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Emily Sanders and Eric Mbonimpa

Emily Sanders and Eric Mbonimpa

Former ESE students, Eric Gentil Mbonimpa, Ph.D. and Emily Sanders, M.S., currently conduct research at the US EPA Office of Research and Development in the Landscape Ecology Branch located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eric and Emily joined a fellow Purdue ABE graduate, Li-chi Chiang, Ph.D. who has been conducting research in the US EPA Landscape Ecology Branch since December 2009. All three students work under the supervision and direction of Dr. Yongping Yuan, a hydrologist with USEPA since 2009.

After graduating from Purdue's ESE program in May 2010 with a M.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Emily traveled internationally before spending brief stint working at an environmental consulting firm. She also accompanied a medical mission to Haiti in February 2011 before accepting the student contractor position with the US EPA in April. Her research is focused on the sustainability of water resources in watersheds located in the semi-arid southwest which is a part of the EPA's Southwest Ecosystem Services Project (SwESP). SwESP is a comprehensive research effort to study ecosystem services and the benefits they provide to human well-being. To fulfill project objectives, Emily has been using current and historical hydrologic and landuse/landcover data to model watersheds in southern Arizona in order to identify, quantify, and evaluate the response of ecosystem services to current and projected conditions due to drivers such as climate change, water availability, and increased human development.

Eric graduated December 2010 with a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. After graduation, he joined the EPA, Las Vegas office, Landscape Ecology Branch, as a contractor to give technical support on research project called "Future Midwest Landscape." This project consists of studying the impact that biofuels, especially corn, will have on water quality. Water bodies, especially the Midwest lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, are greatly impacted by nutrients that run-off from the Midwest agricultural lands. The current U.S. policies and prices of petroleum products show that the biofuels industry will have a rapid growth and water quality will be greatly impaired due to intensive corn-based agriculture. Thus, researchers are using mathematical models to improve methods of measuring, predicting, and mitigating the negative impact of nutrients and sediments from Midwest watersheds to water quality.

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