Former Student Fights Air Pollution

Faculty Members Mentor Student, Spark Her Science Career
Faculty Members Mentor Student, Spark Her Science Career

May 06, 2016

A recent chemistry graduate leaned on her Susquehanna University connections to secure a graduate school position where she conducted research into air pollution caused by oil and gas production in North Dakota's and Montana's Bakken region.

Ashley Evanoski-Cole '09, of Bangor, Pa., has earned her Ph.D. in atmospheric science at Colorado State University, the same university attended by her former professors Derek Straub and Kathy Straub, both professors of earth and environmental science. She is now an assistant professor at St. Bonaventure University in New York.

"When I first started at Susquehanna I knew I wanted to be a chemistry major and I knew I liked the weather, but didn't know atmospheric chemistry even existed," Evanoski-Cole said. "(Derek) was of course key in my learning about what it is."

While at Susquehanna, Evanoski-Cole assisted Derek Straub in his research into local air quality. The experience keenly prepared her for graduate school.

Evanoski-Cole, a sustainability leadership fellow at CSU, explored the impact of harmful air pollutants generated from oil and gas development in the Bakken region, which encompasses Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Her research group analyzed air samples in the winters of 2012-13 and 2013-14, and found that particulate matter concentrations are higher now in the Bakken region than before the oil boom.  The findings will be described in more detail in a forthcoming publication, and are outlined here.

Evanoski-Cole said that as an undergraduate, she underestimated the importance of professor-student mentoring. The tables were turned recently when the Straubs took sabbatical at CSU and worked with Evanoski-Cole.

"I never thought I'd be working with my professors," she said. "I was actually a really shy student, but I would tell others to be comfortable talking to your professors; they have a lot of good advice. The Straubs are still really good mentors to me."

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