ATLANTA—Sarah Ledford, an assistant professor of geosciences, has been named as one of three recipients of the 2022 Dean’s Early Career Award.

Portrait of Sarah Ledford

Sarah Ledford

The award recognizes early-career faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences who are emerging leaders in their field of research, scholarship, or creative activity.

Ledford is a water scientist who focuses on urban ecosystems, exploring questions related to water quantity and quality in highly-populated areas. Her research aims to better understand how human changes to the environment including sewer systems, roads and other infrastructure affect the cycling of water between the Earth and its atmosphere, and the transfer of chemicals, including pollutants, in the environment.

Her urban hydrology research involves a combination of field work, lab work, and computer modeling. This approach involves combing the fields of hydrology, hydrogeology, and biogeochemistry with a goal of sharing findings with the public to help inform efforts to preserve water resources.

In one of her current projects, Ledford and her collaborators are researching whether beaver dams can improve the water quality of urban streams and wetlands by functioning similarly to man-made stormwater retention ponds.

Ledford, who earned her Ph.D. in Earth Science from Syracuse University in 2016, joined Georgia State University in 2018 after working for two years in a post-doctoral appointment at Temple University.

Recipients of the Dean’s Early Career Award are selected based on outstanding achievements in research and teaching, as well as service contributions to Georgia State.

Ledford said she is grateful for the recognition of her work.

“I want to extend my deep thanks to my department and college for investing in my success so heavily,” she said. “This success is also due to the amazing students at Georgia State University, both undergraduates and master’s students.”

Katherine Hankins, chair of the Department of Geosciences, said Ledford’s successful grants and publications are thanks to her “open door” approach.

“Her door is always open,” Hankins said. “She has thoughtfully integrated students into her research program and works closely with students at all stages of her work. She is an invaluable member of the Department of Geosciences, and Georgia State University is so fortunate to have her.”

The award is funded by private contributions from members of the college’s Board of Visitors and other donors to support “rising stars” among the faculty. As part of their recognition, recipients are provided $3,000 in professional development funds.

The other 2022 recipients are Sierra Carter, an assistant professor of psychology, and Jordan Hamm, an assistant professor of neuroscience.



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