Biology doctoral student Alicia L. Arrington-Thomas has earned the Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award from the Ecological Society of America, enabling her to travel to Washington, D.C., to go over science policy with lawmakers. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Mom, scientist, firefighter, environmental advocate: any of these titles could be utilised to describe University of Mississippi student Alicia L. Arrington-Thomas, the latter of which created achievable by a current award from the Ecological Society of America.

The second-year doctoral student in biological sciences has received the ESA’s Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award, enabling her a as soon as-in-a-lifetime chance to travel to Capitol Hill and go over science policy with legislators in April.

“I am so excited to travel to D.C. since I want to be a voice for Mississippi and for our communities,” Arrington-Thomas stated. “We have intense regulatory and environmental difficulties that can be addressed by way of policy and federal assistance of ecological investigation.”

Supplied each and every year, the award offers its recipients hands-on instruction and science policy encounter, such as interacting with congressional selection-makers, federal agency officials and ecologists who function in the science and public policy arena.

Arrington-Thomas has a wide variety of interests in the realm of ecology and conservation, but 1 location rises above the rest: fire.

At the university, Arrington-Thomas is studying fire ecology below the advisement of biology professor Stephen Brewer. She is researching prescribed burns and their constructive impacts on the atmosphere.

“As a educated firefighter, Alicia has had an interest in fire for pretty a even though,” Brewer stated. “She reached out to me and wanted to study additional about the science and ecology of fire.”

Arrington-Thomas’s dissertation project is titled, “Effects of Groundcover Species and Tree Leaf Litter on Fuel Consumption in Fire-Dependent Oak Woodlands.”

The Los Angeles native’s journey to Ole Miss has not been uncomplicated. As a youngster, she struggled with dyslexia. The finding out disability impacted her grades in the course of her freshman year of college at Tuskegee University.

“I had a 1.three GPA, but they didn’t give up on me,” Arrington-Thomas stated. “The dean told me they wouldn’t let me go dwelling without the need of a degree, so I was placed on academic probation.

Alicia Arrington-Thomas gained fire management encounter in the course of her time as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. Submitted photo

“I knew they couldn’t do it for me. I pushed by way of and graduated in 2002 with two bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and plant and soil science.”

Arrington-Thomas’s very first encounter in fire management came in the course of her time at Tuskegee when she was hired as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. She says it was a pivotal moment in her life that shaped each the trajectory of her profession and subsequent educational experiences.

Rick DeLappe, her supervisor at Yellowstone, chosen Arrington-Thomas from a Tuskegee recruitment list for 1 of two funded positions with the park.

“The day I picked Alicia up at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, airport, she had no thought what was about to take place – and neither did I,” DeLappe stated. “When we got to the south finish of Yellowstone, there was nevertheless 5 feet of snow on the ground. I do not consider she had ever even observed snow ahead of.

 “Alicia began off at Yellowstone without the need of any thought of what it would take to be a ranger, and she has considering the fact that embodied that spirit for an complete profession. That determination and pride in her function ethic alone is adequate to earn respect and an award. I am proud to be linked with Alicia in each way there is. She is 1 of the most effective individuals I have ever had the possibility to function with and know.”

Soon after Arrington-Thomas enrolled in the Ole Miss biology division, she was named an SEC Emerging Scholar. The selective system prepares doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers for a prospective profession in academia by supplying qualified improvement and networking possibilities.

Her most current award from the ESA is especially meaningful for Arrington-Thomas, who lives in Jackson and has been navigating the city’s water crisis with her husband and 3 young children. For months, the city’s residents have lacked dependable access to clean water.

“In my application, I wrote the truthful truth about my encounter,” she stated. “I told them my little ones can not brush their teeth without the need of working with a water bottle. We have to warm up water and use a bucket to shower. Often we do not even have adequate water stress to flush the toilet.

“These are the types of difficulties I want to take to Washington, D.C. Our Southern cities like Jackson are suffering from the lack of regulations for environmental difficulties like water and air good quality. We’re pointing fingers rather of addressing the challenges.”

Brewer stated he hopes Arrington-Thomas will acquire insight into policy and be in a position to combine that with what she’s finding out about fire ecology in his lab.

“This will let her to have a complete understanding of what all is involved with suitable, environmentally-sound fire management,” he stated. “She is a extremely challenging worker, and she actually tries to go above and beyond the minimum of what’s vital to get issues completed.

“She is, herself, a force of nature.”

By Editor

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