Van Riper receives Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence for graduate research

COLLEGE STATION — Carena Van Riper of Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has received a 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in graduate research.

She was presented the award Jan. 8 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Conference held on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.

The Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence were established in 1980 to recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of faculty and staff across Texas A&M AgriLife and to provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those honored.

Van Riper, who earned her bachelor’s from the University of Arizona and master’s from the University of Vermont, is currently a third-year graduate student in the recreation, park and tourism sciences department of the college.

According to her award nomination, Van  Riper has produced more than 40 publications, including one edited book, 13 refereed manuscripts, three peer-reviewed book chapters, eight juried conference proceedings, and 16 non peer-reviewed publications, such as technical reports and field guides. She also has delivered 37 scholarly presentations at regional, national, and international symposia.

Van Riper is an accomplished scholar who also has great skills as a teacher and member of the academic community, stated Dr. Gerard Kyle, her program advisor at Texas A&M.

“Over the past three years, Carena has fully embraced the demands of academia and has displayed an intrinsic curiosity for the world around her” Kyle said.”Her record of scholarship to date is exceptional for such a young scholar.”

Van Riper was cited in her award nomination for her “rigorous interdisciplinary research program”  which focuses broadly on the human dimensions of natural resources.

“She uses theory and methods from the social sciences to address real-world challenges of managing and conserving natural resources,” the award nomination explained. “She has collaborated closely with interdisciplinary research teams from James Cook University (Australia), the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service to confront various threats facing coastal ecosystems and human well-being, such as climate-change impacts, invasive species and environmental degradation.”

Van Riper has drawn on research and interdisciplinary team experiences to bolster her roles as an instructor of a wildland recreation management course, teaching assistant, and mentor to several undergraduate students completing their senior internships under her supervision, the nomination stated.

Kyle added Van Riper’s doctoral work examines social values and environmental behavior among outdoor recreationists in marine and coastal protected areas, including Channel Islands National Park and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

“She is using geospatial modeling to identify high priority settings according to ecological processes and functioning, economic valuation and public perceptions of recreation conditions,” he wrote. “This work will have profound implications for how park and natural resource management agencies can effectively provide opportunities for restorative experiences in nature while prioritizing biodiversity conservation.”


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