USF graduate environmental management student Lisa Pezzino, pictured here studying well water in Honduras, is a National Science Foundation fellowship winner.
When Lisa Pezzino earned a prestigious fellowship from the
National Science Foundation, she had the chance to study at any university in
the country. She chose the University of San Francisco.
Pezzino, now a student in USF’s master’s program in
environmental management, was looking for a program that focused on more than
the science aspect to environmental studies. She was drawn to what she
describes as USF’s “holistic” approach to studying the environment, integrating
a strong science aspect with coursework on such topics as environmental law and
sustainable environmental economic theory.
“I wanted a more well-rounded education, not a straight
environmental engineering program,” said Pezzino, who is in her second year of
the two-year program and holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental
engineering. “When I came across USF’s program, it just felt perfect for me.”
The fellowship, awarded to about 1,000 students nationwide
each year, is given to those who want to pursue a degree in the sciences and
contribute to society in a positive way, whether through an invention,
research, or related work. The fellowship pays for most of Pezzino’s tuition
(USF is covering the remainder) as well as a stipend for living expenses.
Pezzino is the first NSF fellow in the environmental
management program at USF.
“It’s unusual for our program because we don’t have a
research focus,” said John Callaway, program director and associate professor
of environmental management. “The program has been around for 30 years and is
one of the longer running environmental management programs, but it has more of
a professional focus. We’re really excited that she was interested in our
program and that there is an opportunity for her to do research related to what
she and faculty are doing.”
As part of the fellowship, Pezzino is completing a master’s
thesis instead of a master’s project. The thesis will be based on original
research she began gathering data for last summer—she is helping restore native
Hawaiian fishponds in the southeast corner of Oahu. As part of that, she is
studying the local hydrology, specifically examining the flow of groundwater
that had entered fishponds before infrastructure projects diverted it.
“The program has allowed me to further explore an
interdisciplinary approach to environmental issues, and has provided me the
opportunity to work on a project that takes me out of the laboratory and into
the community,” Pezzino said. “In my opinion, this is an important step for the
future of science and effective resource management.”