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Deborah Lawrence - Sustainability and Climate Change

Science & Engineering
Environmental Science
Supervising Faculty Member: 
Deborah Lawrence
Research Focus: 

The student may work on climate change issues in one of two focal areas: Charlottesville or the Great Lakes Region of East Africa. In the developing world, transportation is the hardest nut to crack in the transition to a clean energy future. Are there steps we can take right now to limit greenhouse gas emissions from transportation? Our goal is to determine the impact of bus engines at UVA on 1) greenhouse gas emissions, 2) air pollution and 3) fuel costs. We will focus on the UTS bus system, examining idling behavior (engine on but going nowhere) and regular operations. We will also consider the effect of idling tour buses and maintenance/service vehicles. We may expand to consider the Charlottesville bus system. In East Africa, our focus is on understanding how well global datasets track current land use and ecosystems and assembling information on how the land is currently managed in terms of planting dates, crop types, and the size of animal herds.

Position Description: 

In Charlottesville, we are interested in understanding the role of buses in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. We may also consider alternatives to buses—what is the wave of the future? We know students will keep taking buses to class, but how will faculty and staff commuters get to the university to work? In East Africa, we are interested in understanding land management--how do countries balance food production with conservation? what are current climate constraints on both? how will it change in the future? In each case, the student would do background research, compile information, and serve as a liaison with a group of scholars, community members and activists interested in our projects.

Skills to be gained: library research including use of academic scientific search engines (with help from the reference librarian); simple data analysis such as using excel to do calculations (I can show you how to use excel); reading maps and data presented in map form; creating graphs, tables, and visuals to explain our research; creating presentations to share our research.

Required Skills: 

being on time, committing to a schedule and following through, being responsive to emails and communicating with me, asking for clarification and help as needed

Computer software: 
excel a plus, graphics program a plus, powerpoint a plus, but no training required
What will you learn: 

formulate a scientific question, collect and analyze data, present results in written and graphic form

Sustainability and Climate change