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HomeNewsArchivesYale Researcher Will Speak Tuesday on Conflicts Between Development, Environment

Yale Researcher Will Speak Tuesday on Conflicts Between Development, Environment

March 9, 2007 — A national expert on heavy metals in aquatic systems will speak at the University of the Virgin Islands Tuesday about whether people can develop land without wrecking the environment.
Gaboury Benoit, Ph.D., a visiting researcher from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, will speak Tuesday from 12 to 1 p.m. in the MacLean Marine Science Center on UVI's St. Thomas campus. Benoit is a nationally recognized expert on the biogeochemistry of heavy metals in aquatic systems.
"Recent research has also included urban environmental issues and watershed-based studies of non-point source pollutants," according to a UVI news release. "In that connection, he co-authored the book New Strategies for America's Watersheds: Integrating Ecological, Economic, and Social Factors, published by National Academy Press in 1998. Another important recent publication is the book Land and Natural Development (L.A.N.D.) Code: Guidelines for Sustainable Land Development, co-authored with Diana Balmori of Yale’s Architecture School, and just released by Wiley."
The talk, "GREEN SPRAWL: Can Land Be Developed Sustainably?," will address the issue of land development as one of the leading causes of non-point source water pollution, soil erosion and habitat fragmentation and destruction. Benoit will describe the nature of uncontrolled land development and the environmental damage it causes, then present a system he has devised to minimize that harm while allowing carefully planned growth.
"The topic is of particular relevance for the USVI, where development and environmental sustainability are often viewed in conflict," the news release said. "This presentation is part of the V.I. Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research 2006-07 Seminar Series. The aim of this series is to exemplify how research of the environment can be of importance to the Virgin Islands and its people."
The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research is a program of the National Science Foundation designed to increase research capacity in science and engineering within a state or territory of the United States that has traditionally been underfunded in these areas, the news release said. "Individuals with training in the areas of science, math and technology are better able to positively impact a region’s management and development," the release said.
The territory received its first EPSCoR grant in 2003 and is presently in its third year of funding. VI-EPSCoR is hosted by UVI on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, and receives its guidance from a governing committee that includes representatives of both the public and the private sector, the release said.
Benoit received his B.S. in 1978 from Yale’s Department of Geology and Geophysics, where he studied geochemistry. After working for three years in an independent environmental consulting firm, he earned an M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from MIT in 1985 and a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from the M.I.T.-Woods Hole joint program in 1988. His work there under Professor Harold Hemond was on the biogeochemical cycling of metals and radionuclides in stratified lakes. Field-based limnological research remains a key scientific interest to this day.
After a stay at Michigan State University, he did a post-doctorate study with Peter Santschi at the marine campus of Texas A&M University in Galveston. He moved to Yale’s Environment School in 1991, where he currently serves as associate dean for research and a professor of environmental chemistry and of chemical engineering. He founded Yale’s Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems in 1992, and has acted as its faculty director since that time. He is also faculty co-director of Yale’s Hixon Center for Urban Ecology.
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