2021-2022 Academic Year

News and Highlights in June 2022

RCI affiliate, Dr. Mark Robson at the Soil Health Symposium

On March 15, dozens of faculty and staff at Rutgers SEBS and the NJAES met to discuss their work on soil health, reports Morning Ag Clips. Stephanie Murphy, director of the Rutgers Soil Testing Lab, organized the symposium, which covered topics such as land use and conservation to climate and climate change mitigation, soil fertility and pest management, plant and animal health, soil structure aspects and water management, the soil microbiome, economic considerations, and soil contamination. The symposium was part of the Vision 2025 initiative to build up NJAES. Stephanie Murphy provided a brief overview of soil health science and outreach efforts within NJAES and the state and country. NJ state climatologist David Robinson linked soil and climate. RCI Associate Director Marjorie Kaplan talked about the links between climate change mitigation and soil health. Daniel Gimenez and Jason Grabosky emphasized physical aspects of soil health. Mark Robson concluded the symposium by discussing potential contamination risks in soil.

Dr. Lauren Neitzke-Adamo, RCI affiliate, at the Rutgers Geology Museum

The Rutgers Geology Museum is celebrating its 150th anniversary, reports SEBS/NJAE News. The museum was founded by George H. Cook, who was a professor of geology, chemistry, and agriculture, as well as the vice president of the university. It is the oldest museum dedicated to geology in America. Although it no longer conducts research, it educates the public about natural history by hosting K-12 students. Museum Director and RCI affiliate Dr. Lauren Neitzke-Adamo said, “we strive to connect with the local K–12 and university communities to inspire the next generation of geoscientists to continue building upon the legacy that the many Rutgers University geologists worked so hard to build.” The museum held an open house to celebrate its anniversary, offering a variety of activities for children. Adamo strives to emphasize the contributions of the founders of the museum. As the State Geologist of New Jersey,” Adamo et al wrote, “Cook’s research efforts encouraged the economic development of the clays, soils, iron, zinc, and water supplies throughout the state, and by the end of his career at Rutgers College, Cook had collected and organized more than 4000 mineral and fossil specimens and acquired several other important artifacts, such as a mastodon skeleton from Mannington, New Jersey and several large slabs of Triassic sandstone from Morris County, New Jersey; these sandstone slabs contained footprints from seven different species of ancient reptiles including dinosaur.” The museum might be small, but its proponents believe it can expand and educate even more people. “Much more time and effort would need to be invested to transform the museum into one of the leading outreach and educational centers in New Jersey; however, the Rutgers Geology Museum remains a treasure within the Rutgers University and New Jersey communities,” Adamo said.

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Malin Pinsky and Pamela McElwee, RCI affiliates

SEBS/NJAE News reports that faculty members and RCI affiliates Pamela McElwee and Malin Pinsky are to begin the Earth Leadership Training Program. The program, hosted in Racine, Wisconsin, will last from June 12-18th, 2022. McElwee’s work involves understanding how global environmental changes affect community and individual resilience. She especially studies these changes in Vietnam. She knew she wanted to become a climate scientist when she worked as an intern for Al Gore and later for the Clinton White House. Pinsky’s work involves understanding the changes caused by climate change for ocean life. After gazing upon whales on a research expedition south of South America, he realized he wanted to be a marine scientist. Pinsky is looking forward to learning different models for team-building from his fellowship year.

Dan Van Abs, RCI affiliate

Dan Van Abs, professor of professional practice in the Rutgers Department of Human Ecology and RCI affiliate, has been awarded a $200k grant from the NJDEP to update the NJ Statewide Water Supply Plan, reports MorningAgClips. “It’s an honor to be able to work on this important project, especially as I co-authored and managed the development of the 1996 statewide water supply plan more than 25 years ago,” said Van Abs. The 1996 plan was the first new water supply plan since the original 1982 plan, explained Van Abs. “It provided a more detailed analysis of water demands and availability, and for the first time focused attention on the need to protect water supplies from pollution.” The 1996 plan was eventually replaced by the 2017 plan. The new plan will incorporate future projections of climate change, which has caused changing water demands. Van Abs has had a long career working with the NDEP and other agencies in the field of watershed management. He also helped develop the Raritan Basin Watershed Management Plan and helped plan the Highlands Regional Master Plan. “As I move toward the end of my professional career, I’m pleased to again have the opportunity to help on these critical issues,” said Van Abs.