Three Rausser College faculty named 2023 Hellman Fellows

October 18, 2023
Banner of Benjamin Blonder, Youjin Chung, and Manuela Girotto

Benjamin Blonder, Youjin Chung, and Manuela Girotto

Congratulations to Rausser College assistant professors Benjamin Blonder, Youjin Chung, and Manuela Girotto on being selected as 2023 Society of Hellman Fellows!

Established by the late F. Warren and Chris Hellman in 1995 and supported by the Hellman Family since its establishment, the award funds early-career faculty members who show capacity for great distinction in their research. Each fellow may receive awards of up to $60,000 to support any research-related needs including assistantships, equipment, or travel.​​

A plant ecologist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), Blonder is interested in predicting ecological change in order to meet societal needs in the upcoming decades. His research utilizes field research, remote sensing, and modeling to understand how ecophysiological, historical, and anthropogenic processes affect plant biodiversity. The fellowship will support his research on the genotypes of quaking aspen and their ability to cope with the century’s climate extremes.

Chung, a rural sociologist and human geographer in ESPM and the Energy and Resources Group, focuses on the relationship between gender, intersectionality, development, and socio-ecological change in sub-Saharan Africa—particularly Tanzania. The fellowship will support Chung’s collaboration with Indigenous activists and researchers in Tanzania as they create a digital repository of living memories of pastoralism. This archive will serve as a methodology for understanding how traditional pastoral practices and environmental knowledge articulate with global development interventions aimed at promoting “climate-smart” livestock intensification.

Girotto is a civil and environmental engineer in ESPM who combines satellite data and remote sensing observations with computer modeling to improve our understanding of variability and change in hydrologic cycles. In particular, her research focuses on how human-driven and environmental changes in snowfall, soil moisture, and groundwater hydrology might affect future sea level rise. The fellowship will support Girotto’s research on understanding and quantifying the feedback between seasonal snow in the Sierra Nevada, the groundwater levels in the Central Valley water table, and associated hydro-climatic hazards such as droughts.

Visit the Society of Hellman Fellows website to learn more about the programs and each recipient.