ULM receives EPA Environmental Education Grant
University of Louisiana Monroe Professor of Biology Joydeep Bhattacharjee, Ph.D., has been awarded an EPA – Environmental Education Grant. The $133,720 grant will address local environmental issues through educational activities and stewardship using action-oriented research.
It’s been more than 15 years since a ULM faculty member received an EPA-EE grant.
“Of the three awards out of 300 applicants this year in EPA Region 6, ULM was the only educational institution that received the grant, the other two being not-profit organizations. I am humbled by this award,” said Bhattacharjee, of the College of Arts, Education, and Sciences.
EPA Region 6 consists of Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Colleagues, colleges working together
Kevin Baer, Ph, D., professor of toxicology in the College of Pharmacy School of Basic Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Sciences, is the grant’s co-principal investigator.
“Dr. Baer has been key in the formulation of the research plan, especially dealing with pollutants in our wetlands and ways to monitor them. This grant is a culmination of our collaborative research plans over several years,” said Bhattacharjee.
“Working with this team to enhance environmental education and stewardship to the region has been an exercise in dedication and persistence. This grant will help pave the way for future funding and establish ULM as a center of excellence in environmental education for the next generation of Louisiana citizens,” said Baer.
Saswati Majumdar, Ed.D., an adjunct faculty in the School of Education and School of Sciences, contributed to the grant’s conceptualization. Majumdar’s work, including designing the educational goals and objectives and aligning the common principles and science standards with the goals of the grant. She serves as the senior science-education personnel for the grant.
“This grant will involve secondary science teachers and students from area high schools. It will train teachers and help teach environmental awareness among students,” said Bhattacharjee.
The project and related field activities will be at several locations, including ULM’s Environmental Education and Research Center, Restoration Park, Kiroli Park, and Conservation Learning Center at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
“Up to 10 invited teachers will collaborate to directly train and facilitate experiential learning in environmental education for at least 250 students directly, and indirectly affecting up to 1,000 students in our local schools,” Bhattacharjee said.
Activities will include hands-on experience setting up experimental plots, collecting data, deploying water quality sensors, and carrying out water testing. Students and teachers will work alongside ULM faculty in learning about environmental issues affecting wetlands in urban, suburban, and rural areas and work to find creative solutions to such issues.
For high schools with a bayou or a wetland within the vicinity, teachers and students will design and develop a monitoring guideline for water quality and wetland vegetation with the help of ULM faculty.
Based on the water runoff patterns on-site, students will use native plants to reduce erosion, catch, and filter contaminants from running directly into the bayou or wetland. School sites without access to a waterbody/wetland will develop a rain garden using native vegetation to clean surface runoff water from school premises, creating a functioning prototype.
ULM College of Arts, Education, and Sciences School of Sciences Director Anne Case Hanks, Ph.D., said the grant is ideal for ULM and the environment.
“Dr. Bhattacharjee and his team have ample experience in environmental education so students and teachers will be immersed in the unique areas we have in Northeast Louisiana while learning about environmental issues,” she said. “Overall, this is a great opportunity for once again strengthening the partnership between ULM and area schools.”