A West Virginia University graduate student has been recognized for her research into production of alternative fuels in spent mine lands.

Carol Brown, a master’s candidate in soil science in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, received a $1,500 scholarship from the National Association of State Land Reclamationists.

Brown’s thesis research focuses on the quality and yield of switchgrass grown on reclaimed surface mines for biofuel production.

After earning her undergraduate degree at Ohio State, Brown began her graduate studies under Jeff Skousen, a professor of soil science in the Davis College and land reclamation specialist for WVU Extension.

“As an undergraduate, I specialized in ecological engineering because of the focus on habitat restoration,” said Brown, of Avon, Ohio. “I knew that a master’s degree in soil science would fill in the gaps left with my engineering degree.

“Soil science is such a crucial part of the reclamation of new and abandoned mine lands that I jumped at the chance when I was offered the position at WVU,” Brown added.

Even before beginning her graduate studies, she accrued significant field experience. In 2011, she worked with a team to conduct natural resources research in the forests of Guangxi Province, China. In 2010, she conducted field work related to pollinator restoration on reclaimed mine land in Cumberland, Ohio.

At WVU, she’s guided others through the research process as an EnvironMentor, helping an area high school student develop her own independent research project.

“My job was to motivate and guide my students as they conducted their research over the course of the school year,” Brown said. “The project we worked on focused on reducing acid mine drainage with sulfate reducing bacteria.”

Upon completing her degree, Brown hopes to eventually work as a habitat reclamation specialist or project manager responsible for the research, development, and implementation of mine reclamation or forest restoration projects.



CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design
304-293-2394, david.welsh@mail.wvu.edu

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