Catherine Russell, a British geologist who earned a doctorate in fluvial sedimentology, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship by the US-UK Fulbright Commission to broaden her studies at the University of New Orleans.
Russell, who has lectured in sedimentology and Earth surface processes, is interested in human impacts on rivers and their landscapes, including plastic pollution. She will work with Robert Mahon, a geologist and assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at UNO. Russell also will give several guest lectures in the earth and environmental sciences department, as well as in civil engineering, said Mark Kulp, earth and environmental sciences professor and department chair.
“Dr. Russell and Dr. Mahon will conduct field and experimental work on the fate of microplastics as they are incorporated into the sedimentary record and build models to predict how these environmental contaminants will be transported through reservoirs and rivers,” Kulp said.
During her yearlong study as a Fulbright-Lloyd Visiting Scholar, Russell seeks to learn the deeper impacts of the human-modified landscape on day-to-day living in New Orleans. The key focus of her research will be investigating the novelties of Anthropocene rivers when compared to natural systems and particularly the consequences of human activities on reservoir water quality.
Anthropocene — the age of humans — refers to the new geologic era of human impact on the natural world.
Russell established the Anthropocene Sediment Network in 2020, an international, interdisciplinary group that seek to understand and share the impact of accelerating change to Earth via research and school curricula.
Russell said the Fulbright Scholarship gives her the opportunity to build bridges and new connections in her research, as well as to undertake fieldwork in a new environment.
As part of the global Fulbright Program, the US-UK Fulbright Commission works to further intercultural understanding between the United States and England through educational exchange. Scholars are chosen based on academic excellence, ambassadorial qualities and demonstrated leadership or impact. Fulbright alumni include Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners.