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DENIN Environmental Fellows
New DENIN Environmental Fellows are (from left) Kyra Kim, Amanda Rosier, Matt Fischel, Margaret Capooci and Mohammad Afsar.

New DENIN Fellows announced

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

DENIN welcomes fourth cohort of doctoral fellowship recipients

The Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) at the University of Delaware has selected its fourth class of DENIN Environmental Fellows. The two-year fellowship supports doctoral students whose research interests demonstrate a bridge between science and society.

Five recipients were chosen following a rigorous selection process that included a written research proposal and an interview for finalists. Candidates were expected to demonstrate an ability and commitment to communicating and transferring the benefits of their research to the wider world, in addition to the intellectual merit of their research proposals.

“We fully expect that the DENIN Fellows will become the environmental leaders of tomorrow,” said Jeanette Miller, associate director of DENIN. “We continue to be inspired by the talent and commitment to the environment shown by all the applicants each year and epitomized in this year’s recipients.”

Four of this year’s fellowships are supported by a grant from the Unidel Foundation that focuses on building UD’s capacity in biogeosciences, an interdisciplinary field of science that studies the interactions between geological and biological processes. Additional support for the DENIN Environmental Fellows program is provided by private philanthropy and the National Science Foundation through the Delaware Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The DENIN Fellows for 2017–19 include the following students:

Mohammad Afsar earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is currently working with Yan Jin, professor of plant and soil sciences, to understand the interactions between colloids and soil organic matter under dynamic redox conditions, which frequently exist in wetlands. His research will contribute to improved understanding of how organic matter is released and transported in these environments.

Margaret Capooci earned her bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and philosophy from the University of Scranton. She is a doctoral student in the Water Science and Policy Program working with Rodrigo Vargas, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences. She is working to understand the patterns and mechanisms behind carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions from wetland soils. Since these are greenhouse gases, understanding the processes that lead to their release to the atmosphere will increase our ability to predict climate change impacts.

Matthew Fischel earned dual bachelor’s degrees in environmental soil science and natural resource management from the University of Delaware. He is working with Donald Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Soil and Environmental Chemistry, researching how sea level rise will affect arsenic mobility and sequestration in marsh soils and vegetation. These studies will help guide the future management of coastal wetlands in Delaware and abroad to mitigate marsh contaminant release with future climate change.

Kyra Kim is a native of South Korea. During her bachelor’s degree program at the University of Texas at Austin, she was drawn to the study of water science, policy and management. In the Department of Geological Sciences at UD, she works with Holly Michael, associate professor, and William Ullman, professor, to understand how sandy beaches regulate the flow and quality of nutrient-rich groundwater from coastal aquifers to the oceans.

Amanda Rosier earned her bachelor’s degree in microbial ecology from the University of Montana. She worked at the Montana Department of Natural Resources Conservation’s plant nursery and then North Creek Nurseries in Pennsylvania prior to joining the plant root biology lab of Harsh Bais, associate professor of plant and soil sciences. Her work focuses on the complex, below-ground interactions of beneficial bacteria with plant roots, particularly interactions that improve plant health. Understanding these positive interactions could lead to reduced fertilizer and pesticide use and more sustainable agriculture.

More information about the DENIN Environmental Fellows program is available on the program webpage, including profiles of past recipients, information for prospective donors who wish to support the program and application information in the late spring.


The Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN), founded at the University of Delaware in 2009, is an interdisciplinary incubator of research, knowledge and solutions specifically dedicated to safeguarding the environment and addressing environmental issues. DENIN provides academic, government and industrial partners broad access to experts from multiple disciplines in a collaborative effort to advance environmental science, promote environmental education and devise innovative, multidimensional strategies for environmental sustainability. 

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