Economics and Environmental Studies major Thomas Gumbley ’16 has been awarded a $50,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship For Undergraduate Environmental Study. In addition to supporting his final two years at Stonehill, the fellowship also includes an internship with an EPA-funded research project this summer.
The GRO Fellowship is designed to enhance and support quality environmental education for undergraduate students enrolled in an environmentally related field. The overall objective of the GRO Fellowship Program is to encourage undergraduates in these areas to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level and pursue careers in fields that address environmental problems and issues. Gumbley, who is a Moreau Honors Scholar, is the first Stonehill student to receive the GRO Fellowship and it is the largest amount of federal merit awarded to a Stonehill student as well.
“Tom’s receipt of the EPA GRO Fellowship is a tremendous accomplishment and a wonderful acknowledgment of what he's done, the potential for what he is capable of, and likely to achieve,” said Stonehill Dean of Academic Achievement Craig Almeida, who along with Environmental Studies Program Director Susan Mooney, worked closely with Gumbley throughout the rigorous application process.
It was Gumbley’ s trip to the Everglades with Mooney’s Learning Community course “Swamp Walks and Roadside Shrines” last winter that sparked Gumbley’s interest in environmental justice inequalities.
During a visit to the low-income agricultural community of Immokalee, Gumbley learned of the farm workers exposure to harmful pesticides. “I thought about how these workers had no other choice but to continue working in the fields exposing themselves to the long term health risks of pesticides in order to support their families. The beauty of the Everglades, I observed, conflicted with the struggles of the farm workers and the pollutants in their environment,” noted Gumbley, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in economics and will focus his research on environmental economics.
“Last summer, I was able to participate in Stonehill’s Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program in which I conducted economic research and this summer, the EPA GRO Fellowship will give me the opportunity to experience environmental research. Receiving this fellowship will allow me to participate in the environmental field and lab work that results in information used to create economic policy and regulation.”
For Mooney, encouraging her students to apply for such competitive awards like the EPA Fellowship and getting an end result like this, is one of the most rewarding parts of her job.
“I am so happy for Tom. His intelligence, his experiences in environmental studies and his career plans in environmental economics, made him a strong candidate for this fellowship” said Mooney. “In addition to the honor and the funding, the research internship provides an absolutely amazing opportunity for him.”