Oustanding ENSP Student: Jason Winik

ENSP student Jason Winik recognizes the benefit of a well-rounded science foundation to address today's interdisciplinary challenges

May 22, 2017

ENSPire, the Environmental Science and Policy Student Association, has started an "Outstanding ENSP Student" showcase, which is meant to recognize the hard work and enthusiasm of our ENSP students.  Students selected for this award were nominated by faculty and staff in the program who recognize academic drive, exceptional involvement, research potential or any other outstanding quality which makes them an outstanding student!  We couldn't be more proud to feature them!


Talking Science and Informing Policy

Jason Winik came to Maryland as a pre-med biology student, but after taking Introduction to Environmental Policy (ENSP102) with Professor Goger, he was hooked. Winik liked how it “made the issues related to the environment and climate change real,” and “enjoyed learning about the policy framework in the US and the world that addresses these issues. I was able to see both the effective policies the US has implemented, as well as where further work needs to be done.  The intersection of science and policy is complex, and I knew I could learn more about that as an ENSP major.”On why he chose his concentration in Environment and Agriculture, Winik said he sees “food security and water quality becoming even greater issues in the coming years.” By studying subjects like plant science, chemistry, geography, and biology, Winik says he feels like he’s getting a well-rounded science foundation to address these interdisciplinary challenges.  In addition to the hard science classes for his concentration, Winik enjoyed the policy classes included in the core ENSP curriculum. “The ENSP program is a good combination of taking science and informing policy. I like the interdisciplinary nature of it.” Winik has been further exploring the intersection between science and policy through his work in Dr. Melissa Kenney’s Environmental Decision Support Science Lab. He joined the lab in January 2016, and has now spent three semesters and one summer there. The lab has worked on a number of different projects in that time. For example, Winik shares, “last spring and summer we worked on a project where we assessed the vulnerability of different regions of the US to climate change and extreme weather events. In my first semester, we looked at Northeast US cities’ indicator literature and then studied indicators in the Pacific and Caribbean islands last summer. This semester, one of our tasks is to look at how different organizations and businesses incorporate NOAA’s Climate Prediction Outlooks such into their decision-making. In later semesters, focus groups and surveys will help gather more information about how the climate outlooks are used. Winik said working in Dr. Kenney’s lab has given him an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of scientific decision-making. In his career, he aims to bridge the knowledge gap between scientists, policy makers, and the general public in one form or another. He is interested in studying public policy and or GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in hopes of achieving such goals. When asked about his favorite part about UMD, Winik immediately cited the resources. “Having so many classes and majors available helped me find what out what I was interested in and find my niche. The ENSP department always sends out emails about different internships or research opportunities, so they really support the students. Through the research portal, I discovered the research assistant position in Dr. Kenney’s group, where I have gained practical research skills that I would not have gained in any of my classes. [UMD] being a big research institution offers tons of positions for students to gain experience in their field. Going out and actually working in an area of interest let’s you see if that’s the type of work you really want (or don’t want) to do.” So what advice does Winik have for incoming ENSP students? “This is really cliché, but I would say definitely talk to your professors. When I was transitioning from Biology to ENSP I talked to professors on both sides, and hearing their take really helped me figure out my own path. And take advantage of all the resources that Maryland has to offer. Go to teacher’s office hours; pick their brains. I have not met one professor that's unwilling to talk to me… they love sharing their experiences and helping students.” Jason Winik is a junior Environmental Science and Policy student with a concentration in Environment and Agriculture who was nominated by Dr. Melissa Kenney as an outstanding ENSP student for his work in her lab.