Erica Smithwick, associate professor of geography, received a Fulbright award to research carbon storage in trees and teach a course in South Africa.

Professor awarded Fulbright to study tree carbon storage, teach in South Africa

In January 2016, Penn State associate professor of geography Erica Smithwick will have the opportunity to greatly expand the scope of the ecological research portfolio she has been building for several years in South Africa. The recipient of a prestigious Core Fulbright U.S. Scholarship, Smithwick will spend six months investigating how much carbon is stored in trees in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, and how that could impact global warming. She will also teach a course on sustainability at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Scientists call for ambitious program to unlock the power of Earth's microbial communities

A consortium of 48 scientists from 50 institutions in the United States has called for an ambitious research effort to understand and harness microbiomes - the communities of microorganisms that inhabit ecosystems as varied as the human gut and the ocean, to improve human health, agriculture, bioenergy, and the environment.

Their proposal, published in the October 30 issue of the journal Science, calls for a major research project to develop new research tools and collaborations that will unlock the secrets of Earth's microbial communities.

Kerby holding a drone

Ecology on the wing

Drones have been flying over the Ugalla Forest in western Tanzania. Far from being part of a military operation, these drones are being used to map chimpanzee habitat as part of an international research collaboration.