WHRC scientist wins Fulbright scholarship

Assistant Scientist Marcia N. Macedo has been awarded a J. William Fulbright Scholarship to advance her work in the Brazilian Amazon. The Fulbright Program is the US government’s flagship international exchange program; its Scholar Program provides opportunities to deepen the recipient’s expertise, work with additional resources and serve as a cultural ambassador. Dr. Macedo is the third WHRC scientist to receive the prestigious Fulbright, whose previous recipients were Drs. Scott Goetz and Michael Coe.

Using a combination of remote sensing, field observations and statistical modeling, Dr. Macedo studies land-use change in the tropics. Under the Fulbright scholarship, she will spend six months in Brazil to launch a new research initiative with partners at the University of Brasília (UnB) and the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), WHRC’s long-time Brazilian collaborator.  During her stay, she will quantify greenhouse gas emissions from small reservoirs, originally constructed to provide drinking water for cattle. Dr. Macedo will divide her time between Brasília and Tanguro Ranch, a research station in the state of Mato Grosso.

Dr. Macedo’s previous work has shown that there some 10,000 small reservoirs in the Amazon’s upper Xingu watershed, but little is known about their cumulative greenhouse gas emissions. Her Fulbright project will provide the first estimates of methane and carbon dioxide fluxes from small reservoirs in the Amazon and will determine whether they are globally important sources of emissions. Her study will be used as the basis for collaborative research to quantify net annual fluxes from reservoirs and develop strategies for their regulation and management in emerging agricultural frontiers.

“This scholarship provides an exciting opportunity to sink my teeth into a research question we’ve been thinking about for years,” says Dr. Macedo. “My six-month stay will allow me to collect new field data, work with world-class biogeochemists at UnB, and strengthen our existing collaborations with IPAM at the interface of science and policy. And,” she adds, “I’d also like to learn to play the Brazilian pandeiro!”

An ecosystem ecologist, Dr. Macedo is interested in understanding the causes of human-induced land change and its consequences for aquatic ecosystems. She earned her M.Sc. in Sustainable Development & Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland and her Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, & Environmental Biology from Columbia University.  She was a postdoctoral fellow at WHRC before becoming an assistant scientist in 2013.


WHRC is an independent research institute where scientists investigate the causes and effects of climate change to identify and implement opportunities for conservation, restoration and economic development around the world.