Emily Sturdivant, of Seattle, named Marsh-Mosakowski NOAA Fellow at Clark University

Senior will study salmon habitat in Idaho

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Emily Sturdivant

WORCESTER, MA (07/16/2012)(readMedia)-- Clark University student Emily J. Sturdivant, of Seattle, is conducting research in Idaho river basins, with a focus on Pacific salmon, thanks to a partnership between two Clark institutes and the federal agency charged with watching over the health of our skies and oceans.

Sturdivant is one of only five students to be named a 2012 Marsh-Mosakowski NOAA Fellow. The fellowship program, which includes generous summer research stipends, was established this year by Clark's George Perkins Marsh Institute and Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sturdivant's research project is titled "The Importance of Pacific Salmon and Their Marine-Derived Nutrients in Salmon River Basin Streams of Idaho." Her research entails moving from camp site to camp site at streams where her team sets up nutrient indicators and collects insects. They are conducting pre-spawning sampling in July, and in September another group will return to the sites to gather the post-spawning samples. "There is a huge emphasis on the spawning period of the Chinook salmon because they are the basis behind the whole study," she writes. "When the Chinook return from the ocean to spawn and die, what nutrients do they contribute to the ecosystems and what effects does that have on the low trophic levels?"

In July 2011 Sturdivant was a member of The Polaris Project: Rising Stars in the Arctic field course team, studying arctic systems with some of the top scientists in the field. Professor Karen Frey of the Clark Geography Department and a co-principal investigator of The Polaris Project is her faculty mentor. Her current project builds on that experience, she says.

Sturdivant began her Idaho research in early June and has "already been tuned into exciting new worlds. Not just the world of quirky scientists, but of the intricate life on the bottom of every good-sized rock in a stream."

Sturdivant, who majors in geography, will be a senior this fall at Clark, where she is also a Presidential Scholar and president of the Eco-Reps student sustainability organization. She graduated in 2009 from The Center School, in Seattle.

"I can't wait to bring my experience back to Clark to develop the research further as I head into my senior and master's thesis," adds Sturdivant, who plans to participate in Clark's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program (with the fifth year tuition-free for eligible students).

At a spring-semester reception for the 2012 NOAA fellows, Mosakowski Institute Director James Gomes noted that their work illustrates the perfect union of research and practice. The partnership, he said, was the result partly of a visit to Clark last year by top NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, who spoke about strides that have been made, as well as the ongoing challenges, in developing a sustainable future.

Professor Robert Johnston, director of the Marsh Institute, said the NOAA partnership links Clark students with scientists and peer-to-peer researchers from around the country. Johnston noted the program is emblematic of the University's adoption of Liberal Education and Effective Practice, which deepens students' education by combining classroom learning with real-world engagement. "This is the sort of thing that LEEP is all about," he said.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark's faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University's motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.