The goal of the Young Investigator Scholarship is to bring assistance and attention to emerging young professionals in the field of compost research and to spark interest in the future of the composting industry.
The CCREF Young Investigator Scholarship focuses on supporting undergraduate through PhD students from a college or university in the United States. The research project must be ongoing during the term of the grant and be research in the fields of composting and compost use. More specifically, the ideal candidate will have interest in improving the compost process and the application and the utilization of finished compost to increase drought tolerance, soil nutrient content, reducing erosion and water pollution, and increasing carbon storage in soils to combat climate change.
This scholarship is offered annually. Please check back in early 2019 to see the new dates for applying.
Meet the Two Winners of a Young Investigator Scholarship
Donald De Alwis is currently studying towards dual degrees in Environmental Science and Public Health Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He specializes in environmental health, and enjoys exploring the interface between humans and the environment. He hopes to continue researching the human-environment nexus after his bachelor’s degree through a graduate or professional degree program.
Donald’s project focuses on the use of locally sourced compost to facilitate hydric soil conditions in wetland restoration. He will use cow manure and Bloom, a biosolid produced by a local water utility company, at three different cure times. Through a soil microcosm experiment, he will analyze ferrous iron and methane production with the intention of determining which soil amendment and cure time maximizes microbial activity while reducing greenhouse gas production. The results of the experiment will determine the feasibility of a novel use for compost, and will inform restoration practices for Maryland’s vast wetland ecosystems.
Sally Landefeld received a BA in chemistry from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Upon realizing that many preventable chronic diseases stem from lifestyle and food nutritional quality, Sally changed her plans to attend medical school and left the biomedical research field to focus on the root of the issue: soil health. She earned a MS in Environmental Science and Engineering from Oregon Health and Science University in 2017 and is pursuing a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington.
Sally’s research aims to characterize the relationship between soil health and plant health: Does healthier soil grow healthier food? This project is looking at common garden crops grown in four types of soil amendments: composted biosolids from Pierce County (TAGRO), composted biosolids from King County (GroCo), vermicompost, and bokashi. These soils will be tested for a suite of chemical, physical, and biological properties to characterize the soil health, and crops are undergoing analysis for macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, and phytonutrients that act as potent antioxidants. Sally is hoping that her project may help “close the loop” on urban waste, provide fertile soil to local urban gardens, and sequester carbon in the form of soil organic matter.