Clingen Wins Chao Center for Asian Studies Prize for Undergraduate Research


Kira Clingen, senior from Duncan College and Asian Studies, Policy Studies, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology triple major, won the Chao Center for Asian Studies Prize for her research at Rice University’s  fifth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS) on April 13, 2016.

Clingen’s research, titled “Bilateral Cooperation Between the United States and Russia Through Ecosystem-Based Management of the Arctic”, was inspired by the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum in Moscow in September, 2015, at which Clingen was a delegate and member of the Arctic and environment working group. Clingen explains, “We wanted to choose a topic that would address our areas of focus: Ecology, Arctic Studies, and environmental policy. Instead of targeting oil and gas, which we viewed as an unchangeable reality within the Arctic region, we sought to harness the nationalism inspired by national parks and places of persevered natural integrity in both the United States and Russia and use this as motivation for bilateral cooperation.”

A research project onbilateral cooperation also requires bilateral cooperation, but, while working on an international team posed unique challenges for Clingen, it was outweighed by the unique benefits it afforded. “I found the most rewarding aspect of the project was the fruitful discussions we had on similarities between the United States and Russia. We found significant similarities in forest composition and risk of fire between both nations, and our proposal seeks to address territory within the U.S. and Russia as part of a global geo-ecosystem, which would essentially unite the U.S. and Russia in their ability to fight fires within the boreal forest.”

Clingen will be applying her research this summer as a Watson Fellow working in the realm of climate change and living in Russia in the very ecosystem she studied.

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