Berry Professor Awarded Fulbright Research Grant

Release Date: May 01, 2018

A Berry College professor has received a grant from the Fulbright Scholarship Program, one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, to pursue research in Costa Rica.

With this grant, Associate Professor of Geology Tamie Jovanelly will spend two summers (2018/2019) in the forest reserves collecting physical and chemical water quality data.  This Fulbright Flex Research Grant will help to answer questions regarding the current watershed health and water quality at four national parks in the developing country of Costa Rica as well as the existing challenges being placed upon these watersheds. Jovanelly will also look into the human interaction and behavior that has led to degradation of the watersheds.

She initiated the collaborative project with colleagues at the Universidad Nacional and Water Resources Management Laboratory for the collection of a pioneering data set that identifies both the quality of the water and establishes overall watershed health in four national parks within Costa Rica. These national parks demonstrate the diversity of touristic activities, varying degrees of visitation and assortment of forest types that challenges the Costa Rican government when managing land sustainably.

The Fulbright Program is a scholarship program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946. The program was established to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. It is considered to be one of the most widely recognized in the world.

“Senator Fulbright created this international outreach program after World War II to promote peace and understanding through educational exchange,” Jovanelly said. “In this chaotic world that we live in today, I am humbled to be a cultural ambassador in representing the United States abroad as a Fulbright Research Scholar. I deeply believe that all people should have the ability to access clean water. I have seen how education can promote positive changes in an environment. I am just glad that my academic pursuits can be of service.”

This is Jovanelly’s second Fulbright grant. She received her first grant in 2013 that allowed her to spend her sabbatical collaborating with hydrology colleagues at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. This coincided with a National Geographic Conservation Trust grant that she received allowing her to collect baseline water quality data on the last remaining forest reserves that protect the Nile River.

 “As I had already sampled in Europe, Asia and Africa, to represent developed vs undeveloped countries, I found it important for my data set to visit a country that is developing, like Costa Rica. Similarly, I will visit Brazil to capture the water quality signature of the Amazon River,” she said.

Any time that Jovanelly has traveled internationally since 2006, she has been collecting water quality data on river systems.

“Upon conclusion of this grant, I am hoping to combine my datasets to publish a book making global comparisons of water usage and major river systems from five different continents,” Jovanelly said. “The intent is that my data will be used for policy and legislative actions in that it will present realistic approaches for sustainability from a grassroots perspective.”

Jovanelly was also elected in 2017 as one of only 30 Fulbright Specialists - highly experienced and well-established faculty or professionals who act as consultants abroad for countries seeking support and education. Jovanelly is listed as a consultant for water quality, resource management, allocation, conservation and sustainability for her three-year term.

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Written by Public Relations Student Supervisor Alexi Bell