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Environmental Studies and Sciences


Recent Grants to Support the Environmental Studies and Sciences Program

The National Science Foundation has awarded Skidmore a $550,000 grant for a two-year project to establish the new Skidmore Analytics Interdisciplinary Laboratory (SAIL). Cathy Gibson, Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies and Sciences (ESS) was the PI on the grant, along with Co-PI's Kim Frederick from Chemistry, Josh Ness from Biology & ESS, David Domozych from Biology and Heather Hurst from Anthropology, however SAIL will enrich and transform the diverse research of nine different faculty members from biology, environmental studies and sciences, chemistry and anthropology as well as offer a wealth of opportunities to students. This grant will allow us to acquire a suite of instruments suitable for elemental analysis (atomic absorption and x-ray fluorescence), ion analysis (ion chromatograph), molecular analysis (infrared spectroscopy and gas chromatography mass spectrometry) as well as direct functional analysis (a CO2 and H20 gas analyzer). This suite of instruments will allow us to acquire diverse sets of data including temporal and spatial variation of dissolved species in aquatic and terrestrial environments, composition and spatial variation of complex polymers in cell walls, ion penetration of polyelectrolyte multilayer materials, bioavailability of heavy metals, identification of inorganic and organic synthesis products, and analysis of plaster and pigments in Maya murals. In providing shared technology to address basic and applied questions that link composition with the structure and function of biological, chemical and anthropological systems, SAIL will have a transformative effect on research that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. 

The Educational Foundation of America has awarded Skidmore a $140,000 grant for a three-year pilot project designed to strengthen environmental initiatives on campus. The grant will allow Skidmore to hire a campus sustainability coordinator who will work with the College's Facilities Department and Environmental Studies and Sciences Program on projects to reduce energy consumption and to increase environmental awareness among students, faculty, and staff.

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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Skidmore a $300,000 grant to strengthen our rapidly growing ESS Program and the Water Resources Initiative (WRI), which is administered through the ESS Program. The Mellon grant has allowed us to hire an ESS Program Coordinator and Lecturer who will, among other things, increase the visibility of the ESS program and WRI by coordinating outreach activities, materials, and environmentally-related campus events to build community and synergy within the ESS program. The grant also allowed us to hire a half-time administrative assistant, a position critical to maintaining organization in our growing program. Mellon funds will also provide essential equipment and supplies for WRI research and help cover the costs associated with our national and international WRI field trips.

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The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
 have generously supported the WRI by providing funds to hire an environmental natural scientist. This hire will make critical contributions to not only WRI but also to our growing ESS Program at Skidmore College by providing interdisciplinary courses and research opportunities for our students. The Arthur Vining Davis grant has also provided much needed funds for research, including summer research stipends, room and board for students as well as research equipment and supplies. 

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The Rathmann Family Foundation has supported the growth of the ESS Program at Skidmore College through grants totaling $260,000 over the past 5 years. The Foundation's most recent contribution enabled us to hire a technologist for our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center for Interdisciplinary Research. GIS is a computer mapping technology that is critical to exploring environmental issues. Past support from the Rathmann Family Foundation helped support the expansion of the ESS Program from an academic minor into the full-blown interdisciplinary academic major. Among other initiatives, Rathmann funding has supported the development of numerous environmentally related courses, student/faculty collaborative research opportunities, student/faculty travel to professional conferences, and the acquisition of field equipment needed for both courses and independent research projects in ESS.

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