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UM Alumna Receives Abess Center’s Environmental Stewardship Award

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    Rachel Silverstein

    Rachel Silverstein

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 25, 2016)—UM alumna Rachel Silverstein, the executive director of Miami Waterkeeper, received the 2016 Reitmeister-Abess Center Environmental Stewardship Award last Friday for her singularly significant contributions to conserving water resources.

    Bestowed by the University of Miami’s Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, the award is named for the late Louis Aaron Reitmeister, the 20th century writer, humanist, and environmentalist whose foundation continues to preserve endangered species and help rid the world’s oceans and waterways of pollution.

    Silverstein, who earned her Ph.D. in marine biology and fisheries from the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science in 2012, joined Miami Waterkeeper in June 2014, after serving as a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow and on the staff of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard in Washington, D.C.

    As the head of the nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting Biscayne Bay, its watershed, and its wildlife, Silverstein is part investigator, scientist, educator, and legal advocate, functioning as a public spokesperson for the bay, protecting the public’s right to clean water, monitoring water quality, and bringing water polluters to justice.

    As a UM doctoral candidate, she focused her research on the effect of climate change on reef corals, and used genetic methods to answer ecological questions. She also conducted outreach ranging from writing articles about science, including a Letter to the Editor published in the journal Science to mentoring undergraduate, middle, and high school girls on their science fair projects.

    Silverstein graduated cum laude from Columbia University in 2006 with a B.S. degree in ecology, evolution and environmental biology. In 2004, she was a summer intern at the San Diego Coastkeeper (then Baykeeper).

    Her passion for protecting the environment began early, while growing up along the Southern California coast and playing in the local tide pools. She earned her SCUBA certification at age 14 and has been an avid diver ever since.

    Past recipients of the Reitmeister-Abess award include Harvey Ruvin, Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts; Carl Hiaasen, local environmentalist, author, and Miami Herald columnist; Terrence “Rock” Salt, former principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Army, Civil Works; and Jennifer Jurado, director of the Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division.


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