Geologist Kineke Wins N.S.F. Prize

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Asst. Prof. Gail Kineke (Geology), who has traveled from the Hudson to the Amazon studying the flow of mud from rivers to the sea, has been presented a prestigious Career Award from the National Science Foundation.

The NSF Career Award will pay Kineke more than $457,000 over five years to support her research into sediment transport in three Southeastern US estuaries.

Kineke's research into coastal sediments is useful in tracking the paths that pesticides and other water pollutants take to the ocean, as well as in the planning of dredging operations in harbors, she said.

Kineke plans to make two, two-week expeditions a year with Boston College students to the coastal sites in South Carolina and Georgia.

"I call it 'Project Interface,'" she said, "as in the interface between the river and the ocean, between research and learning, and between undergraduates, graduates and faculty.

"There has been an increasing awareness of the role estuaries play in coastal systems," Kineke continued. "Salt marshes serve as fertile nursery grounds for fish and offer flood protection by serving as natural storm barriers."

Kineke, who holds a doctorate from the University of Washington and taught at the University of South Carolina before joining the Boston College faculty in 1997, has traveled to San Francisco Bay, the Hudson River, the Sepik River in Papua, New Guinea, and the Amazon River to study how coastal environments are shaped by the deposit of sediments by rivers, currents and tides.
Asst. Prof. Gail Kineke (Geology).

She garnered a pair of prestigious honors in 1996, receiving a $299,000 Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research, then traveling to the White House to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers that extended her ONR study by two years and $200,000.

Kineke also holds an appointment as an adjunct scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, where she said she was first drawn to the study of waves and currents as a youngster summering in East Orleans.

"I was always interested in how the beach changed shape from winter to summer," she said. "My research is one piece of a bigger puzzle that we're trying to figure out - the interaction between rivers, the coast and the ocean."

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