water tables and threatening Highway 86 and communities like Marana downstream. Bank erosion has eaten away hundreds of acres of riparian habitat, claiming about seven additional acres each year. The project will involve evaluating studies and work completed by the AVCA, developing and submitting grant proposal to expand the AVCA's efforts to heal erosion and gullying in upland drainages, and developing and submitting grant proposals to raise matching funds for Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation proposed $4 million Alter Valley Watershed Restoration Project, which is being considered for inclusion in the 2008 Bond package.