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Jennifer Richmond-Bryant

Assoc Prof of the Practice

Jordan Hall Addition 2221


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Date: 01/15/21 - 1/14/26
Amount: $262,500.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

Environmental justice (EJ) is an academic and a policy framework intended to help count the full societal costs of decisions about environmental management, food production, and other activities, including many within the purview of the US Department of Agriculture. However, scientists and other professionals in agriculture and natural resources rarely encounter EJ in their academic training. Fewer still have research experiences or hands-on training that centers on EJ. This project will recruit and mentor doctoral students who will gain a strong working knowledge EJ policy and its intersections with other areas of expertise within Forestry and Environmental Resources. Students will acquire research skills and leadership experiences related to implementation of EJ policies and analytical frameworks within their knowledge domains. The project will recruit students from diverse backgrounds, and especially those with demonstrable commitments to marginalized communities on whom EJ policies often center. To accomplish this, the project will take advantage of North Carolina State University’s critical mass of EJ scholars and existing partnerships with Tribes and community-based groups. Careful recruiting and mentoring will ensure that students are successful. Deep integration of EJ and related topics into curricula will ensure that students have a firm grasp of EJ that complements other academic work. Internships and specialized training will help students be prepared for future leadership. Benchmarks will assess success of the project, including the extent to which it advances the USDA goal of “increas(ing) the number, quality and diversity of students in the food, agricultural and related sciences.”

Date: 05/26/23 - 12/31/25
Amount: $100,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

We propose a scalable program to provide specialized training and development in fire sciences closely related to forest management among current undergraduate students, selected directly from partner-Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and participating HBCU students interested in graduate studies in fire-related disciplines. We propose a Summer Research and Training Fellowship (SRTF) at the undergraduate level that is tied directly to USFS Research and Development (R&D) Southern Research Station (SRS) work units. The program will be designed and implemented through a partnership among the USFS SRS, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), Southern University (SU), and North Carolina State University (NCSU). We will hold the eight-week SRTF program for 10 rising seniors from undergraduate programs in fields such as Forestry, Natural Resources, and Environmental Sciences to gain specialized training in wildfire-specific forest management, with a special focus on fire management for urban forestry impacting vulnerable communities. Training modules will include pre- and post-burn biomass assessment, hydrologic and water quality impacts of fire, air quality impacts of fire, the impact of fire on ecosystem health, geospatial analytics application to prescribed burn planning and wildland fire impact assessment, and community engagement to help vulnerable communities manage fire impacts. During the SRTF program, the students will be introduced to several pathways for a career in the USFS, including entry at the undergraduate level and careers for fire scientists with graduate degrees. The students will have an opportunity for field immersion to explore a pathway to USFS work after graduation. The participants will also receive some exposure to fire management field research and prescribed fire/fuels management plans to obtain hands-on experience and exposure to research by working with NC A&T, SU, NCSU, and USFS SRS research scientists. Participants will be brought to field sites to perform a variety of fire planning assignments and to collect data on biomass fuel assessment ahead of prescribed burns. They will then learn to analyze these data to determine the presence or absence of hazardous fuels and to predict outcomes of the burn events. The Public Land Corps (PLC) can place students with partner organizations for 640 hours of paid on-the-job training that will provide participants who complete the program with a certificate that can be used to apply for USFS positions under a 2-year non-competetive hiring authority for entry-level USFS positions (GS-3/4/5) To facilitate this path for interested SRTF participants, representatives from partner organizations (e.g., Conservation Legacy) will interface with the participants, who will be mentored on how to procure paid fire management internships through these organizations and will have an opportunity to shadow existing interns in the field. Training will occur on the campus of NCSU, cooperating experimental forest (Hill Forest, Bahama, NC), and the National Forests of North Carolina (e.g., Uwharrie National Forest), which is managed by the USFS. Mentorship sessions will be held throughout the program to give each student individual advisement on their career development strategies. Community-building activities for the student cohort in the program will develop bonds and form close friendships that will enhance both their professional and personal trajectories into adulthood. The SRTF program is expected to solidify the HBCU students’ plans for a career related to forest management and fire impacts.

Date: 03/01/20 - 1/31/24
Amount: $116,244.00
Funding Agencies: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Data indicate a disproportionate COVID-19 impact on Black residents of Louisiana. As of April 26, 2020, the United States (U.S.) has more confirmed coronavirus cases per capita than any other country, and Louisiana has the third highest rates of COVID-19 cases and the second highest deaths per capita in the country. Of 1,644 reported Louisiana deaths to date, 56% are of Black race. Louisiana’s industrial corridor (IC), an area along the Mississippi River densely populated with petrochemical factories, is home to 44% of Black residents and 30% of residents living below the poverty line in the state. The IC is responsible for 64% of statewide TRI emissions for 2018. The IC includes the parishes of West and East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Ascension, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, and Plaquemines. Together, these parishes comprise 67% of Louisiana’s COVID-19 cases and 68% of Louisiana’s COVID-19 deaths. Our hypothesis is that elevated COVID-19 death rates among Black IC residents is associated with long-term exposure to HAPs emissions and distrust in the information about the disease received from government and media sources. Our study of racial disparities in COVID-19 mortality risk will use a mixed methods approach integrating epidemiologic and ethnographic analysis to determine impacts of HAPs exposure on COVID-19 outcomes: 1) We will examine the associations between COVID-19 case and death rates with industrial emissions of HAPs by race and concentrated disadvantage; 2) We will explore the experiences of IC residents to understand how long-standing HAPs exposures and concentrated disadvantage may undermine public trust to influence COVID-19 outcomes. Insights from this study will be synthesized into policy recommendations designed to understand special health risks stemming from long-term HAPs exposure and promote trust in information distributed by credible sources among IC residents during subsequent waves of COVID-19. All findings will be communicated to the public, with special attention to residents of the IC, and we will share our protocols with state health and environmental officials to improve health assessments for IC residents.

Date: 02/01/20 - 1/31/24
Amount: $706,985.00
Funding Agencies: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

This study addresses questions related to human exposure to environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs), a recently discovered class of pollutant species found at Superfund sites and formed during certain thermal treatment processes. It is unclear how long EPFRs persist when compared with other components of particulate matter (PM), and this research will provide information about the extent and duration of exposures nearby thermal treatment processes. This research will also provide information about exposure to EPFRs in homes and how concentrations of EPFRs correlate with noise and other co-stressors.

Date: 04/01/23 - 12/31/23
Amount: $18,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives of the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) have expressed a need for staff training on data analysis and presentation skills, including but not limited to work in spreadsheets, basic statistical analyses, mapping, and how to discuss analysis results. This training will be developed at a level for staff members without substantial experience in data management or analysis. Students who complete the training should emerge with an understanding of fundamental steps in data analysis and the readiness to initiate, complete, visualize, and effectively communicate high quality data analyses within EPA.

Date: 09/24/21 - 12/31/23
Amount: $50,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Forest Service

This program aims to attract, recruit, retain, and successfully graduate highly-skilled, career-ready candidates to fill USDA Forest Service critical job series within the Southern Research Station (SRS), the Forest Service nation-wide, and/or complementary supporting agencies and industries. Researchers and the SRS will help ensure the development of these skills and their utmost importance to the agency by serving on each of the student’s graduate research committees. This role is important as it helps to set research direction, provides mentorship and relationship-building with the students and faculty involved. Where possible, faculty from the students’ former HBCU/MSI institution will also be included as a part of the research guidance committee. Students will also meet with SRS leadership for further relationship development and exposure to the USDA Forest Service as an employer of choice.

Date: 04/01/20 - 12/31/23
Amount: $96,459.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

In North Carolina, poultry is the top agricultural industry with an economic impact of more than $37 billion, employing over 146,000 people. Although, the main heating fuel for poultry houses is propane, recent pilot studies in the state have shown that wood pellets may be a cheaper heating fuel. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that wood pellet-heated poultry houses also produce better chicken survival, health, and growth. Our goal is to comprehensively assess the technical and economic feasibility of producing pellets specifically for the poultry industry in the Western NC, where a great proportion of broiler and ‘backyard’ poultry farms are located. As the economics of poultry farming is heavily dependent on mortality and overall growth/productivity of chicken, we will examine how wood pellet-based heating affects indoor air quality and health of the broiler chickens in the poultry houses. Our project results will demonstrate if this fuel is cost-effective and sustainable for poultry production to facilitate decision-making about poultry house fuel selection. Additionally, our project will generate information about potential income enhancements associated with pellet-based poultry heating.

Date: 10/01/19 - 9/30/22
Amount: $12,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

The poultry industry has an economic impact of over $37 billion for the state of North Carolina, creating 146,125 jobs in the state as of 2017. However, ammonia exposure from chicken waste creates a respiratory hazard to those poultry farm workers. Recent efforts by NC State Extension and farm operations partners for sustainable improvements to poultry production have involved adoption of wood pellets to fuel furnaces in hen houses. This dry heat has been shown to improve broiler chicken survival, growth, and quality. Contemporaneously, farm operators and workers have shared anecdotes of reduced odors in hen houses using dry wood pellet heat. We hypothesize that lower humidity in wood pellet-heated hen houses results in less production of ammonium aerosols and hence in lower exposures for poultry farm workers. Initial screening by Carolina Land & Lakes Resource Conservation and Development supports this hypothesis, but more work is needed to demonstrate that the dry heat produced by wood pellet combustion, compared with more humid air found during propane combustion, leads to lower ammonium exposures. We propose to compare ammonia concentrations in sets of hen houses from different poultry farms in Western North Carolina that use wood pellet or propane heat but are otherwise identical. A combination of continuous and integrated ammonia detectors will be used for this pilot study. Anticipated follow-up work includes sampling a greater suite of air pollutants, capturing greater spatial and temporal resolution within the hen houses, and including both personal and area samplers of particulate matter, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in the hen houses.

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