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UGA Student wins National Water Quality Challenge Award

Release Date: 08/19/2014
Contact Information: Dawn Harris Young, EPA, (404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main),

ATLANTA – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that James Wood, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Georgia located in Athens, Ga., was one of seven undergraduate and graduate student winners for Phase 1 of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS) Campus Challenge. The award was based on Wood’s proposal to assess major trends in river plants and measure the bioaccumulation of heavy metals in highly urbanized watersheds.

Announced in February, the NARS Campus Challenge encourages students to develop proposals for research projects that find innovative ways to use NARS data about the condition of the nation’s rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal areas. The challenge recognizes exemplary research in the area of water quality and ecosystems.

“The National Aquatic Resource Surveys are helping our states and tribes effectively and accurately monitor the ecological condition of our surface waters, which in turn helps EPA better target program efforts to meet our Clean Water Act goals," said Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Water Office. “These students are working to protect America’s surface water resources and bring to this challenge energy, innovative perspectives, and cutting-edge knowledge.”

The National Aquatic Resource Surveys are a series of statistically representative surveys conducted by state, tribal and federal partners about the condition of the nation’s waters using core indicators and standardized lab and field methods. In addition to providing national assessments of key water body types such as coastal areas, rivers and streams, lakes, and wetlands, NARS also helps to improve the states’ capacity for water quality monitoring and assessment.

The other winners of the Phase 1 awards are:

Anna Palmer, SUNY-Purchase, New York, for her proposal to use statistical analyses for assessing socio-economic factors related to water quality;

Lauren Reuss, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, for her proposal to develop a new system for identifying the condition of shallow lakes and factors that affect the quality of lake condition such as land use, lake size and depth;

John Lombardi, SUNY-College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, Syracuse, New York, for his proposal to combine citizen science data with National Lakes Assessment (NLA) data.

Kelly Heber and Lain Dunning, Ph.D. candidates, MIT, Massachusetts, for their proposal to link between stakeholder communities and coastal ecosystem health;

Kevin Meyer, Ph.D. candidate, Iowa State University, Iowa, for his proposal to estimate land use effects on water quality using spatial econometrics;

Amanda Winegardner, Ph.D. candidate, McGill University, Canada, for her proposal to explore biological diversity changes across the U.S.; and

The Phase 1 winners each received an award of $2000 for their proposals. After completing their proposed work, these students may apply for Phase 2 of the NARS Campus Research Challenge. The Phase 2 winners will be awarded $5000 each.

More information on the National Aquatic Resources Surveys Campus Research Challenge is available at:

More information on the National Aquatic Resources Surveys is available at:

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