ESA Announces 2009 Graduate Student Policy Award Winners
The Ecological Society of America (ESA), the professional organization of 10,000 ecological scientists, is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2009 Graduate Student Policy Award. The Award affords ESA graduate students the opportunity to participate in two days of science policy activities, including meetings with congressional offices. This year’s winners are: Ari Novy (Rutgers University), Jennifer Moslemi (Cornell University), Colin Quinn (Colorado State University), and Tanya Skurski (Montana State University).
All four students have demonstrated commitment to interfacing science and public policy and the ESA Award will allow them to build on their experiences. Novy, Moslemi, Quinn, and Skurski will travel to Washington, DC in April to participate in a congressional visits event sponsored by the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC), a coalition co-chaired by ESA. The four will meet with congressional staff and Members, be briefed by policy leaders on federal funding issues, and meet other scientists from across the country. The BESC event, co-sponsored with the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions, will focus on the need for strong federal support of biological and agricultural research and education.
Ari Novy, who is working on his Ph.D. in plant biology at Rutgers University, notes that “federally funded science is necessary, not only to safeguard our citizens and natural resources, but also to maintain the innovation engine of our economy.” Novy has participated in an endangered species review for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has made ecological restoration recommendations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He received Honorable Mention for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program and has worked as a plant biology consultant and restoration gardener.
Jennifer Moslemi, a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, points out that “In this ‘Age of Biology’ now fraught with economic uncertainty, it is imperative that public and private support of the biological sciences does not wane.” Moslemi’s research focuses on understanding threats to freshwater ecosystems, which face unprecedented demands. She previously worked as a fisheries biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as part of a team to support the recovery of salmon populations. Moslemi has received several National Science Foundation awards, including a Graduate Student Research Fellowship.
Colin Quinn’s research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, explores the role plants can play in the cleanup of sites polluted with heavy metals, such as abandoned mines in Colorado. Quinn is a Ph.D. student at Colorado State University and has participated in a local community elections committee and in environmental campaigns. Quinn says that “It is imperative that graduate students, as the future leaders of the ecological field, take an active role in science policy.”
Tanya Skurski’s dissertation looks at the ecology, economics, and public policy implications of non-native plants in Greater Yellowstone. A Ph.D. candidate at Montana State University, Skurski previously worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service where she witnessed first-hand how research is translated into policy. She states that she plans to make the most of the ESA Graduate Student Policy Award by “fully engaging, networking and participating during the event, as well as ‘re-distributing the wealth’ to my peers, mentors and mentees through future discussions and seminars.”
The ESA Graduate Student Policy Award is one of several ways the Society works to offer its graduate student members opportunities to get involved in public policy at the start of their careers. Graduate students also may run—through ESA’s Student Section—to serve on several ESA standing committees, including the Public Affairs Committee, which works closely with ESA’s Washington, DC-based Public Affairs Office and focuses on activities to effectively convey ecological science to policymakers and the media.
The Ecological Society of America is the world's largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four print journals and one online-only, open-access journal Ecosphere and convenes an annual scientific conference. Visit the ESA website at www.esa.org or find experts in ecological science at www.esa.org/pao/rrt.
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