Geology Major Cleans Up

Geology major Avanel Cunningham has been awarded a Brownfield Scholarship for the 2010-2011 academic year at York College, CUNY

The Scholarship is designed to provide financial support to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in the environmental industry in New York City; it promotes sustainable Brownfield management throughout the city 

According to Dr. Ratan Kumar Dhar, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Physical Science, the honor is the more remarkable because Cunningham was the only undergraduate competitor amongst the eight students.  The other seven were all CUNY graduate students.

“I was immediately impressed by Avanel’s approach and hands-on experience, as well as her attention to detail,” said Dr. Dhar.  “She is well positioned to become a leader in the area of environmental geosciences.”

Indeed.  Cunningham, a senior, has participated in national and international conferences as author and co-author of various posters and abstracts.  Her research, thus far, ranges from nutrients and heavy-metals loading in Jamaica Bay, to iron and arsenic speciation in sediments from contaminated areas in Bengal, India.

“The essence of choosing a career comes to many by external influences such as family pressure and personal experiences,” Cunningham explains in her winning essay. “But to me, choosing a career is about passion, which is intrinsic.  That is why I decided to pursue a career that entails dealing with environmental issues and making the environment better.”

And “Brownfields” have become the latest buzzword in the environmental lexicon.  Brownfields are properties where redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination.  The New York City Partnership of Brownfield Practitioners was started in response to the Local Brownfield Cleanup Program initiated last year under PlaNYC by the New York City Office of Environmental Remediation. 

The program’s primary function is to promote sustainable Brownfield management and providing relevant services. 

An essential component to the long-term success of Brownfield remediation is the “commitment of the next generation of Brownfield professionals.”  The Scholarship Program for Brownfield Studies began last year as a means of encouraging students to enter this increasingly important field.

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