Kathryn Yurkonis

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Kathryn Yurkonis
Iowa State University

I believe that the knowledge gained from ecological studies is most meaningfully distributed through education on all levels to increase awareness and respect for the relationships between organisms and their environments. In the technological world that we live in, it is exciting to teach ecology when we can incorporate real time photographs of vegetation distributions and communicate with people across the globe within the classroom. Gone are the days of transparencies, now we can teach about global climate change and vegetation distributions by directly connecting students to the data sources. This gives students of all ages a more real and tangible connection to the material at hand, and with that engagement, a stronger respect for the world they live in.

In addition, I believe in teaching students of all ages and in many settings. Within the last three years, I co-wrote the ecology exam for the State of Iowa High School Science Olympiad contest, helped High School teachers implement statistical analysis programs in their classrooms and will be participating with a wildflower walk for troubled children in the next week. All these activities center on on engaging non-traditional students to think about ecological issues through hands on experience either directly, or with the help of technology.

My extensive education in a variety of areas has helped me with meeting these goals. As an undergraduate, I majored in Biology and Environmental Sciences at Carroll College, a small liberal arts school, and spent my summers participating in grassland research projects at the University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek Natural History Area. In June of 2005, I received my Master’s of Science degree in Biological Sciences from Eastern Illinois University. My Master’s thesis was focused on the impacts of exotic species invasion and drought on old-field successional communities. I have published three peer-reviewed articles pertaining to my thesis in Ecology Letters, Journal of Ecology and Plant Ecology. In addition, I presented my research at four professional meetings (including the 88th and 89th ESA meetings) during the two years that I was at Eastern Illinois University. I am now a second year doctoral candidate in the Iowa State University interdepartmental Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program working with Dr’s Brian Wilsey and Kirk Moloney. In the fall, I will begin participating in Iowa State’s preparing future faculty program, designed to help graduate students become better teachers and faculty members.

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