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Student Sustainability Research Award Winner Series: Meet Derek Lichtner

This is the third in our four-part series celebrating winners of student sustainability research prizes co-sponsored by Gale-Cengage Learning and the university libraries at Temple University and the University of Delaware.

The prizes, and this blog, are supported by GREENR (Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources), an interdisciplinary web portal and database for environmental and sustainability studies, available at participating libraries (including the University of Delaware and Temple University) worldwide. GREENR is a valuable asset for any student, researcher or instructor focused on the field of environmental and sustainability studies, offering impressive assets in academic journals, news, video, statistics, primary source documents and case studies. Check to see if GREENR is available at your library, or ask your librarian to request a free trial.

Derek Lichtner was honored with a Library Prize for Undergraduate Research on Sustainability and the Environment at Temple University for “Can the Global Economy Afford to Preserve Biodiversity?”

We asked David via email some questions about how he became interested in environmental and sustainability studies, about advice she can give to other environmental studies students, and about his future plans. For more stories about what it’s like to be an environmental and sustainability studies student, please check out our on-going series, The Life of an Environmental Studies Student.

What got you interested in environmental and sustainability studies in college? Tell us about how you became engaged in sustainability in your college career?

I switched my major to Geology and so immediately became surrounded by environmental science students and environmental issues. Also, in my new major, I learned a lot of science that is applicable to current sustainability issues. In particular, I enrolled in Dr. Laura Toran’s Climate Change: Oceans and Atmosphere class, where I learned a great deal about what the Earth’s ancient climates can teach us about the present climate problem, among other interesting things.

Do you have any advice for future environmental and sustainability studies students? For your peers at other universities, or at your own university?

My advice is twofold: First, don’t be afraid of math, and second, don’t be afraid of writing either. Environmental science encompasses many disciplines: geology, chemistry, physics, biology, economics, policy, and others I’m surely forgetting. To truly understand what’s going on in, say, a contaminant spill, you must understand the underlying geology, the chemistry of the contaminants and their reactions with the geology, the physics of the flow of the chemicals, the possible effects to local ecology, the amount of money it’s going to take to put everything right…and of course, you have to be able to articulate your thoughts well so that people take notice—and care about the issue. In reality, there are specialists for each of these areas, but often the environmental scientist is the person who puts it all together.

What are your plans after graduation? Do you hope to enter a field where you can use what you’ve learned about the environment?

I plan to attend graduate school and study geophysics, with which one can analyze the underlying geology by less intrusive, more cost-effective methods than traditional bore holes, etc. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but working with groundwater fracture-flow is one possibility among many.

Posted on: December 14, 2011, 9:00 am Category: GREENR News, The Life of an Environmental Studies Student Tagged with: , ,

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