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UMCES ecologist Margaret Palmer recognized for promoting the role of science in public policy

Solomons, Md. (April 19, 2010) Chesapeake Biological Laboratory Director Dr. Margaret Palmer has been honored by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science with its President's Award for Excellence in Science Application for her work informing policymakers and the public about the environmental impacts of mountaintop mining.

"Day in and day out, Dr. Palmer seeks to expand the impact of her research beyond academia and into the realm of public policy," said UMCES President Dr. Donald F. Boesch. "This type of scientific and policy leadership embodies the evolving role scientists must play in society. By introducing accurate, scientifically-supported assessments into policy discussions, Dr. Palmer has helped our nation continue farther down the road toward environmental sustainability."

Dr. Palmer's recent work detailing the environmental impacts of mountaintop mining has helped call attention to the controversial practice. In mountaintop mining, upper elevation forests are cleared and stripped of topsoil, and explosives are used to break up rocks in order to access coal buried below. Much of this rock is pushed into adjacent valleys where it buries and obliterates streams. Her research was recently published in the well-respected journal Science.

"Dr. Palmer's research and that of her world-class team have demonstrated with alarming clarity that this mining practice destroys mountains and streams and also poisons the water, wildlife and people who depend on it. This damage is so severe that it can never be reversed," said U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin. "When we in government finally put an end to mountaintop removal mining in this country, it will be thanks in no small part to the results of her work."

Throughout her career, Dr. Palmer has sought to understand what controls stream ecosystem structure and function. She specifically focuses on restoration ecology and how land use, hydrology and geomorphology influence the health of running-water ecosystems. Her current research evaluating stream ecosystem functions in Coastal Plain lowlands of Maryland and restoration effectiveness and evaluating the potential for stream restoration to enhance nitrogen removal in Chesapeake Bay tributaries has been critical in guiding the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort.


Contact: Christopher Conner
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

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