ABE student receives Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship

Rachel Scarlett, an ABE Ph.D. candidate, has been awarded a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Ford Foundation awarded around 36 of these fellowships through a national competition based on academic excellence, plans for a career in higher education, and a commitment to diversity in their teaching.

Rachel Scarlett, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Scarlett, who works with Prof. Sara McMillan, does interdisciplinary research using ecology and sociology to study water resources. Using urban stormwater as a case study, she investigates how stream ecosystems react to stormwater management and how local, often marginalized communities are engaged in the water management process. The working title of her dissertation is “Rhythms of Urban Rivers: A Socio-ecological Investigation of Stormwater.”

For Scarlett, learning that she had received the Fellowship, was a “great surprise” at a difficult time in which several family members were battling COVID-19. “It brought me and my family great joy,” she said.

The Fellowship will allow Scarlett to spend this coming year focusing on writing her dissertation “to tune out all distractions and tune into my dissertation.” The award, administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, provides $28,000 and access to The Conference of Ford Fellows and networking with current and former Fellows. Scarlett also holds a George Washington Carver Fellowship from The Graduate School at Purdue.

After graduating, Scarlett wants to have a career in academia, training graduate students to use interdisciplinary research to bring new perspectives to solving environmental problems. In her work, Scarlett wants to channel civil right leader Ella Baker’s belief in cultivating and amplifying marginalized voices “often silenced” in environmental research and management.