Nicole Gasparini — 20th GSA-USGS Congressional Science Fellow. Nicole worked in the office of Congressman Edward Markey (MA — 7th district). September 2005 through August 2006.
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Congressional Science Fellowship
Hall of Fame
Nicole Gasparini was chosen as the GSA-U.S. Geological Survey Congressional Science Fellow for 2005-2006. Gasparini's research focuses on the physics of fluvial processes and how rivers shape Earth's surface, and she has explored the effects of climate and tectonics on landscape evolution over many different time scales. Gasparini was drawn to this research because water and erosion are closely tied to many social and political issues. She is interested in the way that humans affect and are affected by riverine environments.
Gasparini earned a B.S. in applied mathematics and a B.A. in physical geography from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, in 1995. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center summer institute on atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences. She later attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she completed an S.M. in 1998 and earned a Ph.D. in 2003 in hydrology from the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. While at MIT, she received the NASA Earth System Science Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Hydrology Fellowship. She comes to Washington, D.C., after spending two years at Yale University in the department of Geology and Geophysics as the Bateman Postdoctoral Fellow. The interdisciplinary nature of geomorphology is reflected in Gasparini's broad background in the earth sciences.
As a graduate student, Gasparini participated in a team project to design a numerical landscape evolution model (CHILD). One of the applications of this model was to understand gully erosion on U.S. Army bases in Colorado. Her team worked with land managers and other Army scientific personnel. "It wasn't always easy to share scientific findings with other scientists in similar fields and with similar goals. After this experience, I realized how challenging it must be to communicate scientific ideas with policymakers," said Gasparini. She believes that a critical but often overlooked part of the scientific process is proper dissemination of findings beyond the scientific community. She is excited to have the opportunity to work in the political arena and use her scientific knowledge outside of the laboratory.
Gasparini considers it to be a great privilege to participate in the fellowship program and to play a role in shaping environmental and scientific policy. "There are many pertinent political issues related to earth science, such as climate change and energy use, that need to be addressed now and in the coming years. I hope that after my experience as a congressional fellow, I will continue to be a strong voice for science in policy and that I can encourage my colleagues in the earth sciences to get involved as well."