After a highly competitive review process, SustainUS is proud to announce the winners of our 2012 Citizen Science paper competition for research related to biological diversity. The winning papers will appear in Consilience: the Journal of Sustainable Development, a global journal for sustainable development produced by Columbia University. In addition, the authors of the winning papers will be invited to present their research at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, India in October 2012.
The first place for graduate research is awarded to Marla Goodman for her paper, “Bird Watch: The Politics of Wind Developers and Bird Conservationists.” Marla is a graduate student at The School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego, where specializes in environmental policy issues with an emphasis on China and Southeast Asia. Prior to beginning her degree, Marla lived in Shanghai for two years where she studied Mandarin and completed a sustainable development focused internship with Cisco Systems.This summer, she is working with The GreenAsia Group, an environmental consulting firm in Singapore. Her paper analyzes the strategies employed by the American Bird Conservancy to oppose the development of wind power in the United States.
The first place for undergraduate research is awarded to Alix Generous for her paper, "Environmental Threats on the Symbiotic Relationship of Coral Reefs and Quorum Sensing." Alix is a molecular biology and neuroscience major at the University of Charleston and a researcher for the Medical University of South Carolina. Her paper focuses on environmental threats and how they affect cell-to-cell communication within a coral bacterial system, specifically focusing on quorum sensing. Quorum sensing is a form of bacterial communication known to coordinate gene expression in bacteria dependent population density. The coral’s use of quorum sensing offers insight into mechanisms that microbiological communities use to promote reef health and could help explain why reef health is dependent on the diversity and density of microorganisms. Alix plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the field of neuropsychopharmacology and to establish a molecular foundation for treatment of bipolar disorder. She also intends to continue to work on sustainability projects and research focusing on preserving endangered species of tigers and primates.
The second place for undergraduate research is awarded to Kensey Berry for her paper, “Epistemological Implications of Gaia Theory." Kensey is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania, double majoring in philosophy and environmental science. After examining the existing anthropocentric heuristic that underlies international climate policy, such as the Kyoto protocol, her paper suggests the adoption of an alternative strategy, guided by James Lovelock's Gaia Theory. She argues that Gaian thinking—comparing the Earth to a living organism rather than a static machine—is constructive when applied both retrospectively to evolutionary theory and progressively to discussions of effective climate policy. This research considers the aptness of these two cases specifically in order to demonstrate Gaia’s more general capacity to contribute to future scientific understanding. In addition to her scholarship, Kensey works at Community Energy Inc. marketing rooftop solar systems and renewable energy credits to residential and commercial customers.