Warner Rams receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Juli Scamardo and Katie Rocci will continue research and graduate studies in Warner College of Natural Resources as recipients of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Scamardo, who earned her master’s degree in geosciences in May 2019, and Rocci, who graduated from Colorado State University’s Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, will use the prestigious fellowships to embark on new lines of environmental research.

Focus on ephemeral streams

Headshot photo of Juli Samardo
Juli Scamardo

Scamardo grew up canoeing the waterways of West Texas where most tributary streams are ephemeral, meaning they don’t always have water in them. And now, her doctoral research will focus on ephemeral streams in the southwest.

Scamardo first came to CSU to research the potential for beavers to influence stream restoration in the Fluvial Geomorphology Lab, studying under advisor and lab P.I. Ellen Wohl. Scamardo will continue working with Wohl on her doctoral degree but is shifting her emphasis from river restoration to fill critical gaps in knowledge around ephemeral streams.

Specifically, Scamardo hopes to better understand sedimentation (deposits of small rock and soils) in these stream systems that make up significant portions of stream systems in the arid southwest. Currently, knowledge about what causes sedimentation in these systems, how much sediment exists, where it comes from, and on what time scales are unanswered in geomorphology literature.

Better understanding of stream systems can influence environmental policies and regulations around waterways at a number of scales from the Federal Clean Water Act down to local environmental review policies that municipalities might implement.

Focus on nitrogen, but with a twist

Headshot of Katie Rocci
Katie Rocci

When Rocci was in sixth grade, she attended an environmental conference dedicated to global warming. She’s been focused on addressing the impacts of climate change ever since.

Rocci’s master’s research in the GDPE program sought to evaluate the use of biochar (charcoal you can apply in soils) in agricultural systems and how these soil supplements influenced the nitrogen cycle working with Francesca Cotrufo, Natural Resource Ecology Lab researcher and Soil and Crop Sciences faculty.

With her NSF-GRF she’ll continue working on the nitrogen cycle but will now consider the coupling of the carbon and nitrogen cycles in areas with significant human influence and those without such intensive influence. Leveraging data from long-term ecological sites in Loch Vale Rocky Mountain National Park and Niwot Ridge outside of Boulder, Rocci hopes to understand whether heavy amounts of human influence (such as seen in RMNP) increases nitrogen deposition.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

The NSF-GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduates in NSF-supported sciences who are pursuing research-based graduate master’s and doctoral degrees. Beginning in 1951, the program is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind and has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their academic and professional careers. The award includes an annual stipend with allowances for education costs and research funding.