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Jelagat Cheruiyot, Ph.D., is a Professor of the Practice in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Science and Engineering. She joined EEB in 2017. Born and raised in Kenya, Dr. Cheruiyot holds a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Auburn University where she studied elemental defense and the trophic transfer of heavy metals from soil to higher trophic organisms. Prior to joining Tulane, Dr. Cheruiyot taught science at a university preparatory school in Columbus, Georgia.

During her tenure as the Kylene and Brad Beers II Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, Dr. Cheruiyot plans to pursue three major objectives that are both community engagement centered, and undergraduate teaching and research centered. First objective is to build sustainable neighborhood participation around the existing and future community gardens by creating opportunities that will encourage members of the community to participate in the maintenance and access to the community gardens in New Orleans as well as learn how to grow produce and maintain healthy ecosystems in their own spaces. Five of the gardens were established through community partnership with dr. Cheruiyot’s service learning students and the project-centered Urban Agroecology course supported by the Duren Professorship. The second objective is to evaluate the bioavailability of heavy metals in the community gardens; and if the heavy metals are bioavailable in the gardens, are they biotransfered or bioaccumulated from the soil to the plant biomass that is consumed by humans and other living organisms. Third is to employ phytoremediation in empty concrete lots that were foundation slabs for houses that have been since demolished by planting native trees on the concrete cracks. As the trees grow, the roots will crack the concrete and make it permeable for water, it could also mean less energy to remove the broken concrete pieces in later years, the tree vegetation prevent the lot from increasing the heat in the neighborhoods, the trees will provide a habitat for living organisms, Louisiana native trees such as the willows and native poplar can uptake heavy metals from the soil. Additionally, the trees act as carbon sinks and increase the curb appeal in the neighborhoods.

At Tulane, Dr. Cheruiyot has received several awards: School of Science and Engineering Teaching Award (2022), Principal Scholar (College Scholars Program) 2022-2024, Duren Professorship (2020), the Barbara E. Moely, Service-Learning Teaching Award (2019).

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