UR biology professor receives fellowship to explore ways to safely gather important scientific information in conflict zones

May 17, 2018

Peter Smallwood, associate professor of biology at the University of Richmond has received a Jefferson Science Fellowship with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Smallwood will report to the Operational Innovations Team in the Global Development Lab for one year, working on USAID missions in dangerous areas with poor security or non-permissive environments where government forces do not have effective control.

“Travel within conflict zones, such as South Sudan or Afghanistan is difficult, making it hard to observe and analyze the work being done,” said Smallwood. “I’ll look for ways for USAID personnel to get the data they need in order to adequately monitor and evaluate projects while minimizing their risks.”

Smallwood, who has taught biology at UR since 1997, is not a stranger to science diplomacy or these types of environments. He spent a year working for the Department of State in Iraq and 18 months running the Wildlife Conservation Society project in Afghanistan.

“This fellowship offers me the chance to put my prior experiences in science diplomacy to good use,” said Smallwood. “I look forward to applying what I learn on this fellowship to enhance my teaching and scholarship.”

Smallwood currently serves as UR’s environmental studies program coordinator and is the first person from the University to receive a Jefferson Science Fellowship.

He will relocate to Washington in August to begin his one-year commitment.

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The Jefferson Science Fellowship Program was established in 2003 as an initiative of the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State. It is designed to further build capacity for science, technology and engineering expertise within the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development.