November 29, 2022

UMW Environmental Science Professor Receives Fulbright Scholarship

Melanie Szulczewski, associate professor of Earth and environmental Sciences at the University of Mary Washington, has been selected to receive a prestigious 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant. Szulczewski will use the grant to conduct research at the University of Agriculture in Krakow, Poland.   Melanie Szulczewski, associate professor of Earth and environmental Sciences Szulczewski is one of two professors at UMW to receive the Fulbright Scholarship this year. Julius Esunge, assistant professor of mathematics, will be traveling to Buea, Cameroon to construct and compare predictive models for healthcare costs and to teach classes at the University of Buea. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau. The scholarship program gives professors the opportunity to conduct research and network with other professors from around the world. While in Poland, Szulczewski will study ecosystem restoration on former mining sites with Marcin Pietrzykowski, professor and researcher of forest ecology at the University of Agriculture in Krakow. Pietrzykowski previously received a Fulbright Scholarship to work at Virginia Tech in the 2013-2014 academic year. “This opportunity to work with him will enhance my field and analytical skills,” said Szulczewski. “It will benefit both of our research groups and add to the knowledge base for rehabilitating thousands of contaminated mining sites worldwide.” Szulczewski, an environmental scientist who specializes in soil chemistry, came to UMW in 2008. Prior to teaching at UMW, Szulczewski received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and French literature from Cornell University. Szulczewski also received both a master’s degree in soil science and a doctorate in soil science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kisila and Students Publish Research

Ben Odhiambo Kisila, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and his former UMW research students Elyse Clark, Sunnan Yoon and Laura Pilati had their research paper, “Hydroacoustic and spatial analysis of sediment fluxes and accumulation rates in two Virginia reservoirs, USA” published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

UMW Showcases STEM Activities

Small drones buzzed overhead as more than 600 people viewed the latest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the Anderson Center at the University of Mary Washington on March 29 during the third annual  STEM Summit 16. Click to view slideshow. Showcasing the achievements of the region’s students, educators and businesses, the event featured more than 50 booths, including the UMW departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental science, geography, mathematics, physics and the admissions office. Germanna Community College, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren and a variety of regional schools also showcased 3-D printers, experiments and robotics among other STEM-related technologies. Missy Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab and associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University, delivered the keynote address. One of the U.S. Navy’s first female fighter pilots, Cummings discussed drone technologies and human-machine collaboration. The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual event is sponsored by Central Rappahannock Regional Library (FredTech) and Lockheed Martin. A few steps away in the Goolrick pool, five local school teams – from elementary to high school – competed in the regional SeaPerch competition. The SeaPerch program, funded by the Office of Naval Research, is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). Teams guided their remote-controlled submersibles through a series of tasks, including navigating an underwater obstacle course and retrieving weights. Teams also presented to a panel of judges about the overall projects. Two teams, both from the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity Dahlgren School, won the competition and will go on to a national SeaPerch competition in Mississippi. A different buzz could be heard further down Campus Walk during the 8th Annual UMW High School Calculus Tournament. Six local high school teams, consisting of 23 students, competed in a jeopardy-style competition and used individual buzzers to signal the correct answers. The Paul VI High School team from Fairfax took home the championship title with team members Christina Wulff, Stephanie Ibanez and Stephanie Keener. The Mountain View High School team from Stafford finished second. Thomas Sheehan, also from Paul VI High School, earned the top individual score of the tournament. More than $600 in prizes were awarded to the student winners as well as the schools represented by the top two teams. The event was sponsored by Dynovis.

Kisila and Students Publish Research

Ben Odhiambo Kisila, earth and environmental sciences, and his former UMW research students Elyse Clark ’13, Ph. D. candidate in the department of crop and environmental sciences at Virginia Tech and Matthew Ricker ’06, postdoctoral fellow in the school of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University, have their research paper, “Comparative analysis of metal concentrations and sediment accumulation rates in two Virginian reservoirs, USA: Lakes Moomaw and Pelham,” published in the February issue of the peer-reviewed journal Water, Air, and Soil Pollution.

The research results shows comparable levels of trace metals loadings in the more human stressed Lake Pehlam system and the more pristine Lake Moomaw probably because of the relative importance of atmospheric deposition in the mountainous forested watersheds. The steep slopes coupled with the highly erodible colluvial soils and the prevalence of shoreline erosion also exacerbates both sediment and trace metal fluxes in Lake Moomaw.


Ben Odhiambo Kisila and Leanna Giancarlo Publish Paper

Ben Odhiambo Kisila, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Science, and Leanna Giancarlo, associate professor of Chemistry, have had their collaborative study, “Sediment trace metals and PCB input history in Lake Anna, Virginia, USA,” published in the July issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Earth Sciences.  This research, involving undergraduate students Gayle Armentrout, Virginia Brown and Chelsea Wegner, constitutes a four-year investigation to construct a historical record of Lake Anna, extending through Louisa, Orange, and Spotsylvania Counties in Northern Virginia, by analysis of sediment cores, from seven locations within the lake and three from nearby areas, for heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  Chemical specific analysis of these samples enables an examination of the environmental evolution of the reservoir system since sediments sequester metals derived from both natural and anthropogenic sources and isotopic sediment chronology provides the temporal dimension.

Leanna Giancarlo

Leanna Giancarlo

Kisila, Ben05

Ben Kisila


Melanie Szulczewki Presents at ACS National Meeting

Melanie Szulczewski, assistant professor of environmental science, presented “Examination of the Diverse Environmental Impacts of Long-Term Acid Mine Drainage on a Virginia Stream Ecosystem” in the environmental chemistry division at the 244th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. The national meeting was held in Philadelphia, Penn., August 19 to 23.