Gulf research program awards Lauren Fuess early-career research fellowship 

SAN MARCOS – Lauren Fuess, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Texas State University, is one of eight researchers nationally selected for the Gulf Research Program’s Environmental Protection and Stewardship track of the 2021 Early-Career Research Fellowship (ECRF) from the Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

During the two-year program, fellows will pursue research that advances understanding of the changing ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico and its U.S. coastal zones.

The Gulf is home to several ecosystems, including estuaries, oyster reefs, beaches and dunes, mangroves, and offshore shoals and banks. These ecosystems are instrumental to the socio-economic and cultural life of the region, providing benefits such as food, clean air and water, recreational opportunities, and tourism and raw materials.

However, these ecosystems will continue to shift with climate change, urbanization, and increased demand for food, water, and energy. For example, climate change may influence the sustainability of the water supply for ecosystems, which will have implications for the Gulf region’s residents and marine life. There is a critical need to predict and anticipate these changes to allocate natural resources in an equitable way while protecting the environment.

The ECRF Fellows will investigate specific issues related to the Gulf’s changing ecosystems, with the goal of producing research that informs decisions that enhance environmental protection and stewardship.

Their research might consider how different ecosystems interact with one another; identify critical thresholds that, if met, may reduce or eliminate ecosystem services; and guide stakeholders in weighing trade-offs among the various ecosystem services to make better-informed decisions.

The ECRF award is not attached to a specific project, which allows fellows to explore bold, untested research ideas that they might not otherwise be able to pursue. Fuess will receive a $76,000 financial award, mentoring support, and a built-in community of current and past cohorts.

To learn more about the Gulf Research Program’s Early-Career Research Fellowships, visit nationalacademies.org/our-work/early-career-research-fellowship.

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