Emerging environmental leader earns prestigious Switzer Fellowship

Kimberley Rain Miner, Ph.D. candidate in Earth and climate sciences at the University of Maine, was recently selected as a Switzer Environmental Fellow by the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.

This year, the Switzer Foundation awarded 20 fellowships of $15,000 each for emerging environmental leaders who are pursuing graduate degrees and are dedicated to positive environmental change — which is pretty much Miner’s motto.

Focusing on communication between cultures and disciplines, Miner is a knowledge broker for scientists, policymakers, and the public in order to develop solutions to address climate change.

The second-year doctoral student has traveled to some of the world’s coldest climates to study pollutants that are trapped — and released during a warming event — from glaciers.

Between the years of 1960 and 2004, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as DDT, dioxin and PCB have been released into the atmosphere and deposited by precipitation in glaciers around the world. Although this family of compounds is released in very small amounts (think parts per million), they are extremely resistant to environmental degradation.

Miner’s research focuses on developing risk assessment models for the release of legacy pollutants — chemicals released into the environment that have long-lasting effects — in glacial outflows. She aims to develop a framework to assess the conditions under which glacial release of POPs are a risk to the health of downstream communities.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Miner received a B.A in environmental science from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a M.P.A in environmental science and policy from Columbia University.

Miner was recently awarded numerous grants and fellowships including a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant, a Science, Mathematics & Research for Transformation (SMART) Graduate fellowship. She’s currently a fellow in the Climate Change Institute’s Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT).