Posted: August 23, 2016

The School for Field Studies (SFS) presented its Distinguished Student Researcher Award to two of its alumni in recognition of the exceptional environmental research they conducted while studying abroad during the spring semester of 2016. The award was presented to: Nicole Corneau of Saint Michael’s College; and Angela Hessenius of University of San Diego.

Each year, The School for Field Studies honors its most exceptional students with Distinguished Student Researcher Awards for their important contributions in environmental research. SFS semester students engage in undergraduate research guided by SFS faculty on projects related to each Center’s long-term strategic research plan. Outcomes of these Directed Research (DR) projects provide information and recommendations to community members and other stakeholders on critical, local environmental issues.

Students are nominated by SFS faculty based on their demonstrated sophistication in research design, fieldwork, reporting, and contribution to the Center’s research plan. The SFS award also recognizes the student’s leadership exhibited while working with a team of student and faculty researchers in the field.

SFS Dean of Academic Programs Dr. Mark Seifert and Assistant Dean Dr. Meghan Graham MacLean presented the award this fall with a nomination from the students’ DR advisors.

Nicole Corneau, Saint Michael’s College and SFS Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, Panama
The objective of Corneau’s research project, The Role of Environmental Education in the Creation of a Sustainable Waste Management System of Bocas del Toro, Panama, was to analyze methods used to promote learning around personal waste management practices, within the context of primary and secondary level public and private education. Nicole’s work draws on a thorough examination of global best practices in environmental education to critically investigate current individual waste management practices on the largest inhabited islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Panama.

While her research centers on the case study of waste management practices, Corneau’s insights into her findings reach beyond this scope, giving the work a high degree of relevance to environmental education in Panama more broadly. Her project may serve as the foundation for a future SFS community engagement initiative, designed to cultivate active learning around waste management practices in local high schools.

Professor Alastair Smith, Corneau’s DR advisor, describes Nicole as “a truly outstanding student,” demonstrating “consistent and humble self-assurance, not fainted by external expectations” throughout the entirety of the research process.

Angela Hessenius, University of San Diego and SFS Center for Mekong Studies, Cambodia
Hessenius’ research project, Examination of Environmental Education Initiatives in Prek Toal and Anlong Taor Villages in Cambodia, was a formal critical examination of environmental education initiatives in two Cambodian villages, incorporating interviews with a range of local stakeholders to discover the current benefits of and challenges to such initiatives. As few evaluations of this sort have been completed in Cambodia, Angela’s work addresses an important knowledge gap and will help community members take advantage of opportunities to integrate environmental education into sustainability and conservation efforts in the future.

Professor Georgina Lloyd, Hessenius’ DR advisor, remarks that “Angela had untiring energy for her research and showed professionalism at all times,” in addition to having “a deep intellectual curiosity and sense of empathy that greatly contributed to the program.”

CONTACT: Leslie Granese, Vice President for Institutional Relations and Enrollment, lgranese@fieldstudies.org, 978-219-5120

About The School for Field Studies: For more than 35 years, The School for Field Studies (SFS), the United States’ largest environmental study abroad program for college undergraduates, has combined hands-on, multi-disciplinary environmental studies with scientific research to propose sustainable solutions to critical environmental problems. SFS students work with local communities to discover practical ways to manage their natural resources, and in the process undergo a transformational experience that helps them to advance their careers as skilled professionals and to become globally aware citizens.