Meet GradCAP: A Virtual Climate Lab for Graduate Students

GradCAP Scholar and project co-manager Sonja Birthisel sports a GradCAP baseball cap outside her office at University of Maine.

What do these have in common - songbirds, soil bacteria, farmer decision-making, and mathematical watershed modeling? 

They are all diverse research topics of GradCAP Scholars. And the connection is their shared focus on adapting to climate change. GradCAP, which is short for , is a pilot, virtual lab project. The lab engages graduate students in the mission and work of the . Participating scholars share their research and expertise across the lab’s geographic, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries. The goals of this project include peer-to-peer networking, professional development, and collaborations. 

How does a virtual lab work?

The current cohort of represent six USDA Northeast Climate Hub partner institutions, that range geographically from West Virginia to Maine. As a virtual lab, GradCAP Scholars meet through periodic video conferencing calls. This past spring, lab meetings featured guest presentations from USDA Northeast Climate Hub leadership and affiliates, followed by group discussions. Beginning in October, the Scholars will run the show. The current research of our Scholars will be presented in a series of bi-weekly webinars. These meetings are open to the public and will be archived online for later viewing. We hope you’ll tune in! 

GradCAP Webinar Series
Date and Time
This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on soil carbon dynamics, beneficial rhizobacteria, and plant temperature tolerance.  Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 2-3pm 

Brooke Eastman, Sarah Mills, and Bill Erickson

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on sustainable watershed utilization, changing soil moisture on farms, and shifting bird habitats. Thursday, October 18, 2018, 12-1pm

Manashi Paul, Sonja Birthisel and Gordon Dimmig

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on farmer decision-making, hayfield management, and crop yield modeling. Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 2-3pm

Alissa White, Brogan Tooley and Mike Allen

This GradCAP webinar will feature presentations on temperature and surfclam rearing, and the use of kelp farming to dampen ocean waves. Thursday, November 15, 2018, 2-3pm

Mike Acquafredda and Longhuan Zhu

Changing Farm Management [More information coming soon] Tuesday, November 27, 10-11am 

Ruth Sexton, Kyle M. Dittmer and Joe Walls

How are Scholars selected? 

GradCAP is open to Masters and Doctoral students whose research involves climate adaptation in agriculture, aquaculture, or forestry. Potential Scholars are nominated by a faculty or staff person affiliated with one of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub’s 16 . Do you know someone who would be a great fit for GradCAP? If so, please send details to Sonja Birthisel (). Nominations are still being accepted. GradCAP is especially looking to welcome Scholars from USDA Northeast Climate Hub university partner schools not yet represented in the current group. 

This virtual lab for graduate students is co-managed by one of the current GradCAP Scholars. University of Maine’s Sonja Birthisel, works with Dr. Ivan Fernandez, Professor of Soil Science, on organizing and leading this initiative.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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