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Brendan Player Receives Wason Conservation Scholarship

Brendan Player Receives Wason Conservation Scholarship


Newport News, VA (October 27, 2017) – On September 28, 2017, Brendan Player, a Christopher Newport University doctoral student, received the first Wason Conservation Scholarship.  This honor recognizes a college student who demonstrates ability and achievement in environmental and conservation studies.

Named after the Virginia Living Museum founder, Harry Wason, this scholarship honors his commitment to preserving and showcasing the natural resources in our area.  Through Wason’s vision, the Virginia Living Museum has become a unique state-of-the-art facility – one that includes a museum, aquarium, nature trail, native animal preserve, native garden, and planetarium – that highlights all of the ecosystems in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In his freshman year at CNU, Brendan Player volunteered at the Virginia Living Museum as an exhibit interpreter at the Touch Tank and in the Virginia Underground.  Player stated that his, “favorite volunteer position was outside using the environmental cart.  I would ask kids to help me take measurements of suspended sediment in the water, do nutrient analyses, and look at macro-invertebrates under a microscope.”  “These different concepts are all associated with water quality and are now variables in either in my supplementary research or in my master’s thesis,” he added.

Brendan Player’s thesis title is, “Nutrient Uptake in Degraded and Restored Sections of Urban Streams in Newport News, Virginia.”  He has been a student at CNU since 2013; he graduated with a BS in Biology in May 2017.  Player is currently a five year MS ENVS student who was accepted into the program to work with Dr. Gary Whiting during his junior year

Brendan Player’s doctoral thesis research focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of stream restoration projects in the area by comparing several degraded streams to restored ones. Many stream restoration projects are conducted each year – usually required by law as a way to offset the environmental impact of urban development. However, after these projects are completed, very little follow-up research is conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the restoration. Player stated, “The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the nutrient uptake of degraded and restored stream segments across a chronosequence, within six urban streams in Newport News, Virginia.”

There are many state and local laws that govern stream stabilization or restoration projects, mainly because there is a vested interest in preserving our natural resources. If restoration projects are not effective at offsetting the impact of development and urbanization, the parties involved would probably want to know and hopefully figure out a way to improve it.  Therefore, Player’s doctoral work delves into the effectiveness of restoration techniques in the hopes of preserving, improving, and offsetting the environmental impact of urban development.

Brendan Player’s scholarship will be put toward expenses related to presenting his research at a conference in West Virginia.   He plans to graduate from CNU in May 2018 with a Masters in Environmental Science.  Player says that, “the VLM gave me an opportunity to show the public a small glimpse of what my master’s thesis research ended up becoming.”

For more information, go to the VLM website or call 757-595-1900.  The Museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, I-64, exit 258A.


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