AUTC 2007 Student of the Year: Will Rhodes

September 3, 2008 • Filed under: Student of the Year — billy.connor

The 2007 winner of the Alaska University Transportation Center Student of the Year Award is Will Rhodes, a University of Alaska Fairbanks Master’s candidate in Environmental Engineering. Rhodes earned his Bachelor of Science degree at UAF in Geology in 2005.

portrait of Will Rhodes

Will Rhodes

Rhodes’ research has centered on “Herbicide Attenuation in Alaskan Soils,” a joint project between the AUTC, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the USDA Subarctic Agricultural Research Unit, and the Salcha-Delta Soil and Water Conservation District. As part of this project, he participated in controlled field testing in Delta Junction and Valdez, Alaska to determine how effective a combination of mechanical brush cutting and herbicide application might be in controlling vegetation.

Rhodes examined soil samples collected over the course of a year from field sites treated with a combination of mechanical mowing and herbicide. He analyzed these samples in the lab to track how quickly the herbicide chemicals diminished under varying climactic conditions, and what simpler compounds they formed as they broke down. Rhodes spent the winter analyzing his data and writing his thesis.

Study results will aid the AKDOTPF and the Alaska Railroad Corporation in making decisions on herbicide use in Alaska and on best practices for application.

The most challenging part of this project, Rhodes says, was mastering the logistics and organization involved in working with two remote field sites and multiple research partners to develop a strong, reliable experimental methodology.

Rhodes was chosen for this award based on his research achievements and his high GPA.