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Ph.D. Student Named an American Farmland Trust Research Fellow

March 8, 2023

Environmental Systems graduate student Elena BischakFourth year Environmental Systems Ph.D. student Elena Bischak has been named a research fellow by the American Farmland Trust (AFT).

The AFT Research Fellows Program aims to “empower the next generation of university-trained leaders to create meaningful positive change toward a new conventional agriculture: one that is climate-smart, diverse, soil health promoting, equitable and environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.”

Bischak, who is from Alexandria, Va., is in Professor Rebecca Ryals’ Agroecology Lab. Her research is focused on resource recovery from sanitation systems for reuse in agriculture, with a specific focus on urine fertilization. She is also interested in the many uses for biochar, from nutrient adsorption to use as soil amendment that can improve soil health and sequester soil carbon. As an AFT fellow, she will be researching the effects of biochar derived from agricultural wastes on soil carbon storage, nutrient cycling, and soil health in a local almond orchard. This fellowship provides Bichak with the opportunity to advance our understanding of closed-loop systems and the role of healthy soils in climate-smart agriculture.

“I am so pleased to be named an AFT fellow!” Bischak said. “This opportunity will help connect with me others in the field of climate-smart agriculture, expose me to new approaches to sustainable agriculture and research, and prepare me for my upcoming graduation.”