Environmental Policy Initiative Announces Summer 2014 Research Grant Winners

June 9, 2014

Ohio State’s Environmental Policy Initiative, which is directed by Professor Brent Sohngen, offers a yearly summer research grant for OSU graduate students who are preparing doctoral dissertation proposals for work in environmental policy. Recipients receive an award of $4,000, which is to be used during the summer semester during which the award is granted. 

This year’s award was given to three outstanding Ohio State doctoral students: Elizabeth Gardiner from the Department of Anthropology; Chris Hartmann from the Department of Geography; and Nicholas Irwin from the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

Gardiner, who is advised by Dr. Mark Moritz, studies cultural anthropology at Ohio State. She focuses on the impacts of large-scale land acquisitions for commercial commodity production in West Africa with the goal of looking at livelihood sustainability from the household, community, and regional levels.

Gardiner will use the EPI grant to study recent land acquisition impacts on livelihoods in Burkina Faso. In particular, she plans to examine the impact that land acquisitions by local companies, international corporations and foreign entities have had on food security and livelihood sustainability in the country. With her research, she aims to advance the development of theoretical models that account for the long-term impacts of environmental policies and changes in land governance.

Gardiner earned an undergraduate degree in zoology from Ohio State. She earned her M.A. from the School for International Training Graduate Institute in International Service, Leadership and Management. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali and has field experience in Kenya.

Hartmann, who is advised by Professor Becky Mansfield, is a human and environmental geographer who examines contemporary environmental and health issues in Latin America. Hartmann is interested in the ways in which so-called post-neoliberal policies are emerging in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua.

With the EPI funding, Hartmann will examine the roll out of a national health and well-being campaign, titled Vivir Bonito (Live Pretty), and the modernization of Managua’s only municipal waste site, a source of livelihood for thousands of marginalized waste pickers. In his research, he aims to examine new conceptualizations of environmental public health by the state, the changing role of citizens and urban space, and to what extent urban residents are affected by such changes.

Prior to beginning his graduate studies at Ohio State, Hartmann was a research assistant and completed graduate work at Case Western Reserve University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Xavier University and participated in a service-learning semester program in Nicaragua.

Irwin, who is advised by Professor Elena Irwin, studies the intersection of environmental and urban economics with a focus on urban sustainability. With Dr. Irwin, he is engaged in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, a long-term ecological research project funded by the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency, in an effort to learn how an urban area works as an ecological system.

Irwin will use the EPI funding to extend his research on the impact of stormwater management practices in suburban settings to investigate the issue in urban locales. His research has shown that in suburban settings, households do not adequately value the ecosystem service provided by stormwater basins but rather they value the buffer the basins create against future development.  

Irwin earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State and a master’s degree from American University, both in economics. As an undergraduate, he worked two summers as a stormwater program inspector for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. After completing his master’s degree, he worked as a researcher for two different government contractors in the greater Washington, DC area.

EPI aims to stimulate and focus systematic collaboration in environmental policy through research, graduate and undergraduate education, communication with the policy community, and interaction with the national and international community of scholars in environmental policy. Click here to learn more about the work of this innovative Ohio State initiative.

June 9, 2014