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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

HERS student studies the impact of rising sea levels on gentrification

Trevor presented his research at the UCAR Conference
 in Boulder, CO in July 2018.
     This summer, Kansas NSF EPSCoR partnered with the Haskell Indian Nations University in support of the Haskell Environmental Research Summer Internship (HERS) program as part of an education and outreach initiative for the RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas. HERS is a summer research internship program “dedicated to preparing tribal college students for scientific and technical careers to help meet the challenges of climate and environmental change.”  Specifically, the program focuses on Indigenous Research and methods as well as provides an overview of Traditional Ecological Knowledge systems.  The goal of the program is to prepare students for graduate school by providing opportunities for students to improve research, writing and presentation skills. During their HERS experience, students complete an in depth research project on climate and/or environmental change. This year the program invited 13 Indigenous Students from across the United States to participate in the 8 week summer program.
    One of the 2018 HERS participants, Trevor Guinn, has a passion for city and urban studies, and when Trevor learned about the HERS opportunity, he knew he wanted to participate. Trevor is from Carthage, MO and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. He is a sophomore at Haskell Indian Nations University and majoring in Liberal Arts. Trevor became excited about the HERS program because he wanted to learn more about professional research and how climate change impacts Native Tribes in America.  He describes his reasons for wanting to be apart of the 2018 HERS Cohort as, “I wanted to look more in depth with how the structures in our society perpetuated climate change and vice versa,” so he focused his research on the impact of sea level rise on gentrification.  In order to tie his passion for city and urban studies to the project, he concentrated his research “on sea level rise within the New York City Metropolitan area and how potential land loss, green infrastructure, and increased storm activity could potentially displace vulnerable populations and change the makeup of neighborhoods in the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs.” The title of his research is Head Under Water: Sea Level Rise and Gentrification in Brooklyn and Queens, NY.  He describes his research journey as follows: “My original intention was to study how those living along coastal regions could potentially intensify the housing crisis that many large cities are currently enduring. But over time, I began to become more interested in the topic of gentrification, where wealthier residents make institutions and resources such as housing and goods less accessible to lower income populations. I found through my research that New York has some of the greatest levels of income inequality in the United States. The potential for poorer neighborhoods to be displaced already exists in many areas of the city, but that sea level rise and storm surges along the coastlines are becoming gradually more intense, and many inhabited places are of threat of permanent inundation. For low income backgrounds, particularly those of color, they faced more risk of being displaced from their neighborhoods, not just by water levels, but by wealthier residents looking to seeking higher ground from the loss of land.”  Trevor presented his research at the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR) 2018 Conference in Boulder, CO this past July.
     When asked about what he thought of his overall HERS experience, Trevor said, “The experience that I had with the HERS internship was amazing. I learned that I had so much opportunity that I had never thought about before entering. The staff and mentors gave me an amazing opportunity to learn more about what I was deeply passionate about, and how I could translate that into a fulfilling career where I felt I could bring the change that I wanted to see.” As for future plans, once Trevor finishes his associates degree, he hopes to transfer to a state school and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning/Geography and eventually attend graduate school.

Workforce Development, Education and Outreach funding for the HERS program is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas.  The grant's workforce development and educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.