Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute provides second round of funding to researchers

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Sacred forest around Ethiopian church.

Researchers are investigating whether and how cultural and religious stewardship of sacred forests reduces negative impacts on these compromised ecosystems.

A second year of funding provided by the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate will allow faculty researchers to further their exploration of the cultural and religious stewardship of sacred forest ecosystems in Ethiopia.

Damhnait McHugh, director of the institute, announced the award to Colgate professors Catherine Cardelús (biology), Eliza Kent (religion), Peter Klepeis (geography), Peter Scull (geography), and Carrie Woods (biology). They are collaborating with Izabela Orlowska and Alemayehu Wassie Eshete, both of Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia.

The $90,000 research award will allow the researchers to continue their assessment of Ethiopian forests maintained as sacred sites around Christian Orthodox Tewahido churches.

The team’s first year of research indicate that the planting of non-native trees, geographic location, varying methods of grove maintenance, and community identity, all affect these forest ecosystems.

The latest grant will allow the team to analyze its findings and continue to work closely with local Ethiopian communities as they plan to conserve the forests.

Also receiving institute funding earlier this year was Jonathan Levine, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Colgate, who was awarded $30,000 to study laser-atom interactions in a mass spectrometer for dating Martian rocks. This study is in collaboration with F. Scott Anderson and Tom J. Whitaker of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado.

In addition, Krista Ingram, associate professor of biology at Colgate, received a two-year award for her work on the influence of circadian rhythms and gene-by-environment interactions on human behavior with colleagues Allan Filipowicz (Cornell University), Neil Bearden (INSEAD, Singapore), and Kriti Jain (IE Business School, Madrid).