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Science Wednesday:Rising STARs

2011 September 21

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Aaron Ferster

This week, I had the pleasure of joining a few colleagues to talk about science communication at the 2011 EPA STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference here in Washington, DC. “STAR” stands for Science To Achieve Results, a competitive grant program EPA administers to advance human health and environmental science in support of its mission.

The conference brought together STAR grantees and STAR graduate fellows from colleges and universities across the country to talk shop about their research and learn about how their particular work fits into EPA’s commitment to science and engineering.

“The competitive STAR Fellowship prides itself for attracting, supporting and bolstering the next generation of environmental scientists, engineers and policy makers. In doing so, the program enhances the environmental research and development enterprise, advances green principles and bridges diverse communities that help EPA better meet its mission,” wrote EPA’s William Sanders III, Dr. P.H. in the Awardees Research Portfolio. Dr. Sanders is the Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research, which administers STAR and other EPA grant and awards programs.

Conference attendees included STAR fellow graduate students conducting work in one of eight broad research categories important to EPA: global change, clean air, water quality, human health, ecosystem services, pesticides and toxic substances, science and technology for sustainability, and emerging environmental approaches.

As the editor—and chief cheerleader—for Science Wednesday, I am always thrilled to have the opportunity to meet EPA and partner scientists who are eager to share their work. The conference did not disappoint! While all the students’ topics have intimidating-sounding titles, (here’s one picked entirely at random: Novel Molecular Methods for Probing Ancient Climate Impacts on Plant Communities and Ecosystem Functioning: Implications for the Future), as a group, the STARs were eager to learn about opportunities for sharing their work. Please stayed tuned for updates here on Science Wednesday.

It’s great to see that EPA is supporting the next generation of scientists and engineers while it meets its own mission to protect human health and the environment. Cleary, the STARs are rising.

About the Author: Aaron Ferster is the lead science writer for EPA’s Office of Research and Development and the editor of Science Wednesday.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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29 Responses leave one →
  1. william d. davis permalink
    September 21, 2011

    did you recieve my memo on new system of highways?
    Just submitted? THANK YOU, Bill Davis

  2. Ahmed permalink
    September 21, 2011


  3. John permalink
    September 26, 2011

    It was really great to hear your (and the rest of the panel’s) experience/advice/opinions regarding communicating science to a broader audience!

  4. Julia E. Earl permalink
    September 26, 2011

    The meeting was really great! The best part was that we (STAR Fellows) were encouraged to meet with our congressional representative, which is something I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own. I met Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and had a really great conversation with one of his staff members.

  5. Maxine Prior permalink
    September 26, 2011

    Thank you for supporting us as students, scientists and engineers! It was a fun conference with loads of interesting people working on a wide diversity of research!

  6. Colleen Reid permalink
    September 26, 2011

    The conference was great, particularly its emphasis on our career development and communicating science for policymaking.

  7. Kim Gaetz permalink
    September 26, 2011

    Thank you for your advice regarding communicating uncertainty to a “lay audience.” The conference was informative and gave me a chance to connect to others whose work compliments my own. It was also exciting to see all of the other environmental research out there and meet so many amazing people!

  8. K Richards-Hrdlicka permalink
    September 26, 2011

    It was a wonderful feeling being surrounded by such motivated, self sufficient STAR Fellows. We had wonderful opportunities to network and share stories – what it’s like to be a student a X university or solutions to particular research obstacles. Thank you, EPA, for supporting us and giving us the chance to get to know one-another!

  9. Jeff Salacup permalink
    September 26, 2011

    The conference did a wonderful job of presenting, and informing me about, the intersection of policy and science. It was filled with material that I would not otherwise have been presented with at my home university. I learned a lot and consider it a huge success! Thank you for the support!

  10. Andy Reinmann permalink
    September 26, 2011

    It was a wonderful experience to be at a conference where the focus was on our (STAR Fellows) work as graduate students. I developed a new appreciation for the interface between science and policy and the wide diversity of research being presented and energy surrounding it made for an engaging conference that left me with a reinvigorated sense of hope for the state of our environment.

  11. Heidi Mehl permalink
    September 26, 2011

    Thank you for a wonderful article! The conference was such an amazing experience – the STARs were all so friendly and such a pleasure to interact with. I returned home feeling inspired and energized. What an amazing opportunity for us. I’m so thankful for this Fellowship!

  12. Corinne Wong permalink
    September 26, 2011

    Thank you to the EPA Star fellowship program and co-sponsors for the opportunity to network with our peers and professional scientists in a diversity of careers. I really enjoyed seeing the vast diversity of research that the EPA is supporting, from energy and environmental engineering to climate change and science policy.

    The EPA has provided an amazing amount of support for our research and education – Thank You.

  13. Sarah Taylor Lange permalink
    September 26, 2011

    The STAR program is fantastic and thank you for this wonderful article! The EPA STAR fellowship program has opened up so many amazing opportunities for me. The STAR conference was fantastic and was my first time to Washington D.C. Thank you EPA for the support and experience!

  14. Nancy Tseng permalink
    September 26, 2011

    The conference was a really great learning experience. It was wonderful meeting all the fellows and learning about each one of their projects. I also loved that the conference discussed communication, policy, job search, and even family life! I will definitely remember all the stories and advice from each speaker/panelist as I move forward in my career. As Heidi mentioned before, I also became inspired and energized when I returned home. I’m glad that I have this opportunity to be a STAR!

  15. Leila permalink
    September 26, 2011

    The EPA STAR conference was a great professional development experience. Mr. Ferster, thanks so much for helping us learn about the best ways to engage in public discussion about science!

  16. Jessica Pratt permalink
    September 26, 2011

    I was extremely encouraged by the level of scientific expertise representing the EPA and other agencies/organizations that took part in the STAR conference. The generation of scientific leaders represented by STAR fellows has outstanding dedication to producing scientific knowledge that will be useful in making our world a better place. It makes me even more hopeful about the future of environmental policy and governance in our country.

  17. Joanna Carey permalink
    September 26, 2011

    Great conference! I received many new perspectives and learned a lot, not only from the panelists, but also from my fellow Fellows! The posters were excellent. Thank you to the EPA STAR fellowship for funding such interesting and pertinent research.

  18. Kerri Jean Ormerod permalink
    September 26, 2011

    As a fellow and attendee I can also testify that the STAR conference was excellent. The projects are outstanding and the support from the EPA was/is absolutely wonderful.

  19. Joseph Kasprzyk permalink
    September 27, 2011

    I am really excited to have an EPA STAR fellowship and to meet the world-class fellows at the conference. It was a really nice way to share my research and hear some great talks from the keynotes. Thanks also to all the folks that had really good discussion points in our professional development session!

  20. Allison permalink
    September 27, 2011

    Thank you for the writeup! A great part of the conference’s success was due to the energy and experience of panelists like yourself. It was so exciting to see how each of our projects fits into the overall goals of EPA to protect human health and the environment.

  21. Janet Prevey permalink
    September 27, 2011

    I agree with all the above comments. I had a great time at the EPA STAR conference learning about the fascinating research projects the other fellows are working on, and hearing from people in a broad spectrum of disciplines. Thanks to the organizers and panalists who made the conference a success!

  22. Erin Yost permalink
    September 27, 2011

    I second this- my thoughts, exactly.

  23. Erin Yost permalink
    September 27, 2011

    I second what everyone else here is saying- the conference was a great experience, and made me even more grateful to be part of the STAR program.

  24. John permalink
    September 27, 2011

    I attended the conference, and thought it was fascinating to interact with the people who make up the EPA. As a biologist with an interest in conservation, it is easy to see the EPA as a beleaguered bureaucracy – but I came away with the impression that it is a broad-minded, innovative group of people committed to the best possible interface of science and policy. Great learning experience.

  25. Sara Enders permalink
    September 27, 2011

    This conference provided a terrific mix of opportunities to learn from each other, from experts, and from experience how the results of science turn into public knowledge and contribute to policy. Thank you for this opportunity!

  26. John M permalink
    September 28, 2011

    This conference was a great opportunity to meet a variety of energetic scientists from different fields. I also enjoyed the professional development and policy discussions.

  27. Amalia permalink
    September 28, 2011

    Thank you to the EPA STAR Program for not only supporting exciting research projects, but also for recognizing the importance of preparing our generation of scientists to interface with the public and policymakers. Science can no longer be done in an ivory tower and this conference renewed my excitement about performing policy relevant research. Thank you!

  28. Derek Heeren permalink
    September 28, 2011

    Thanks for helping to make the conference great. The EPA has done an outstanding job providing support for our professional growth, research, and education.

  29. Jordan Howell permalink
    September 29, 2011

    The STAR Conference was great! EPA folks, panelists, and other fellows were super nice and very interesting, too! I was glad to see the diversity of projects that the agency supports.

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