July 5, 2015

Gillian Galford

Student Profile – Gillian Galford


Hometown:Portland, Oregon
Undergraduate School: A.B. ’04 Washington University in St. Louis, Earth & Planetary Sciences
Graduate School: Brown University & MBL Joint Program

Why did you choose the Brown/MBL program?
There’s a number of reasons this program seemed perfect for me. The combination of study and research between the two institutions was exactly what I was looking for. This program allows me to work in the environmental sciences, with a base in earth sciences, as a graduate student in the Brown Department of Geological Sciences and The Ecosystems Center at MBL. I believe the strengths of these two institutions, together, in my areas of academic interest offers me the widest range and depth of learning and research opportunities available. Additionally, there is tremendous enthusiasm for fostering my collaboration on the part of professors and faculty at both institutions. Working with people who are excited about our research and mentorship is inspiring. My previous educational experiences led me to look for an opportunity such as this. These experiences had reinforced to me the need to understand natural systems and the impacts that human uses have had on those systems. The Brown-MBL joint program is an ideal fit for me — I can approach environmental sustainability by exploring earth systems science while incorporating study of the human component of environmental systems.

What are you studying?
I am graduate student in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown University and the Ecosystems Center at the MBL. At Brown, I am part of the Land Use and Land Cover Change (LULCC) group where I work with Professor John Mustard. Through work with The Ecosystems Center and my advisor Jerry Melillo, I apply studies of land use and land cover change in terrestrial ecosystems to biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen. By combining remote sensing, GIS, in situ geochemical measurements and ecosystem modeling, we will better understand the spatial distribution of temporal changes on the landscape due to human activities, the impacts on global carbon and nitrogen cycles, and implications for agricultural and environmental sustainability, biodiversity and climate change. I believe one of the strengths of this program is that I get to take courses at Brown in Geological Sciences and Environmental Sciences as well as future courses at The Ecosystems Center in global biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems modeling.