ESA Selects EEE Scholars
October 28, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Alison Mize, gro.asenull@nosila
The Ecological Society of America is pleased to announce the recipients of the first cohort of the ESA Excellence in Ecology (EEE) Scholars for early – mid career ESA members who have achieved a Ph.D. within the last 20 years. The new initiative addresses one of the recommendations from the ESA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Task Force to support and elevate diverse scientists in the ecological community.
ESA selected four ecologists as EEE Scholars: Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks – Asst. Professor, Department of Environmental and Health Sciences, Spelman College; Dr. Theresa Wei Ying Ong – Asst. Professor, Department of Environmental Studies and Ecology, Evolution, Environment and Society, Dartmouth College; Dr. Adriana Lucia Romero-Olivares – Asst. Professor, Department of Biology, New Mexico State University; and Dr. Erika S. Zavaleta – Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California – Santa Cruz.
“This effort seeks to remove critical barriers to full participation in the retention and promotion of scholars who have traditionally been excluded or underrepresented in our community to make ESA more inclusive, especially for Black, indigenous, and people of color,” said ESA President Dennis Ojima.
Scholars receive an award of $5000 over two years to support travel for a speaking opportunity at an ESA annual meeting or event, to support research or family/childcare, to host a research topic web event, and for publication fees in one of ESA’s open access journals. ESA anticipates the experience will build peer support among the scholars and its alumni in addition to access to mentors.
“Ecology shows us that diversity within an ecosystem makes it stronger. Today, we take one small step to showcase the excellence of diverse ecologists in our profession. We recognize that more work is needed. ESA is committed to increasing opportunities for BIPOC ecologists. Young ecologists or those considering a career in ecology will be influenced if they see themselves represented by those in leadership positions,” said ESA Diversity Committee Chair Carmen Cid.
Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks – Asst. Professor, Department of Environmental and Health Sciences, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA. Dr. Jelks obtained her Ph.D. in 2016 from Georgia State University. Dr. Jelks investigates urban watershed management; environmental health disparities; cumulative risk assessment; the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations; and the connection between urban watersheds, pollution, the built environment and health. She also develops, implements and evaluates community-based initiatives that set conditions to enable low-income and communities of color to empower themselves to restore urban watersheds and improve environmental quality, reduce exposure to environmental health hazards and enhance human health and quality of life.
Dr. Theresa Wei Ying Ong – Asst. Professor, Department of Environmental Studies and Ecology, Evolution, Environment and Society, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2017 from the University of Michigan and is an agroecologist who combines theory with empirical work in agricultural systems to understand how complex interactions between the environment, organisms and people influence food production and ecosystem stability. Dr. Ong uses techniques from complex systems and theoretical ecology to understand how sustainable agricultural systems and the ecological communities within them are maintained under social and environmental stress.
Dr. Adriana Lucia Romero-Olivares – Asst. Professor, Department of Biology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Dr . Romero-Olivares obtained her Ph.D. in 2017 from the University of California, Irvine. She is a soil microbiologist who works at the intersection of ecosystem ecology and evolution with an emphasis on fungi, and is interested in understanding how fungi respond and adapt to environmental stress, to better understand and plan for ecosystem-scale effects of global climate change.
Dr. Erika S. Zavaleta – Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2001 from Stanford University. Zavaleta’s research focuses on global change ecology, conservation justice and addressing racial disparities in science. Her research tackles the effects of biodiversity and climate changes on ecological and sociocultural systems, and the effectiveness of conservation under rapid global changes and of programs that address racial disparities in science and conservation.
The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at https://www.esa.org.