Emily Piontek received the 2020 Distinguished Thesis Award as part of this year’s virtual Celebration of Excellence Awards. This past spring, she graduated with her Master’s in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and a Certificate in Public Policy. During the completion of her research, Piontek was advised by Sonja Wilhelm Stanis, associate professor in the School of Natural Resources. Both Piontek and Wilhelm Stanis were honored as part of Celebration of Excellence.
Piontek’s thesis, Residents’ perceptions of ecosystem services & environmental justice in urban greenspace: A mixed methods exploration in St. Louis, Missouri, provided a more in depth understanding of how members of the public in the St. Louis area weigh the benefits and costs of nature in their communities.
“Due to her undergraduate education in political theory and sociopolitical transitions, Emily brought a unique lens to the field of natural resources,” says Sonja Wilhelm Stanis, associate professor in the School of Natural Resources. “In addition to her own research study, she was involved in another research project examining climate change in state parks, worked as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate course, and served as a research clerk for Renew Missouri.”
“Ms. Piontek’s thesis is wonderfully written and is probably the most carefully written thesis I have read at MU,” says Charles Nilon, William J. Rucker Professor of Natural Resources. “She does a good job of telling the story of her research, why it is important, and why the results are meaningful.”