UNH graduate student wins prestigious Switzer Fellowship

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

UNH's Olivia Bartlett
Olivia Bartlett is UNH's latest Switzer Fellow.

Olivia Bartlett, a doctoral candidate in the Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science program, is the latest UNH student to receive a sought-after Switzer Environmental Fellowship.

“The goal of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program is to support highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies are directed toward improving environmental quality and who clearly demonstrate leadership potential in their field,” explains Jeanne Sokolowski, director of UNH’s Office of National Fellowships. Each year, 20 Switzer Fellows are named from a pool of more than 300 applicants. Bartlett joins other COLSA Switzer fellows including Henry Herndon, who received the award last year.

“I’m delighted that Olivia’s accomplishments, and the early career promise she exemplifies, have been recognized through the highly prestigious Switzer Fellowship,” says College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) Dean Jon Wraith. “She joins an exceptional group of COLSA graduate students who have received this accolade, a strong testament to our tremendous faculty members, programs and partnerships that help our graduate students excel.”

Bartlett’s $15,000 Switzer award includes funding for graduate study, training to help develop leadership skills and access to the Switzer Fellowship Network.

“I was excited to learn that I was awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship and grateful for the support of Jeanne Sokolowski and the Office of National Fellowships, which helped me prepare my application," Bartlett says. “I am particularly looking forward to collaborating and staying engaged with my cohort beyond the career path I have chosen.” Bartlett, who received her Master of Science degree from Plymouth State University in environmental science and policy, is currently a Pathways Student Trainee with the USDA Forest Service.

In the announcement of this year’s fellows, Lissa Widoff, the Switzer Foundation’s executive director, notes, “The 2017 fellows represent the diversity of environmental issues, leadership approaches and backgrounds that are essential to face today’s environmental problems.” Bartlett is in the company of fellow exemplary scholars from universities including Yale, MIT and Harvard.

"My experience as a Ph.D. student at UNH has exceeded all my goals for graduate school." 

Bartlett’s research involves changes in soil chemistry and forest productivity across the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). “This is a collaborative project between the WMNF, Forest Service Northern Research Station and UNH that directly informs forest monitoring, forest management and soil quality standards,” she explains.

She is using field data to validate remote-sensing approaches: “The objectives of my dissertation are to investigate decadal soil chemistry change across the WMNF by genetic horizons; explore various soil characteristics as site-quality predictors for forest productivity; and identify how the relationship between soil and forest attributes can be further explained using metrics derived from airborne and terrestrial LiDAR,” she says, referring to Light Detection and Ranging, a surveying method.

“The mentorship of my advisor Mark Ducey and my graduate committee has been the most rewarding part of my graduate work,” Bartlett says of her time so far in UNH’s COLSA. “My experience as a Ph.D. student at UNH has exceeded all my goals for graduate school.”

Interested in a Switzer Fellowship? Contact the Office of National Fellowships for details.