By Shannon Sigafoos

Katie Kavanagh ’21 recognizes that climate change is a defining issue of our time and that we are at a defining moment. The environmental science and international affairs major is “focused on these two majors out of concern for the impacts of climate change on our planet’s ecosystems and human societies, and my desire to be involved in developing and advocating for solutions that allow for communities to equitably adapt to these changes.” 

Katie Kavanagh wears a mask and holds a crab in a lab

Katie Kavanagh

For the last two years, Kavanagh has been doing research in the lab of Megan Rothenberger ’02, associate professor of biology, which has given her the opportunity to explore critical scientific issues in the conservation and restoration ecology fields while gaining experience with lab and fieldwork. Kavanagh is researching management response to the invasion of two crabs, the Asian shore crab and Chinese mitten crab, in the Hudson-Raritan estuary. This research builds off previous students’ work in Rothenberger’s lab that looked into the distribution and impacts of these two crabs within the local environment.

“Dr. Rothenberger has been a very supportive adviser who has encouraged me to explore my interests in the field of environmental restoration and management,” says Kavanagh. “I’ve also really appreciated learning from Prof. [Andrea] Armstrong (EVST) and Prof. [Cory] Fischer-Hoffman (IA), because they have challenged me to think critically about the world and have fueled my interest in studying and pursuing future work in the environment and international affairs.”

Kavanagh has been busy this semester conducting lab experiments to fill gaps in the limited knowledge we have about food competition dynamics between the Asian shore crab and native blue crab (pictured). She hopes to gain work experience for a few years before applying to grad schools to study environmental management.

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Categorized in: Academic News, Environmental Science, Innovation and Research, International Affairs, News and Features, STEM, Students