Lindsay Barbieri, PhD student in the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, received a Switzer Environmental Fellowship to support her research studies to monitor complex agricultural systems and determine strategies for mitigating environmental impacts and adapting to a changing climate.
Barbieri’s $15,000 award from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation is one of twenty given out in 2018 to highly talented graduate students in New England and California. The fellowship goes to students whose work focuses on improving the environment and who demonstrate strong leadership in their field.
A graduate fellow of UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment, Barbieri works with Carol Adair, assistant professor in the Rubenstein School and a Gund faculty fellow. Barbieri spends much of her time in the field talking with farmers and collecting biophysical data on agricultural soil, water, vegetation, and greenhouse gas emissions. With a background in remote sensing and the use of satellite imagery to search for signs of climate change on Mars, she is now exploring the use of emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial systems (drones), to improve environmental monitoring capabilities in Vermont related to climate change.
“Collecting and sharing information has always been vital for making agricultural management decisions, so the use of new technologies to help access and manage relevant information is understandably increasing all over the world,” says Barbieri, who recently wrote a prize winning blog post on leveraging Big Data in agriculture for climate change mitigation. “So far, the focus has mostly been on using information technologies to help increase agricultural yields, efficiency, or adaptive capacity. I’m excited to be using these same technologies to collect much needed data on agricultural soil and greenhouse gas emissions and to figure out ways to better support environmental sustainability at the same time.”
With a deep appreciation for the complicated nature of sustainable development, Barbieri is also pursuing a graduate certificate in ecological economics and works to address important justice and equity concerns in technology use in her research and beyond. She collaborates with several interdisciplinary teams at UVM and with colleagues through the Earth Science Information Partners and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security to address broader opportunities and challenges in information technology use in social-ecological systems research and governance.
Barbieri plans to forge ahead with actionable scientific research at the interface of agriculture, climate change, and information technology upon completion of her PhD. The fellowship provides her with professional development and grant opportunities, leadership training, and access to a network of Switzer Fellowship alums.
Rubenstein School PhD alum Michael Wironen, a former Gund graduate fellow, received a Switzer Fellowship in 2016.
More information on the 2018 class of Switzer Fellows and the Fellowship program is available on the Foundation website at http://www.switzernetwork.org/become-fellow/2018-switzer-fellows.