Villanova, Pa. – Lisa J. Rodrigues, PhD, graduate program director of the Master of Science in Environmental Science and associate professor of Geography and the Environment in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received a 3-year, $540,092 grant from the National Science Foundation to support her research in coral conservation and management. With additional NSF funding allotted to Rodrigues’ collaborators at the University of Washington, the total grant for their research is $1.5 million.
An expert in coral reefs, Dr. Rodrigues focuses much of her research on these critical marine environments that serve as habitat for species, provide storm protection for coastlines and support economic livelihoods in tropical regions. In recent years, climate change, overfishing and pollution have threatened the ecosystem’s survival. This NSF funded research will work to identify characteristics and physiological strategies that lead to successful coral reproduction and long-term recovery.
Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is committed to fostering teacher-scholars, and Dr. Rodrigues welcomes graduate and undergraduate students as partners in her lab, allowing them to participate in cutting-edge research.
“Student involvement is integral to any research program as they gain hands-on, real-world experience in problem solving and working as a team, while at the same time, improving their scientific and writing skills,” said Dr. Rodrigues, “There is no better classroom than a coral reef!”
Dr. Rodrigues’ findings will not only benefit the coral reef ecosystems but also the community. Her research will contribute to important outreach programs, including: a workshop with elementary teachers in Hawaii; a marine biology lesson plan for teachers in Seattle working with underrepresented minorities, women and at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth; and hands-on classroom activities and field trips for underserved high school students in Philadelphia.
Dr. Rodrigues’ specific areas of expertise are coral reef ecosystems, marine invertebrates and ocean environments. She worked as a researcher for the Bermuda Biodiversity Project in 2000-2001, where she was involved in the data collection, analyses and production of Bermuda’s Country Study, a report produced in compliance with the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity. In addition to hands-on research, her work has been published in numerous academic journals including Nature, Limnology and Oceanography and Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.