Graduate Student Receives Trail Research Grant

Many of Colorado’s numerous trails and open spaces are heavily used — which can lead to costly and time-consuming constant trail maintenance. UNC graduate student Ara Metz is hoping to help Boulder, Colorado, better maintain its trails and open spaces so people can continue to enjoy the outdoors.

Metz is working with UNC’s Sharon Bywater-Reyes, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Environmental Geoscience, and Chelsie Romulo, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, GIS, and Sustainability, on a research project funded by a one-year, $10,000 City of Boulder grant.

The research focuses on the city’s extensive trails through the use of drones and ground data collection to better understand the level of erosion that’s occurring.

“We’re going to look at all of these different variables to enable the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks to plan their trails, if they need to do trail maintenance or just looking at the conditions of undesignated trails that people make on their own,” Metz said.


NSF Grants $1 Million to Develop Assessment Tool

The National Science Foundation awarded two UNC faculty members a $1.077 million grant to improve teaching in college-level environmental science courses.

To help instructors make evidence-based decisions on how to test their students’ understanding of complex concepts, Assistant Professor Chelsie Romulo and Professor Steven Anderson are developing a program that will assess students’ understanding of connections among food-energy-water concepts.

“In all of education, our main objective is for students to learn, and there are lots of different ways to teach so students can learn, as well as tests to see if learning is happening — that’s the piece that’s difficult,” Romulo said. “In order to assess, we need tools for assessment; we need to test instructors and students together to see if what the instructor is doing is effective.” 


Student Receives $5,000 Fellowship

Gabriela Masztalerz, a junior Honors student majoring in Speech-Language Pathology, received the National Collegiate Honors Council’s $5,000 2020 Portz Fellowship for her research project, “Accent Modification and Identity: A Phenomenological Study Exploring the Experiences of International Students and Immigrants/Refugees.”

Her project focuses on individuals who, after experiencing accent discrimination, seek services to help shape their accents to sound similar to the standard accent of a region.

“While accent modification has been shown to positively affect the lives of its clients, many people believe it is also a forceful attempt at Western globalization that simultaneously diminishes cultural integrity,” she said. “I wanted to explore this topic because I believe it is important for future speech-language pathologists and the general population to know how this therapy affects the personal, social and professional identities of different individuals, specifically international students, immigrants and refugees.”