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Environmental Research Group Names George Mount as Director

PULLLMAN, WA — George Mount, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been named director of the new system-wide Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach (CEREO).

Through a faculty-led effort to create an interdisciplinary center on environmental research and education, CEREO was formally approved by the WSU Faculty Senate in 2006. The center is working to foster WSU system-wide, high quality environmental research, collaborative grant proposals and outreach through seminars, workshops and visiting scholars, and interactions with Washington primary and secondary schools, and to provide an environmental roadmap for prospective students interested in environmental studies within the WSU system. The center includes approximately 150 faculty members from seven colleges and all WSU campuses and is focused on environmental research in areas such as ecology and evolution of infectious diseases; economic development and environmental quality; ecosystem dynamics; water and atmospheric resources; subsurface science; environmental entrepreneurship; education for environmental literacy; and human and natural systems interaction, including global change.

“Our state, nation, and world are facing environmental challenges with ever-increasing urgency,’’ says Mount. “CEREO is providing a wonderful opportunity to bring together researchers from throughout the university system to put our collective efforts into solving these challenges. I look forward to building on our existing strengths to come up with unique and innovative solutions.’’

Earlier this spring, the group held a kick-off event, in which William Ruckelshaus was the featured speaker. Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the EPA, chairs a joint UW-WSU center named after him that addresses challenging social, economic and environmental issues. This fall, the group continues its efforts, with the establishment of a seminar series that will bring in several speakers on environmental topics. The center will also be organizing workshops on research topics of system-wide environmental interest and bringing researchers together in focused efforts to respond to announcements of opportunities from funding agencies. The group will also be putting together an overview of environmental education at WSU and creating an inventory of courses and course descriptions in environmental education for potential students. They also plan to develop an internship program for students interested in environmental research.

“This group started because grass roots faculty from throughout the university wanted to come together to solve environmental issues and raise the stature of all their efforts,’’ said WSU Provost and Executive Vice President Robert Bates. “I’m excited that their efforts are coming together with university-wide support, and I believe that George Mount is the right person to lead our environmental research to greater national prominence.’’

Mount has been a professor at WSU since 1997. His research has led to better monitoring of air pollution from space, allowing researchers to literally get a big picture of where and how pollution moves through the atmosphere. His expertise includes understanding trace gas measurements in the troposphere and stratosphere; atmospheric spectroscopy, and spectroscopic instrumentation. He worked with NASA and the Dutch government to help develop the OMI, or Ozone Monitoring Instrument, which was launched on the NASA AURA satellite in summer 2004. The instrument makes global measurements of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, and sulfur dioxide. He has worked on ecosystem carbon dioxide isotopic concentrations and fluxes to understand forest respiration of carbon and studied ammonia emissions from animal feed operations. He is heavily involved in the development of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a major new satellite project at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with launch expected in January, 2009. This new satellite will make highly accurate global measurements of carbon dioxide to identify sources and sinks of that greenhouse gas. Mount has received several NASA achievement awards for his work on rocket and satellite experiments and recently received a University-wide student research mentoring award. Before coming to WSU, he was a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Environmental Research Laboratories.

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Media Contacts

George Mount, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 509-335-3790