Social Sciences: Tropical Ecology and Climate Change

Department: Environmental Sciences

Supervising Faculty Member: Deborah Lawrence

Specialization: Tropical Ecology and Climate Change

Research Focus: My group is studying how land use change (deforestation) affects climate change. We use field methods, laboratory experiments, and global climate models to understand effects of replacing trees with crops. Ultimately, we are interested in understanding how management of the land surface of the earth can help avoid global warming. We are also interested in taking scientific knowledge into the realm of public policy and personal action, so we are working with social scientists, engineers, lawyers, and ethicists. We are trying to create a new conversation on climate, based on earth system modeling and interdisciplinary thought.

Position Description: The student may work on one of two focal areas: Charlottesville or the Great Lakes Region of East Africa. In Charlottesville, we are interested in understanding constraints on expansion of roof top solar--psychological, social, economic, technological and political. In East Africa, we are interested in understanding land management--how do countries balance food production with conservation? what are current climate constraints on both? how will it change in the future? In each case, the student would do background research, compile information, and serve as a liason with a group of scholars, community members and activists interested in our projects.

Required skills: library research, research on line

Computer software: working with Excel might be useful

Training/certification: no

What you will learn: thorough review of literature, using library resources (not google); summarize and present information in both written, tabular and oral form; analyze and form an opinion about a question or topic.

Web site link to research: http://www.evsc.virginia.edu/lawrence-deborah2/