Trainee Spotlight: Asta Habtemichael

Asta HabtemichaelSTEEP Trainee, Asta Habtemichael, was recently inducted into the inaugural cohort of The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Future Leaders Society as a finalist for the honorary K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. This prestigious award recognizes distinguished graduate students who exhibit strong leadership for the future of higher education based on their commitments to teaching, community outreach and engagement, and the aspects of equity.

 As a rising leader in academia, Habtemichael actively promotes inclusive science and education, particularly for minority and indigenous communities, with aims to preserve core traditional and cultural tenets of those underrepresented communities. Habtemichael recognizes this opportunity as “a great honor and privilege to be inducted into this prestigious society,” and plans to apply his acquired knowledge from professional development with the AAC&U to the communities in which he is actively engaged. He currently serves as the Coordinator and Lead Facilitator for the Diversity and Inclusion Badge Program at the University of Rhode Island and serves on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committees at the Graduate School of Oceanography.

In July, Habtemichael was chosen as one of 20 environmental scholars to receive a Switzer Environmental Fellowship. The prestigious fellowship, a program of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, recognizes promising environmental leaders and provides $17,000 to support their research.

Habtemichael is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Rainer Lohmann’s chemical oceanography lab at the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island studying bioaccumulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in marine food webs. The basis of his research aims to understand environmental interactions PFAS in the lower trophic levels of marine food webs by conducting experiments that allow him to analyze PFAS in phytoplankton and zooplankton species.