NSF grant will support international climate research by Professor Rider

The new grant funding will deepen an ongoing collaboration with scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of St. Andrews and develop new relationships with scientists in Australia and New Zealand.

Due to its international collaborators, this project will not involve much field work directly for Druckenbrod. But it will provide an opportunity, he says, to apply new scientific approaches and methods while gleaning information from existing samples and collections.

“Tree rings have traditionally been assessed by measuring their width, which gives a lot of information about the past environment,” says Druckenbrod. “We are now looking at how they absorb and reflect light – a different way of accessing or quantifying a climate signal.”

Three Rider students will assist Druckenbrod with primary data analysis as he progresses into new territory: Robby Arpaio, a marine science student, Stessie Chounoune, an environmental science student, and Gabby Banyacski, a student in second year in environmental sciences.

The three-year scope of the project will give these students the opportunity to conduct research over an extended period of time in collaboration with leading research institutions like Columbia. Their involvement may also include work on publications and conference presentations.

“I still don’t know exactly what I want from a career, but I know I care about the environment,” says Banyacski, who is also a member of Rider’s Green Team, a group of student volunteers who work to improve the campus. “I’m really excited to be able to find out what research can be and see if it’s something I want to pursue. It’s possible that I could live this project from start to finish.”

Druckenbrod has been collaborating with other scientists since he began studying the environment at the University of Virginia, where he earned a Ph.D. in 2003. He has worked closely with partners at major historic sites around the world. eastern United States, including Monticello and Mount Vernon, which were the agricultural plantations of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, respectively.

The importance of scientific collaboration, says Druckenbrod, continues to grow. “The problems we have to tackle are so complex and involve so many disciplines that they are best solved with a team of scientists. At Rider, collaboration is also a great way for students to bond. »

The imperative to act to solve climate change has been evident to Druckenbrod since he was a graduate student. “There has always been an urgency, but it has increased over the past two decades,” he says. “We have reached the point where the effects of climate change are more evident and more pronounced than ever. Personally, it motivates me both as a researcher and a teacher not only to contribute to science, but also to help people understand how the world is changing. There is a great opportunity to make a difference. »

Earnest L. Veasey