Earth Day 2021

The environment sustains all life on Earth. It provides us with nourishment and inspiration. Our economy thrives on a healthy environment. A growing body of research tells us that time spent in nature provides physical and psychological benefits. Our personal and cultural identities are often tied to the environment around us. Yet it’s impossible not to be deeply concerned about the environmental challenges we face—from climate change and loss of species and habitats, to decreasing access to nature.

From sea to shining sea—and all the natural habitats in between—ARCS Scholars and Alumni are on the forefront of conserving, restoring, and sustaining Planet Earth. ARCS celebrates the passion and commitment of all ARCS champions of the environment. Below are just a few.

In the weeks and months ahead, we invite you to return to this growing gallery of ARCS Scholars and Alumni who are leading the way in preserving and protecting Planet Earth.

All photos provided courtesy of the Scholar or Scholar Alumnus/a

Becky Barak, PhD
ARCS Scholar 2009-11 at Northwestern University

Cultivating the Windswept Prairie  

For as long as ARCS Scholar Alumna Becky Barak has been a researcher, plants have been part of her story, and for more than 12 years, she has been trying to uncover theirs. Through the power of storytelling, she is connecting people with nature and helping bridge ecological research and community action. Read more >>>

Logan Berner, PhD
ARCS Scholar 2012-15 at Oregon State University

Raising the Alarm on the Greening of Earth’s Northern Landscapes

“The Arctic tundra is one of the coldest biomes on Earth, and it’s also one of the most rapidly warming,” warns Logan Berner, a global change ecologist and assistant research professor at Northern Arizona University. Berner led a NASA satellite study on the rapid greening across the Arctic tundra, in collaboration with scientists in the United States, Canada, Finland, and the United Kingdom. The study validates the impacts of the greening of Earth’s northern landscapes not only on the wildlife that depend on certain plants but also on the people who live in the region and depend on local ecosystems for food.

Jeffrey C. Drazen, PhD
ARCS Scholar 1997-00 at UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Warning Others of the Dangers of Deep-Sea Mining

Jeffrey C. Drazen is currently a professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu. He recently presented a talk on understanding the environmental risks of deep-sea mining. Watch the presentation here.

Haunani Kane, PhD 
ARCS Scholar 2016-17 at University of Hawaii at Manoa

Modeling Future Change in Low-Lying Islands

Using the ocean as her classroom, the sky as her chalkboard, and islands as models for sustainable living, ARCS Scholar Alumna Haunani Kane has developed a model that treats islands and their people as inseparable components. Read more >>>

David Mildrexler, PhD
ARCS Scholar 2013-16 at University of Oregon

Saving Trees Too Big to Hug

David Mildrexler met Logan Berner (see above) when they were both working toward doctoral degrees in Oregon State University’s College of Forestry. Years later, Mildrexler, currently Systems Ecologist, Eastern Oregon Legacy Lands, reached out to Berner to collaborate on a first-of-its-kind research study examining the proportion of large-diameter trees (21 inches or greater) on National Forest Lands in the Pacific Northwest, and the disproportionally large carbon storage of these trees compared to smaller ones. The study reveals that these large trees store massive amounts of carbon, highlighting their ecological importance in mitigating climate change. Read more >>>

Hilary Palevsky, PhD 
ARCS Scholar 2012-14 at University of Washington

Researching the Ocean's Carbon Dioxide Absorption  

Hilary Palesky's research combines field measurements at sea, autonomous sensor data from moorings and robots, satellite observations, and global climate model simulations to investigate how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby influencing the global carbon cycle and climate. Learn more about her research.

Channing Prend 
ARCS Scholar 2020-21 at UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Tracking Carbon Uptake in the Southern Ocean 

Channing Prend is a third-year physical oceanography PhD student. He currently works with robotics and autonomous systems to collect data on air-sea-ice and biophysical interactions in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. He recently gave a detailed presentation of his research to the ARCS San Diego chapter. You can view the video here

Chelsea Rochman, PhD
ARCS Scholar 2012-13 at University of California, San Diego

Drowning in a Sea of Plastic

Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what is out there. ARCS Scholar Alumna Chelsea Rochman sounds the alarm. Read more >>>