Professor’s fight to protect Hawaiʻi’s forests earns national recognition

by University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo biology professor has been elected a 2021 fellow of the nation’s largest organization of professional ecologists. Rebecca Ostertag, who has taught at UH Hilo since 2001, will earn the lifelong recognition from the Ecological Society of America (ESA). She has been integral in devising plans and conducting research to preserve the lowland wet forests of Hawaiʻi.

The ESA noted it elected Ostertag for her “outstanding intellectual leadership in the areas of tropical forest ecology and conservation and a deep commitment to mentoring and enhancing diversity in the next generation of ecologists.”

Ostertag is the associate chair of the UH Hilo tropical conservation biology and environmental science program. She also teaches courses related to the environment, including ecology and conservation, biostatistics and field methods. Her area of specialization is in tropical forest ecology, examining questions relating to biological invasions, nutrient cycling, forest dynamics, climate and restoration. Ostertag’s research carries a strong field component and involves integration of natural history, community structure and ecosystem dynamics.

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