Audrey Mayer Receives Powe Award

By John Gagnon | Published

Audrey Mayer, whose research focuses on multidisciplinary sustainability science, has been named a winner of a 2011 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. Mayer is an assistant professor with a dual appointment in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University.

The Powe Award, given annually by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) in Tennessee, recognizes junior faculty for their outstanding work in engineering and applied science; life sciences; mathematics and computer science; physical sciences; or policy, management or education.  Winners receive $5,000 grant from ORAU, which is matched by their institutions, for a total of $10,000.

“This award is a great honor and a fantastic opportunity,” said Mayer. 

Vice President for Research, Dave Reed, congratulated Mayer. “The award is very competitive and prestigious,” he said. “The selection process is rigorous and involves outstanding scientists from around the nation. We are very pleased that Audrey was recognized. We appreciate her efforts, and look forward to her continued success.”  Reed, who is an ORAU councilor, said that, this year, 30 people were chosen from among 118 nominations.  

Currently, Mayer is studying how policies that are aimed at encouraging nonindustrial private forest owners to manage their forests for bioenergy production will change landscapes over time, in particular the potential impacts to biodiversity. The Powe Award supports her research in landscape ecology.

Mayer will collaborate with Virginia Dale of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who is one of the leading researchers on the ecological impacts of bioenergy production. The two researchers will focus on forests in Upper Michigan and Appalachia.

“This will be a great opportunity to look at northern versus southern private forest owners and see how their unique quirks factor in to the impact,” Mayer said. “It will also be interesting to see how the efforts to convert some of our coal-fired power plants to biomass-fueled plants might impact the UP's forests."

Mayer received her PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology, with a minor in environmental policy, from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She has been at Tech since 2009, when she was hired as part of the the Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative in sustainability.

Much of her research focuses on global sustainability. She is interested in forest products in general and fuel, fiber and food in particular. 

“I think we’re in a very historic time,” she said. “We have the opportunity to make choices and build different societies that will dictate how life is going to be in the next 50 to 100 years. We can really shape the course of what society becomes.”

The ORAU supports collaboration between major research universities and national laboratories, government agencies and private industry to leverage their scientific strengths.

This is the second consecutive year that a Michigan Tech faculty member has received a Powe Award. Shiliang Wu, assistant professor of geological and mining engineering and sciences, won one in 2010.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

Last Modified 2:55 p.m. March, 29 2019