pesticides and toxic substances

Science Wednesday:Rising STARs

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Science Wednesday: Greetings from a “Strategic Optimist”

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

I received a great holiday gift on December 24 when the U.S. Senate confirmed me as the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD). I am thrilled that President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson have trusted me with this incredible opportunity.

I take great pride in joining EPA’s leadership team, and am eager to get started with the important work ORD does in making a real difference for the American people.

Coming to EPA is kind of a homecoming for me. Over twenty years ago I joined the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances as chief of the industrial chemistry branch, and I’ve been fortunate to keep in touch with my many EPA friends and extraordinary colleagues over the years.

The Office of Research and Development is a cornerstone of this Agency, seen in the fact that both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have emphasized cutting-edge, independent scientific analysis as critical to the work of EPA. We here at ORD have a chance to not only explore innovative solutions to protect our health and the environment, but to reassure the American people that nothing will compromise our commitment to openness and scientific integrity.

As we look toward the 40th anniversary of EPA’s founding, the issues we face are more complex and subtle than they were at our founding—and the need for the best science is greater than ever.

Those who know me well know that I consider myself a “strategic optimist.” That means I bring to the table an ambitious vision, and a firm understanding that we can only get there if we take the correct actions. Identifying those actions will require the best science and technology that ORD has to offer. That is why—like Administrator Jackson—my highest priorities for ORD are the integrity, independence, and transparency of the scientific processes, and the application of this science to the programs throughout EPA.

image of Assistant Administrator Paul AnastasAbout the Author: Prior to his confirmation as the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Paul T. Anastas was the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University, where he also served as the director of the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering. He is widely known as “the Father of Green Chemistry.” Anastas earned his B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and his M.A. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Brandeis University.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.