College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

Creating a Better World by Thinking Outside the Box

AGNR students win Green Fund Fellowships
Overhead view of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon
Image Credit: 
Rhett A. Butler,

Two students with the University of Maryland College of Agriculture & Natural Resources (AGNR) were recently rewarded for their work on innovative, cross-disciplinary proposals to improve the environment both here at home and abroad.

Graduate student Joe Maher from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC) and his partner Xiaopeng Song (Geography) were the winners of the first annual Green Fund Fellowship – a competition that encourages students to think outside the box and to reach across disciplines when approaching environmental problems. The fellowship is awarded by the university’s Council on the Environment and carries a stipend of $10,000. Maher and Song’s project is entitled: Linking Remote Sensing and Economics: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Protected Areas in Reducing Tropical Deforestation. Their proposal aims to create an integrated framework linking annual satellite-based deforestation data with quasi-experimental methods to measure the effectiveness of protected areas in reducing tropical deforestation. They hope to generate significant policy implications for the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Due to the overwhelming response to the fellowship announcement and the high quality of proposals received, the Council on the Environment added an additional $10,000 from its own funding to provide support for a second fellowship. The recipients of that award were Scott Tjaden (pictured below), a student with the Department of Environmental Science & Technology, and David Dailey from the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Their project titled Improving Efficiences: Integrated Green Roof and Photovoltaic Research aims to compare the energy production from a combined green roof with photovoltaic panels to achieve economic, ecological and social sustainability.

Both groups will present their research to the Council on the Environment upon completion of their project at the end of this year. More than 61 students expressed an interest in the fellowship after it was announced last fall. Thirteen proposals were ultimately submitted. The Council announced funds have been provided through the Green Fund to continue the fellowship competition in the fall of 2013.

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