Esther Parish received the Science Communicator Award for Community Engagement at the 2017 UT-Battelle Awards Night, held on October 28. As this year’s winner, Parish was recognized by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and UT-Battelle “for leading communication about renewable energy with creativity and enthusiasm.”
Since joining ORNL in 2009, Parish has devoted considerable time to communicating the real-world impacts of applied science and technology. She has engaged schools and communities to promote the value and opportunities for education and future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields.
Parish initiated ORNL and East Tennessee participation in the annual National Bioenergy Day. The community outreach event showcases bioenergy facilities and its benefits. Bioenergy is an alternative source of renewable energy derived from organic material, or biomass, with wide-ranging uses including heat and electricity production and transportation fuels. Locally, the 2016 event she organized engaged 10 area communities with workshops and presentations for schools and the general public. In addition to ORNL, regional participants included the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture and Center for Renewable Carbon, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the Creative Discovery Museum of Chattanooga, the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station, and Genera Energy of Vonore, Tennessee.
Parish is a research scientist in the Landscape Ecology and Regional Analysis Group in the Environmental Sciences Division. As a member of ORNL’s Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Climate Change Science Institute, and the Urban Dynamics Institute (UDI), she conducts interdisciplinary research focused on applications of geographic information science to issues in urban and environmental sustainability, including bioenergy and climate variability.
Parish was instrumental to the development of the Urban Climate Adaptation Tool, known as Urban-CAT. In her role with UDI, Parish contributes to the institute’s Energy-Water Nexus theme with core research on assessing the environmental and socioeconomic aspects of sustainable energy along with future climate impacts to human populations and water resources.
For more information on Parish and her work, please visit https://www.ornl.gov/staff-profile/esther-s-parish.—By Ashley Huff