by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Two rising seniors will perform high-level internships funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this summer. Bestowed on just 25 students nationally in 2016, the EPA-Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) fellowship provides $50,000 over two years to support tuition, research projects and a 12-week, paid EPA internship. It is rarely bestowed on two students from the same institution in the same year.
Keziah Groth-Tuft ’17 (international studies) will spend the summer in Seattle, working side-by-side with EPA scientists on water-quality issues, while Caroline Kanaskie ’17 (environmental science) performs biogeochemistry research in Rhode Island. They are the third and fourth Dickinson students to be named EPA-GRO fellows during the past three years.
Groth-Tuft’s interest in water quality stems from her family’s haul-seining fishery in Lambertville, N.J., and she became focused on global water issues last year after taking part in a Global Climate Change Mosaic and attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris. She is particularly interested in the effects of water quality and availability on international relations and on vulnerable populations, and when she was unable to find a related internship last summer, she designed her own—serving in her local EPA office as an outreach educator on global climate change.
A year later, Groth-Tuft is back with the EPA, this time in the organization’s Seattle Office of Water and Watersheds. She will investigate runoff programs for construction and industrial sites, report on the office’s responses to related tribal concerns and research aquaculture’s role in maintaining salmon populations—all issues that intersect with her plans for a career in human rights and environmental justice.
Caroline Kanaskie '17 in the lab, pipetting algal solutions.
Kanaskie is also passionate about water-quality issues and has been involved with the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) since her first year at Dickinson. The summer after her first year, she helped conduct statewide research on fracking in Pennsylvania, and she’s since led environmental workshops for community groups. She’s also a Montgomery Service Leader and member of the women’s swimming team.
After a summer 2015 internship at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center conducting research on mud crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, Kanaskie spent a semester at the Marine Biological Laboratory, where she studied carbon and nitrogen cycling. She says these experiences laid a foundation for her work in Rhode Island, where she will investigate nitrogen pollution, climate change and belowground carbon cycling in the Narragansett wetlands, along with scientists at the region’s EPA Atlantic Ecology Division.
Like Groth-Tuft, Kanaskie is eager to roll up her sleeves at the EPA, and she feels confident that the intensive research and professional contacts she’ll gain this summer will help her map a promising career in a fast-growing, wide-open field. (That fact is bearing out for previous EPA-GRO fellows at Dickinson. After interning with the EPA’s Casco Bay Estuary Partnership in Portland, Maine, 2015 EPA-GRO fellow Rachel Sclafani accepted a position with GIS software company Esri, while 2014 EPA-GRO recipient Zev Greenberg, who served an internship in the EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory, will pursue a Ph.D. in developmental biology at Washington University this fall.)
Groth-Tuft adds that the EPA-GRO fellowships bring more intangible rewards too. “Knowing that such an important organization wants to fund me to further my studies of environmental justice inspires me to work harder to achieve my dreams of making a positive difference in the world,” she says.
Published June 9, 2016