PhD Student Lydia Jennings Awarded 2015 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Lydia Jennings, a Ph.D student in the laboratory of Dr. Raina M. Maier in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, has been awarded a 2015 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Lydia is a part of the Yaqui and Huichol nations, an UA Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, and a NIEHS Superfund Research Program Training core trainee.

Lydia received her Bachelors of Science degree from California State University, Monterey Bay in Environmental Science, Technology and Policy. Lydia worked for three years following her bachelor’s degree for the University of California, Davis, as an environmental toxicologist, where she sampled and analyzed pesticide and metal contaminants in the major California waterways, as well as evaluating the toxicity of hyper-saline brine on marine organisms.

Lydia enrolled in the University of Arizona to work on the international and interdisciplinary issues relating to mining and mine reclamation, specifically where mining impacts Native American and border communities. The subject of her Ph.D research is the identification and characterization of microbial indicators as tools to evaluate mine waste reclamation efforts, and she is working in collaboration with three active copper mining companies in Arizona.

The basis of Lydia's NSF Fellowship is to develop a method to quantify soil improvements of re-vegetated mine waste using microbial metrics. She will characterize microbial diversity with soil development and evaluate the presence of plant growth promoting activities associated with successful phytostabalization. As part of her fellowship, Lydia will also work on an online module to train students about microbial cycling in soils, which will hopefully be implemented in tribal colleges, and continue her community outreach in mining communities.