CES Funded Summer Adventures: Rosa Kirk-Davidoff '21 and Summer-Solstice Thomas '20


Rosa checking out seedlings!

This week’s log lunch we heard about the CES-funded summer adventures of Rosa Kirk-Davidoff ’21 and Summer-Solstice Thomas ‘20. Rosa worked at the Paleoecology and Fire Ecology Lab at the University of Montana. She learned about the history of forest fires in Missoula, Montana including the indigenous history of intentional burning and then the later effects of fire suppression by the Forest Service. Rosa lived in Missoula and worked with a PhD student studying how the forests recover after fires. She spent 6 weeks counting, measuring, and identifying conifer seedlings in burned areas to support the project. To study the history of fires in the larger region, she then worked on another project that involved going out to glacial lakes and taking sediment cores. The work that Rosa and the rest of the research team conducted last summer will help scientists understand the forest’s response to fire, an important topic in a time when forest fires may become more common with the effects of climate change.

Summer-Solstice in a brainstorming meeting with Lois and other team members.

Summer-Solstice Thomas worked at the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), an organization founded and run by Lois Gibbs. Gibbs led the Love Canal campaign that eventually led Congress to establish the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). As an intern, Summer worked directly under Lois and they worked on brainstorming a new policy initiative for Sacrifice Zones. Sacrifice Zones are places of concentrated industry, usually located in communities of color, that are burdened with intense pollution as a result of the strong industry presence. After extensive research, they came up with a new policy for air pollution regulations aimed at protecting communities in Sacrifice Zones. As an effort to involve the communities that the legislation would affect, CHEJ is launching a “Sacrifice Zone Tour” this fall where they will get feedback and input from communities in Sacrifice Zones. Summer was intimately involved with the formation of this policy and she plans to stay involved with the project into the spring semester and beyond.

By Cristina Mancilla