Research EVES Specialization [ biological and environmental sciences m.s., ph.d. ]


Remote Sensing and Mapping

Faculty: WangSavage, Pradhanang, Parent
Specialization CoordinatorDawn Cardace

Members of the remote sensing and mapping research group utilize terrestrial and satellite remote sensing, geophysical techniques, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and modeling to analyze natural resources and environmental systems.

Land Use and Landscape dynamics: Of particular interest are the assessment and modeling of the dynamics of landscape and land-cover/land-use change, and the effects of such changes on environments, ecosystems and natural resources.

GIS Mapping and Analysis: Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques and models are used to investigate habitat mosaics, design conservation networks to protect biodiversity, integrate GIS data and satellite imagery, and assess relationships between geomorphology and biological diversity.

Seismology / Imaging: See Geosciences

Research projects have supported scientific studies in various regions of the United States, in East and West Africa, locally in Rhode Island, the western Pacific, East Coast of North America, tectonic North America and in various regions in China.

Earth as a system

Faculty:  Cardace, Parent, Pradhanang, Savage, Wang

Specialization Coordinator: Dawn Cardace

Planet Earth has a complex and layered rocky interior, a rapidly changing continental surface and global ocean, and an evolving atmospheric blanket. We use digital tools to (i) model forces active in Earth (tectonics), (ii) observe important, contemporary transformations of the Earth’s surface, and (iii) test the habitable limits of Earth’s past and future environments.

(i) Coding techniques allow us to resolve tectonic structures within the solid Earth and the rigid shell of the lithosphere (crust and upper mantle) through seismic waveform modeling in 1, 2 and 3 dimensions. Of particular interest are highly complex and unusual seismic signals resulting from exotic sources and/or complex seismic wave propagation; massively parallel computers housed in URI-Geosciences and at supercomputing centers around the world facilitate this novel work.

(ii) We monitor ecosystem-scale aspects of the modern Earth using remote sensing and mapping tools; in particular, we use Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques and models to investigate habitat mosaics, design conservation networks to protect biodiversity, integrate GIS data and satellite imagery, and assess relationships between geomorphology and biological diversity. Of particular interest are the assessment and modeling of the dynamics of landscape and land-cover/land-use change, and the effects of such changes on environments, ecosystems, and natural resources.

(iii) In broad strokes, habitable environments rely on water availability, free energy, carbon resources, and sheltered conditions: we evaluate water-rock systems in terms of their intrinsic capacity to support life. Current investigations into the deep biosphere on Earth are showing life persists to kilometers below the planetary surface, and extraterrestrial habitats are likely in subsurface ultramafics and/or oceans. Research examines biogeochemical processes in energy-poor environments, such as cool, dark, low energy settings in deep sea sediments and ophiolites undergoing alteration, and considers their importance to biogeochemical cycling, the origin of life on Earth, and astrobiology.

→Individual faculty research interests: GIS, remote sensing, forest management,  seismology, geophysics, plate tectonics, geochemical modeling to chart the extent of deep bio-geosphere interactions.

Environmental Ecology

Faculty: Cardace, Couret, Meyerson, Moseman-Valtierra

Specialization Coordinator: Dawn Cardace

Biological interactions on a dynamic Earth respond to changing environmental parameters and stresses, and a systems approach to studying change can be compelling. We work to understand the impacts of large scale environmental changes on communities of organisms in soils, critical zone sites, and the solid Earth.

→Individual faculty research interests: invasive alien species, restoration ecology, plant-insect interactions, plant defense, global change, carbon and nitrogen cycling over short and long terms, methane and greenhouse gas production through Earth-life interactions.

water and environmental hydrology

Faculty:  Boving, Cox, Pradhanang, Russoniello, Savage, Veeger, Wang

Specialization Coordinator: Dawn Cardace

The water and environmental hydrology group works to address the critical water resource questions of the 21st century, including water availability, water quality, and interactions between natural systems and human impacts. Ensuring a supply of potable water to meet the 21st century needs of the world guides our research on the impact of land-use and watershed features on water quality. We are interested in the flow of water within the soil, subsurface, and underlying bedrock, and in mixing environments including coastal areas, with keen attention to improving access to high quality water for all. To that end, we examine the effects of land use and natural features on water quality and river flow regimes, with particular focus on elemental cycling in mixed-use watersheds. Outreach and extension activities targeted at local efforts to restore and protect watershed quality are a strong component. A major component of our program involves engaging with local communities, interest groups and regulatory agencies to leverage science-based best practices to restore and protect watershed quality.  Holistic approaches to managing water infrastructure, and how this impacts communities and local water quality, are also a key focus area.

→Individual faculty research interests: the fate and transport of contaminants, innovative remediation strategies, aqueous geochemistry, hydrology, isotope systems, coastal processes, Arctic systems,  water quality, modeling, wetlands, watershed science, surface water-groundwater interactions, urban stormwater management, watershed management, reservoir hydrodynamics, contaminant transport, numerical modeling of groundwater flow, drought modeling and water allocation, groundwater methane fluxes, saltwater intrusion studies using geophysical measurements and modeling, seashell-based filtration strategies for water resource remediation, floating wetland treatment systems, water quality, wastewater treatment, sustainable development, water infrastructure enhancements.

Science Communication

Faculty: Cardace, Couret, Diamond, Jones, Karraker, Menezes, Moore, Treviño Peña
Specialization Coordinator: Dawn Cardace

We examine how relationships between STEM and diverse audiences impact our individual and collective literacies, creativity, and decision-making capacities in addressing environmental problems. In and beyond the classroom, we work to clarify how science is created, communicated, and applied to approach environmental concerns, what different audiences and stakeholders need from scientists and policymakers, how to develop and apply scientific findings in the most effective, inclusive ways, and which social elements need to be prioritized in the doing/communicating/applying of environmental science in our world.

→Individual faculty research interests: inclusive teaching and engagement strategies, enhancing the role of service learning in higher education classrooms, climate change communication, environmental crisis communication, community-engaged science communication, equitable knowledge production, rhetorical field methods, multimodal production, antiracist and anticolonial praxis, science journalism and media.

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