VCU Rice Center

Photo of sunlit trees
News and events
June 28, 2013

Kat Potter in Rwanda
VCU Rice Center collaborator: Center for Conservation Biology

By Bryan Watts

In 2004, Kat Potter was a wunderkind undergraduate honors student at William & Mary working with the Center for Conservation Biology, VIMS and the chemistry department to investigate levels of brominated fire retardants in eggs of peregrine falcons. Kat was a brilliant and passionate student with a clear focus on the future of the environment.

Following her graduation with highest honors from William & Mary, Kat enrolled in the graduate program in atmospheres, oceans and climate at MIT. There she designed, constructed and used an instrument to measure nitrous oxide composition in the atmosphere, allowing for the measurement of greenhouse gas sources and budgets. She completed her Ph.D. in 2011.

For the past nine months, Kat has been the lead scientist working to establish the first atmospheric/climate observatory in Africa. The site of the observatory is atop Mount Karisimbi in Rwanda. If successful, the observatory will become part of the Advanced Atmospheric Gases Experiment, a worldwide network of stations funded by NASA and NOAA.

In addition to establishing the observatory, Kat is training future Rwandan scientists, technicians, and academics to collaborate in the world’s efforts to monitor climate change.

Potter has an ongoing blog about her activities in Rwanda and was recently featured in an alumni article by MIT.

peregrine falcon egg
Kat Potter’s undergraduate honors thesis at William & Mary focused on spatial patterns in fire retardant levels in peregrine falcon eggs. Photo by Bryan Watts.