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Meet GradCAP: A Virtual Climate Lab for Graduate Students

What do these have in common - songbirds, soil bacteria, farmer decision-making, and mathematical watershed modeling? 

Northeast

What do these have in common - songbirds, soil bacteria, farmer decision-making, and mathematical watershed modeling? 

They are all diverse research topics of GradCAP Scholars. And the connection is their shared focus on adapting to climate change. GradCAP, which is short for Graduate Student Climate Adaptation Partners, is a pilot, virtual lab project. The lab engages graduate students in the mission and work of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. Participating scholars share their research and expertise across the lab’s geographic, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries. The goals of this project include peer-to-peer networking, professional development, and collaborations. 

How does a virtual lab work?

The current cohort of fourteen GradCAP Scholars represent six USDA Northeast Climate Hub partner institutions, that range geographically from West Virginia to Maine. As a virtual lab, GradCAP Scholars meet through periodic video conferencing calls. This past spring, lab meetings featured guest presentations from USDA Northeast Climate Hub leadership and affiliates, followed by group discussions. Beginning in October, the Scholars will run the show. The current research of our Scholars will be presented in a series of bi-weekly webinars. These meetings are open to the public and will be archived online for later viewing. We hope you’ll tune in! 

GradCAP Webinar Series

Soils and Plant Growth

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on soil carbon dynamics, beneficial rhizobacteria, and plant temperature tolerance. Scholars, Brooke Eastman, Sarah Mills, and Bill Erickson will present on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 2-3pm. 

Changing Ecosystems

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on sustainable watershed utilization, changing soil moisture on farms, and shifting bird habitats. Scholars, Manashi Paul, Sonja Birthisel and Gordon Dimmig will present on Thursday, October 18, 2018, 12-1pm.

Farms and Farmer Decisions

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on farmer decision-making, hayfield management, and crop yield modeling. Scholars, Alissa White, Brogan Tooley and Mike Allen will present on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 2-3pm.

Aquaculture

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on temperature and surfclam rearing, and the use of kelp farming to dampen ocean waves. Scholars, Mike Acquafredda and Longhuan Zhu will present on Thursday, November 15, 2018, 2-3pm.

Changing Farm Management

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on changing plant disease pressures, and managing soil for mitigation. Scholars, Kyle M. Dittmer and Joe Walls will present on Tuesday, November 27, 10-11am. 

Stakeholder Beliefs and Actions

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on fostering climate resilience in farming and forestry through stakeholder engagement. Scholars, Ruth Sexton and Alyssa Soucy will present on Friday, December 7th, 12-1pm.

How are Scholars selected? 

GradCAP is open to Masters and Doctoral students whose research involves climate adaptation in agriculture, aquaculture, or forestry. Potential Scholars are nominated by a faculty or staff person affiliated with one of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub’s 16 university partners. Do you know someone who would be a great fit for GradCAP? If so, please send details to Sonja Birthisel (sonja.birthisel@maine.edu). Nominations are still being accepted. GradCAP is especially looking to welcome Scholars from USDA Northeast Climate Hub university partner schools not yet represented in the current group. 

This virtual lab for graduate students is co-managed by one of the current GradCAP Scholars. University of Maine’s Sonja Birthisel, works with Dr. Ivan Fernandez, Professor of Soil Science, on organizing and leading this initiative.