Michael Wironen, PhD student in UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, received a Switzer Fellowship to support his studies at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.
Wironen’s $15,000 award from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation is one of twenty given out in 2016 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 clear leadership in their field.
Wironen, who holds a master’s degree in sustainability science from Lund University in Sweden and a bachelor’s degree in physical geography from McGill University, is part of the Gund Insitute’s Economics for the Anthropocene project, a collaboration between UVM, McGill, and York University. With a multi-disciplinary background in sustainable development, environmental planning and ecological design, Wironen is currently exploring how to help Vermont policymakers identify new solutions to reduce phosphorus pollution from agricultural sources.
His work examines how farm systems vary in their phosphorus use, contribution to Vermont’s economy, and impact on water quality. Ultimately, he will identify policies to support the transition toward alternative agricultural production systems, for example pasture-based dairy, that are both ecologically and economically viable for the state.
“I’m excited to have the chance to meet and collaborate with other Switzer Fellows, most of whom are focused on taking the best academic knowledge and using it to make change in the world.” says Wironen, a former senior sustainability specialist at an international environmental consulting firm.
The fellowship also provides Wironen, who plans to either join or start a “think-do” tank upon completion of his PhD, with leadership training, access to a network of Switzer Fellowship alums, grant opportunities, and professional development.