ESA announces the recipients of the 2017 Student Awards

Awards recognize students for exceptional research and outstanding presentations at the 2017 Annual Meeting

June 19, 2018
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, zgentes@esa.org

The Ecological Society of America recognizes Michael T. Kohl, Benjamin J. Wilson, and Emily E. Ernst for awards for outstanding student research. The Murray F. Buell and E. Lucy Braun awards are given for exceptional presentations at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Society in Portland, Oregon in August 2017. The Forest Shreve Research Fund award supports graduate or undergraduate student ecological research in the hot deserts of North America. 

 

2017 Buell Award winner Michel T. Kohl. Photo courtesy of Kohl.

Murray F. Buell Award: Michel T. Kohl

Murray F. Buell had a long and distinguished record of service and accomplishment in the Ecological Society of America. Among other things, he ascribed great importance to the participation of students in meetings and to excellence in the presentation of papers. To honor his selfless dedication to the younger generation of ecologists, the Murray F. Buell Award for Excellence in Ecology is given to a student for the outstanding oral paper presented at the ESA Annual Meeting.

Award panel members honored Michel T. Kohl with the 2017 Murray F. Buell award. Kohl is now a postdoctoral fellow in the Jack H. Berryman Institute at Utah State University after receiving his PhD this past year. His oral paper investigated whether elk in Yellowstone National park selected their habitat based on the activity schedules and space use of their predators, cougars and wolves. He found that elk frequented open areas at night when wolves were not as active, but selected forested areas in the day when cougars were not as active. Together, this allowed elk to avoid both predators simultaneously while still providing access to high quality forage. Judges were impressed my Michel’s thorough background information, his compelling analyses, and great answers to post-presentation questions.

2017 Buell Honorable Mention Hayley R. Tumas. Photo courtesy of Tumas.

A Buell award honorable mention is awarded to Hayley R. Tumas, who received her PhD last month at the University of Georgia. Tumas used microsatellite markers to investigate genetic diversity and population connectivity in Juncus roemerianus, a dominant foundational plant species in Gulf coast salt marshes. Her results could inform coastal restoration and management to conserve natural levels of diversity in Juncus populations. Judges enjoyed her clear and engaging style, her careful pacing, and her thorough knowledge of the study ecosystem.

 

Lucy Braun Award: Benjamin J. Wilson

2017 Braun Award winner Benjamin J. Wilson in the wetland field. Photo courtesy of Wilson.

Lucy Braun, an eminent plant ecologist and one of the charter members of the Society, studied and mapped the deciduous forest regions of eastern North America and described them in her classic book, The Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America. To honor her, the E. Lucy Braun Award for Excellence in Ecology is given to a student for the outstanding poster presentation at the ESA Annual Meeting. Papers and posters are judged on the significance of ideas, creativity, quality of methodology, validity of conclusions drawn from results, and clarity of presentation.

The 2017 E. Lucy Braun award was won by Benjamin J. Wilson, a postdoctoral researcher at Florida International University, who recently defended his dissertation entitled, “Drivers and Mechanisms of Peat Collapse in Coastal Wetlands.” Wilson’s poster presented research findings centered around exploring if the negative impacts of saltwater intrusion in the Everglades could be offset by the increase in phosphorus load that accompanies such events. He found that gross and net ecosystem productivity both increased with saltwater influx, possibly due to the associated increases in phosphorus. However, salt negatively impacted root growth and led to an overall decrease in elevation. Judges were impressed by Benjamin’s clear explanations, great visualizations, and careful execution of his experiments.

 

2017 Forest Shreve Research Award winner Emily E. Ernst. Photo courtesy of Ernst.

Forest Shreve Research Award: Emily E. Ernst

Dr. Shreve was an internationally known American botanist devoted to the study of the distribution of vegetation as determined by soil and climate conditions, with a focus on desert vegetation. The Forest Shreve award supplies $1,000-2,000 to support ecological research by graduate or undergraduate student members of ESA in the hot deserts of North America (Sonora, Mohave, Chihuahua, and Vizcaino). 

ESA awards Emily E. Ernst with the Forest Shreve Research award. Ernst is a PhD candidate studying Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Iowa State University working under the mentorship of Dr. Kirk Moloney. She is studying two problematic exotic grasses of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, Schismus arabicus and Bromus rubens, and how the microhabitats beneath creosote bush may affect the distributions of these invaders. She is also investigating how their invasion may affect the pathways for potential desert fires to spread. She will use her award to better characterize microhabitat soil nutrient and water availability. 

 

2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
5–10 August 2018

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on New Orleans, Louisiana this August for the 103nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 4,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on August 5th through 10th, 2018.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at zgentes@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

 

 

 

 

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The Ecological Society of America (ESA), 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 http://www.esa.org.

ESA Selects 2018 Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award Recipients

RELEASE DATE: Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Contact: Alison Mize, alison@esa.org, (202) 833-8773 ext. 205

 

 

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA). This award provides graduate students with the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for policy experience and training. Ten recipients were selected for this year’s award: Aaron W. Baumgardner (California State University, Bakersfield), Stephen R. Elser (Arizona State University), Ann Marie Gawel (Iowa State University), Emily E. Graves (University of California, Davis), Chelsea L. Merriman (Boise State University), Steffanie M. Munguía (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey), Vera W. Pfeiffer (University of Wisconsin – Madison), Johnny J. Quispe (Rutgers University), Urooj S. Raja (University of Colorado Boulder), and Jenna M. Sullivan (Oregon State University).

These students will travel to D.C. in April to learn about the legislative process and federal science funding, to hear from ecologists working in federal agencies, and to meet with their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. This Congressional Visits Day, organized and sponsored by ESA, offers GSPA recipients the chance to interact with policymakers and discuss the importance of federal funding for science, in particular the biological and ecological sciences.

“Now more than ever, we need scientists who can meaningfully share their science with policymakers,” said Rich Pouyat, president of ESA. “The Katherine S. McCarter policy award is an exciting opportunity for the next generation of ecologists to explore science policy in our Nation’s capital. It gives them the opportunity to develop the skills that will make them effective communicators of the ecological and environmental sciences and in so doing help lawmakers to make informed, science-based decisions.”  

ESA’s policy award was renamed this year in honor of Katherine McCarter, who served as executive director of the Society for 20 years until her retirement in January of 2018.

 

2018 ESA Graduate Student Policy Award Recipients 

 

Aaron W. Baumgardner

Aaron Baumgardner is an M.S. candidate in biology at California State University, Bakersfield. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, his current research focuses on the climate extremes of drought and their influences on vegetation health in Southern California’s chaparral shrublands. Future plans include pursuing a Ph.D. and expanding his research beyond shrublands to other plant community types. Baumgardner’s interest is in bridging ecological research with the policymaking process to help craft and shape environmental policy. He received a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Akron.

 

Stephen R. Elser

Stephen Elser is interested in the ecosystem services provided by green infrastructure and how local practitioners use it to strengthen cities’ resilience to extreme weather events. Elser is pursuing a Ph.D. in the environmental life sciences at Arizona State University and is a graduate fellow in the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network. For the past nine months, he has researched the ecosystem services of urban wetlands in Valdivia, Chile. Before beginning his Ph.D. studies, he worked for two years as a research technician in a stream ecology lab at Baylor University to establish the phosphorus threshold in Oklahoma’s scenic rivers to prevent undesirable algal blooms. Elser received a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and a minor in sustainability from the University of Notre Dame.

 

Ann Marie Gawel

Ann Marie Gawel is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program at Iowa State University. She studies the roles of non-native species in the novel ecosystems of the island of Guam, where native seed-dispersers (birds) are functionally absent due to predation by the invasive brown tree snake. Her focus is on non-native mammals and how they shape plant communities through seed dispersal, seed predation, and herbivory. How the public perceives the management of these species is also part of her research. Gawel is of Micronesian heritage and has spent most of her life living in the Micronesian islands of Pohnpei and Guam. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, and a master’s from the University of Guam studying the effects of non-native ungulates in limestone karst forests. While there, she founded the Green Army environmental service organization and served on the University President’s Green Initiative board. She also worked for four years as an endangered species biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Guam and Hawaii. Although an ecologist by training, Gawel is also interested in the human dimensions of conservation and environmental policy, especially in the context of culture and history in the U.S. territories.

 

Emily E. Graves

Emily Graves is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in ecology at the University of California (UC), Davis. Her research investigates the intersections of movement ecology and conservation physiology to understand the potential role that agricultural pesticides play in the population dynamics of bird species of conservation concern. She is currently utilizing animal tracking technology to discover how differences in tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) foraging behavior affect colony health and reproductive success in natural and working landscapes, and how these differences are impacted by agricultural pesticides. Graves is a co-founder of Science-Informed Leadership, a graduate student-led effort to promote evidence-based governance and decision-making in the executive branch, and served as National Volunteer Coordinator during their advocacy campaign in 2017. She is currently a co-chair of the Policy Committee in the Society for Conservation Biology – Davis Chapter. Graves holds a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degree in avian sciences from UC Davis.

 

Chelsea L. Merriman

Chelsea Merriman is a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Boise State University. Her research focuses on using interdisciplinary methods to understand the larger impacts of landscape and chemical diversity on the reproduction of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), as well as the impacts on sagebrush in the steppe. Utilizing geospatial, biological, and econometric tools and analyses, she hopes to tell a holistic story about the temporal and physiological trade-offs both plants and animals make to survive and reproduce in a changing environment. Merriman received her Bachelor of Science in environmental science and anthropology from the University of Notre Dame in 2014. A Boise native, she spends every waking moment that she is not working outdoors, hiking, and fishing with her friends, family, and dog Rosie.

 

Steffanie M. Munguía

Steffanie Munguía is completing her Master of Arts in international environmental policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey. She is specifically interested in researching the ecological impacts of natural resource management decisions in the human contexts in which they are made. Before coming to MIIS, she received two Bachelor of Science degrees in integrative animal biology and environmental science and policy from the University of South Florida. While there, Munguía conducted ecological research on house sparrow invasion expansion in Africa, native amphibian populations in central Florida, grassland songbird breeding behavior in Kansas, and invasive iguanas in South Florida. She attended an ESA Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Success (SEEDS) workshop in Puerto Rico in April 2017. Munguía is committed to enhancing access to scientific research for diverse communities and believes that government support of science is necessary for resource management and continued growth, discovery, and innovation for generations to come.

 

Vera W. Pfeiffer

Vera Pfeiffer is a Ph.D. candidate at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Plants and pollinators hold a fascination for her and motivate her to study plant and pollinator diversity, pollinator foraging and plant-pollinator network structure, and resilience from a broader ecological network perspective. Pfeiffer has worked with Long-term Ecological Research scientists in the Oregon Cascades Mountains; landscape ecologists and geneticists at the University of Wisconsin – Madison; and math and physics faculty at the Evolution and Ecology program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria. She recently returned from Europe, where she spent a year as a visiting ecology Ph.D. student at Mendel University through a U.S. student Fulbright research fellowship. While there, she conducted a project focused on ecological boundaries, specifically bumble bee foraging practices across agricultural-urban and agricultural-forest edge landscapes. Pfeiffer is now finishing her Ph.D. and working to communicate what she has learned about the influence of landscape on our native pollinators and plant-pollinator interactions and hoping to provide a stronger, more informed context for effective and productive policy development.

 

Johnny J. Quispe

Johnny Quispe is a doctoral student at Rutgers University’s Department of Ecology and Evolution investigating the effects of sea-level rise to coastal wetlands and the vulnerabilities of coastal areas prone to flooding, identifying areas for restoration and flooding mitigation, and quantifying damage from future flooding. He aims to connect and reconnect communities with their shorelines while learning from locals about their coasts’ past; especially in low-income inner cities where communities might not have access to waterfronts and do not have the opportunity to interact with the surrounding waterways. Quispe plans to expand his research into disadvantaged coastal communities by working to preserve cultural identity, fostering sustainable relationships, and inspiring minorities to pursue science careers. His previous work experience encompassed conservation, restoration, and environmental remediation projects in New Jersey in the nonprofit, public, and academic sectors. Quispe earned a Bachelor of Science in international environmental policy, institutions, and behaviors at Rutgers University.

 

Urooj S. Raja

Urooj Raja is a doctoral student in environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where her dissertation research examines innovative media technologies with a focus on virtual reality and augmented reality mediums to devise innovative solutions to ‘wicked’ problems like climate change. Before this, she worked as a humanitarian adviser at the United Nations and did a stint at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. Other work experience for Raja is noteworthy. She served as an instructor in Columbia University’s Community Impact initiative, the Harlem Children’s Zone and also as a staffer for a New York State Assembly member. Raja graduated from Princeton University with honors, and she is the recipient of a 2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the 2016 Environmental Fellowship from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment. The New York Times and The Washington Post published articles featuring Raja’s research.

Jenna M. Sullivan

Jenna Sullivan is a Ph.D. candidate in Drs. Bruce Menge and Jane Lubchenco’s marine community ecology lab in the Integrative Biology Department at Oregon State University. In her research, she utilizes the diverse, well-studied system of the Oregon coast rocky intertidal to gain insights into how human-induced changes, including ocean acidification and top predator loss, will affect individual species and their interactions. Sullivan’s research focuses on the keystone sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), and she is currently characterizing the community effects of the decline in this top predator as a result of sea star wasting disease. Following Lubchenco’s lead, she delves into the role of science in policy and management and on ways to successfully communicate with and engage diverse audiences. Sullivan received an undergraduate degree in biology from Dartmouth College.

 

 

Click here to see a Flickr album with more photos of this year’s award winners.

 

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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 http://www.esa.org.

Ecological Society of America announces 2018 award recipients

ESA LogoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, 16 March 2018
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

 

 

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present the 2018 awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La. The awards ceremony will take place during the Scientific Plenary on Monday, August 6, at 8 AM in the La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Learn more about ESA awards on our home website.

 

Eminent Ecologist Award: F. Stuart Chapin III

The Eminent Ecologist Award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.

F. Stuart Chapin III, professor emeritus of ecology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, transformed our understanding of terrestrial ecosystems over his 50-year career. He has been an intellectual leader in tackling questions about how humans shape ecosystems and how human well-being depends on those ecosystems, driving projects on sustainability for communities in Alaska, and engaging these communities to seek solutions to declining livelihoods caused by climate change. He has also been an international leader in developing solutions to our many environmental challenges.

His early work linked plant physiology to nutrient limitation and allocation in plants, demonstrating how these processes affect nutrient cycling in ecosystems and shape the types of plant defenses deployed against herbivores. He synthesized diverse ideas into a working model for the feedbacks between ecosystem functioning and plant growth and defense strategies, showing how these physiological processes can drive broad ecosystem processes at both local and global scales. Through a lifetime of study in tundra ecosystems, he broke ground in research into the influence of elevated carbon dioxide on boreal ecosystems, demonstrating critical feedbacks between vegetation changes and climate dynamics. His work on the dynamics of plant succession at Glacier Bay, Alaska, is a classic of the ecological literature.

Chapin has served the scientific community as a past president of the Ecological Society of America and on many editorial boards. He directed the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research site and the Resilience and Adaptation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, and served on advisory boards for numerous government and scientific organizations, particularly on issues of climate policy. He has been praised as strong mentor and advisor to students, friends, and colleagues throughout his career—generous with his time, ideas, and encouragement in support of great science.

 

MacArthur Award: Katharine N. Suding

The Robert H. MacArthur Award honors an established ecologist in mid-career for meritorious contributions to ecology, in the expectation of continued outstanding ecological research. Award winners generally are within 25 years from the completion of their PhD.

Katharine Suding, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, is a leader in community ecology. She applies empirical and theoretical approaches to address fundamental and applied problems faced by ecological communities in today’s changing world. She has impacted the field of ecology not only through her numerous publications, but also through the students and postdocs she has mentored, and through her leadership in interdisciplinary collaborations.

Suding’s work in grassland ecosystems demonstrated how species’ traits affect the persistence and abundance of species in response to environmental stressors, many of which are related to human activities such as nitrogen deposition, grazing, and changes in rainfall. Her work in alpine systems has revealed the mechanisms by which alpine communities respond to climate change, particularly the role of plant-soil feedbacks. Her research focuses on community assembly and response to environmental perturbations, and the implications for restoration and management. She has taken many leadership roles in interdisciplinary collaborations to investigate patterns and processes within and among ecosystems. She addresses both fundamental and applied problems in ecology, using empirical and theoretical approaches to understand how communities work.

Suding received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 1999. She has since mentored many graduate students and postdocs who now have successful careers in academic institutions, and in agencies and NGOs doing practical work in restoration and landscape management. She has contributed to over 120 articles and co-edited two books, and has been an active leader in the National Science Foundation’s-Long Term Ecological Research network. She has spread the curiosity that feeds her own research to students and collaborators, emphasizing the need to combine basic and applied research in our changing world.

 

Distinguished Service Citation: Scott L. Collins

The Distinguished Service Citation recognizes long and distinguished volunteer service to ESA, the scientific community, and the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare.

Scott Collins, distinguished professor of biology at the University of New Mexico, has brought extraordinary vision and leadership to advancing the science of ecology, to developing and communicating the need for long-term and broad-scale research infrastructure that enables advancement of ecological knowledge, to the education of young ecologists, and to the Ecological Society of America. He has long recognized the importance of scientists’ active participation in their professional communities, which is well illustrated by decades of service to the ESA and the broader scientific community.

Collins has served in nearly all possible roles within the Society, including vice president of Public Affairs and ESA president in 2013. He served on the editorial boards of two of the Society’s journals, Ecosphere and Ecology, and has chaired or has been a member of eight committees and sections. During his tenure as chair of the Publications Committee, he led two intensive editor-in-chief reviews. He cares deeply about training the next generation of ecologists and has been very active in ESA’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program for undergraduates.

Scott has served the broader ecological community for more than 25 years as a faculty member, educator and mentor, and leader within the scientific community. He teaches both undergrad and graduate student classes at the University of New Mexico and actively promotes research activities for students through his leadership role in a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program and in SEEDS. While a program officer at the National Science Foundation, he was instrumental in developing and supporting many large-scale ecological initiatives, including the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the Long Term Ecological Research program, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and the Integrated Research Challenges.

As a researcher, Collins helped transform the field of community ecology by identifying the mechanisms that control species diversity in grasslands. The framework he developed to explain the effects of disturbance on plant communities is a significant contribution to ecological theory.

Collins has dedicated significant amounts of time to engaging with national policy makers and federal agency personnel. In his briefings to Congress, he has emphasized the importance of long-term and broad-scale ecological research, long-term data sets, and research infrastructure needs for the biological and environmental sciences.

 

Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education: Diane Ebert-May

Odum Award recipients demonstrate their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities. 

Diane Ebert-May is a true pioneer in ecology education. For decades, she has encouraged ecologists to develop their teaching based on the principles developed through pedagogical research that reveal the best practices to facilitate student learning of complex ideas in science. Her development program, Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST), introduces young faculty and postdoctoral fellows to evidence-based teaching practices early in their careers, while collecting data on the effectiveness of these practices as they are implemented. This innovative faculty development program has received multiple rounds of funding from the National Science Foundation and trained hundreds of today’s ecology faculty. Many of the techniques promoted by FIRST are now routine in ecological classrooms.

Ebert-May’s substantial body of published work on teaching and assessment methods helped legitimize educational research as a valid pursuit in the discipline of ecology. She has inspired ecological educators through her publications on science pedagogy, her leadership of the Education Section of the ESA, and her energetic and passionate presentations. Ebert-May practices what she preaches, teaching with engaging, inquiry-based, active-learning techniques that inspire students to think, ask questions of the material, form hypotheses, make connections, and become scientists.

 

Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award: Zakiya Holmes Leggett

ESA’s Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching, or outreach.

Zakiya Holmes Leggett, assistant professor of forestry and environment at North Carolina State University, has been proactive throughout her career in mentoring and recruiting students from diverse ethnic backgrounds into the field of ecology. As a vanguard for African American women in soil and forest ecology and sustainability studies, she is a notable mentor for student populations that are significantly underrepresented in the field.

Leggett participated in one of the first cohorts of ESA’s SEEDS program as a student at Tuskegee University. She has remained actively involved with SEEDS as a mentor and member of the Advisory Board, helping to grow this diversity program at ESA in the last 16 years, and is active on the Advisory Board of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tuskegee.

She serves as NCSU’s campus director for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars (DDCS) Program,  which trains undergraduate students that are interested in research experiences in conservation issues as well as encouraging human diversity in those fields. She has been equally as involved in helping career development programs for minority students in the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) professional society. In a short time, her ability to recruit minority students into the workforce, in non-academic research positions and for academic graduate programs, has made an impact in enhancing human diversity of ecologists throughout the United States.

During her decade as a sustainability scientist at the Weyerhaeuser Company, she involved students from diverse ethnic backgrounds in her work designing and executing multidisciplinary research studies to address environmental sustainability for a global forest products company. She continues this mentoring work as an invited speaker at schools, national conferences, and universities, sharing her passion for environmental education and stewardship.

 

Robert H. Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award: David B. Lindenmayer

The Whittaker Award recognizes an ecologist with an earned doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides outside the United States.

David Lindenmayer, Australian Research Council Laureate Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra, is a world leader in landscape-scale conservation ecology, contributing significantly to the understanding of biodiversity both within Australia and around the world. He specializes in establishing large-scale, long-term research programs that are underpinned by rigorous experimental design, detailed sampling, and innovative statistical analyses. He is a prodigious author of more than 650 scientific, peer-reviewed publications, 111 book chapters, and 44 scholarly books, including 5 well-known textbooks. His work has been influential in developing ways to conserve biodiversity across a range of wild and urban landscapes, including reserves, national parks, wood production forests, and farmland.

 

W.S. Cooper Award: Jonas J. Lembrechts, Aníbal Pauchard, Jonathan Lenoir, Martin A. Nuñez, Charly Géron, Arne Ven, Pablo Bravo-Monasterio, Ernesto Teneb, Ivan  Nijs, and Ann Milbau.

The Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors, such as glaciations and climate history, on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across landforms.

Cold places are notable for their comparative lack of non-native plants. But figuring out why this is the case is difficult given that high-elevation and high-latitude habitats tend to be not only cold, but also relatively undisturbed, remote, and nutrient-poor. In an ambitious set of experiments, Jonas Lembrechts and colleagues experimentally manipulated disturbance, nutrients, and seed input along elevational gradients in southern South America and northern Scandinavia. They found that disturbance had the strongest effect at all sites, allowing non-native species to establish well above their current elevational limits. The results have clear implications for the future of cold-climate ecosystems affected by warming and increased rates of disturbance.

 

George Mercer Award: Rachel M. Germain, Sharon Y. Strauss and Benjamin Gilbert

The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding, recently-published, ecological research paper by young scientists.

Rachel Germain, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues evaluated how dispersal limitation and environmental filtering influence local-scale diversity across a range of spatial scales. Using a clever experimental approach adopted from restoration ecology, they vacuumed seeds off field plots and used the collected seeds to create homogenous propagule pools across a range of scales. They found a striking effect of dispersal limitation: local communities harbored roughly half as many species as they could in the absence of dispersal limitation. Their findings advance the understanding of a fundamental ecological problem and give insight into how to better manage biodiversity in a global biodiversity hotspot.

 

Sustainability Science Award: Seema Jayachandran, Joost de Laat, Eric F. Lambin, Charlotte Y. Stanton, Robin Audy, Nancy E. Thomas

The Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of the scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences.

Many international programs seek to motivate landowners to change their behavior and take up practices that would reduce land degradation and offset carbon emissions. The award-winning study by Seema Jayachandran and colleagues is notable for its methodology, which avoided several of the pitfalls that have limited the reliability of prior efforts to assess the value of payments for ecosystem services (PES) to motivate landowners.

The authors applied the ‘gold standard’ of experimental research to sustainability science by randomly assigning 121 Ugandan villages to groups that did or did not receive PES to motivate changing forestry practice. They monitored results using high-quality remote sensing data, and demonstrated that PES groups reduced deforestation to half that of the control group. The research demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in evaluating questions in sustainability science. It relies on the expertise of economists, remote sensing specialists, and a local NGO, which led the project. The government of Uganda and international organizations also played important roles in identifying participating villages and assuring compliance. The study represents a major step forward in the evaluation of PES for global conservation interventions.

  • Jayachandran, S., J. de Laat, E. Lambin, C. Stanton, R. Audy and N. Thomas. Cash for Carbon: A randomized trial of payments for ecosystem services to reduce deforestation. Science 357: 267-273.

 

Innovation in Sustainability Science Award: Laura E. Dee, Michel De Lara, Christopher Costello, Steven D. Gaines

The Innovation in Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the past five years exemplifying leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges.

Many conservation organizations have shifted their stated objectives from preserving biodiversity to protecting nature for the benefits it provides to society—known as ecosystem services. Laura Dee and colleagues addressed the question, if conservation decisions were based solely on optimizing ecosystem services, how much protection of biodiversity could arise? Although biodiversity contributes to ecosystem services, the details of which species are critical, and whether they will be lost in the future, are fraught with uncertainty. Explicitly considering this uncertainty, they integrated ecology and economics to develop a new theoretical framework that addresses this question. They found that protecting more species than are presumed critical is optimal due to uncertainty, and define conditions when the optimal protection strategy is to protect all species, no species, and cases in between. Their analysis provides criteria to evaluate when managing for particular ecosystem services could warrant protecting all species, given uncertainty. Evaluating this criterion with empirical estimates from different ecosystems suggests that optimizing some services will be more likely to protect most species than others. Therefore, these results also define when managing for ecosystem services alone could leave significant biodiversity unprotected, and other strategies will be needed to also preserve biodiversity.

 

Learn more about the August 7–12, 2017 ESA Annual Meeting on the meeting website: http://esa.org/neworleans/

 

ESA welcomes attendance from members of the press and waives registration fees for reporters and public information officers. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org.

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The Ecological Society of America (ESA), 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 http://www.esa.org.

Getting to the roots of Sahara mustard invasion in the American Southwest

2017 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America:
Linking biodiversity, material cycling and ecosystem services in a changing world
6–11 August 2017

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, 12 July 2017
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

 

Daniel Winkler collects plant tissue samples for genomic analyses to uncover the spread of the invasive Sahara mustard in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California in February 2015. Credit: Susan Gilliland.

Daniel Winkler collects plant tissue samples for genomic analyses to uncover the spread of the invasive Sahara mustard in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California in February 2015. Credit: Susan Gilliland.

In 2015, a rural community in southeastern California approached Daniel Winkler and his doctoral advisor, Travis Huxman, for help with an invader that was hurting their local economy. An Old World annual plant called Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) was spreading rapidly through the deserts of the southwestern U.S., carpeting the local Anza-Borrego Desert in spring, and smothering the native wildflowers that draw tourists to the region. Loss of native plants put the animals that depend on them for food and shelter at risk. The mustard was disrupting the entire desert ecosystem.

The Tubb Canyon Nature Conservancy asked Winkler to take on a project to learn what enabled Sahara mustard to adapt so successfully — and, hopefully, gain insight into how to stop it. Winkler will report his findings on August 11, at the Ecological Society of America’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon.

“In 2015 I went on the greatest American road trip — 5000 miles of highway, dirt roads, and trails — to visit over 50 sites in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Nevada, the current range of Sahara mustard in the U.S.,” said Winkler. He collected 2,000 leaf samples and up to a million seeds.

The project was a good fit for Winkler, who was already studying native flowers in the Sonoran. It also benefited from his years working at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service prior to pursuing a doctoral degree in ecology. His collection road trip included stops at ten national parks and monuments. He collaborated with park managers, citizen scientist programs, and volunteer groups to obtain samples.

“It’s usually a challenge to get permits to work in these parks, but in this case I got immediate calls back. The land managers have no idea how to stop the spread of Sahara mustard. It grows fast, self-fertilizes, and each plant can produce up to 10,000 seeds. It’s a real problem,” said Winkler.

Back in the lab, Winkler investigated the plant’s adaptation to local conditions through multigenerational garden experiments with seeds from ten representative locations selected from his collecting road trip, spanning the Sahara mustard’s range. He found that the timing of seed germination, leaf growth, and flowering had shifted to take advantage of temperature and precipitation patterns in the landscapes it invaded. Sahara mustard grows very fast in response to variable winter rains.

Sahara mustard’s native range is southern Europe, northern Africa, and most of the Middle East. It is believed to have been introduced into California’s Coachella Valley in the 1920s, and began spreading notably in the Southwest in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with explosive growth only in the last 20 years or so. The relatively recent establishment lends hope that it can be eradicated, said Winkler. His next step is to collect samples in the native range to compare to plants in the U.S. to learn more about the original introduction of the plant in North America.

Winkler, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Irvine, was a recipient of a 2016 award from the Ecological Society’s Forrest Shreve Student Fund, which supplies $1,000-2,000 to support ecological research by graduate or undergraduate student members of ESA in the hot deserts of North America (Sonora, Mohave, Chihuahua, and Vizcaino). Support from the award will fund rapid “next generation” DNA sequencing to uncover unique genetic signatures for each plant. By comparing the genetic signatures, he will learn how similar plants growing across the U.S. southwest are to each other, and to populations in Sahara mustard’s native range. Identifying the source location, or locations, of the U.S. invasion, he said, could aid in finding biological control agents.

 

COS 183-5 – Local adaptation during the rapid expansion of the invasive Sahara mustard in the southwestESA2017 portland logo

 

 

2017 Annual Meeting in Portland Oregon
6–11 August 2017

Environmental scientists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on Portland, Oregon this August for the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Five thousand attendees are expected to gather for nearly four thousand scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Oregon Convention Center on August 6th through 11th, 2017.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free.To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.

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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 10,000 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 http://www.esa.org

ESA announces the recipients of the 2016 Murray F. Buell and E. Lucy Braun Student Awards

Awards recognize students for outstanding research presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 22 May 2017
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

 

Julienne NeSmith removes exotic cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) to test effects of the invader on pine tree performance across an environmental gradient at an experimental site near Archer, Florida, in October 2014. Credit: Luke Flory.

Julienne NeSmith removes exotic cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) to test effects of the invader on pine tree performance across an environmental gradient at an experimental site near Archer, Florida, in October 2014. Credit: Luke Flory.

The Ecological Society of America recognizes Michael J.M. McTavish and Julienne E. NeSmith for outstanding student research presentations at the 101st Annual Meeting of the Society in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in August 2016. ESA will present the awards during the 2017 Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon. The awards ceremony will take place on Monday, August 7, at 8 AM in the Oregon Ballroom at the Oregon Convention Center.

Murray F. Buell had a long and distinguished record of service and accomplishment in the Ecological Society of America. Among other things, he ascribed great importance to the participation of students in meetings and to excellence in the presentation of papers. To honor his selfless dedication to the younger generation of ecologists, the Murray F. Buell Award for Excellence in Ecology is given to a student for the outstanding oral paper presented at the ESA Annual Meeting.

Lucy Braun, an eminent plant ecologist and one of the charter members of the Society, studied and mapped the deciduous forest regions of eastern North America and described them in her classic book, The Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America. To honor her, the E. Lucy Braun Award for Excellence in Ecology is given to a student for the outstanding poster presentation at the ESA Annual Meeting. Papers and posters are judged on the significance of ideas, creativity, quality of methodology, validity of conclusions drawn from results, and clarity of presentation.

Award panel members honored Michael J.M. McTavish with the Buell Award for his presentation “Selective granivory of exotic earthworms within commercial grass seed mixes: Implications for seeding-based restoration in invaded ecosystems.” McTavish is a doctoral candidate working with Professor Stephen D. Murphy in the School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

The invasion of earthworms into previously earthworm-free soils is instigating sweeping change in the ecosystems of eastern North America. This has brought interest in the earthworms’ appetite for seeds and how they may impact ecological restoration projects that add seeds to soil. McTavish investigated the characteristics of commercial grass seeds favored by the exotic earthworm Lumbricus terrestris. He observed how earthworm activity affected the biomass of different types of grass in outdoor, enclosed experiments called mesocosms, which simulate natural environments under controlled conditions.  He found that earthworms preferred smaller seeds that had been coated to increase water uptake, resulting in decreased grass biomass in mesocosms planted with coated seeds. The judges felt that McTavish showed excellence in presenting and answering his experimental questions, particularly praising his distribution of text and pictures. His experimental results formed a comprehensive and important story.

Michael McTavish sets up mulch plots to assess earthworm interactions with soil amendment at Glenorchy Conservation Area, Ontario, Canada, in November 2014. Credit: Heather Cray.

Michael McTavish sets up mulch plots to assess earthworm interactions with soil amendment at Glenorchy Conservation Area, Ontario, Canada, in November 2014. Credit: Heather Cray.

Panel members honored Julienne E. NeSmith with the Braun Award for her poster “Interactive effects of soil moisture and plant invasion on pine tree survival.” NeSmith is a graduate student working with Associate Professor of Agronomy S. Luke Flory in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

NeSmith investigated the separate and combined effects of drought and exotic grass invasion on the survival of native loblolly (Pinus teada) and slash (Pinus elliottii) pine in central Florida by manipulating environmental conditions in experimental garden plots. Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) is an aggressively invasive, highly flammable perennial grass which arrived in the southeastern United States in the early twentieth century. Drought and cogongrass invasion each separately decreased survival of both pine species, but invasion only exacerbated the effects of drought on the survival of loblolly pine. The presence of cogongrass offset the effects of drought on slash pine survival in the experimental garden plots. NeSmith attributed the greater survival of slash pine under drought conditions to higher soil moisture and humidity in invaded plots than non-invaded plots. Judges recognized NeSmith’s ability to explain the experimental details and the management implications of her results and enjoyed her enthusiasm for the project.

2017 Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon

Environmental scientists from 50 U.S. states, U. S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on Portland, Oregon this August for the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Five thousand attendees are expected to gather for nearly four thousand scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Oregon Convention Center on August 6th through 11th, 2017.

ESA invites reporters and institutional public information officers to attend the Annual Meeting for free. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org.ESA2017 portland logo

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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 10,000 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 http://www.esa.org

Ecological Society of America announces 2017 award recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

 

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present the 2017 awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society’s Annual Meeting in Portland, Ore. The awards ceremony will take place during the Scientific Plenary on Monday, August 7, at 8 AM in the Oregon Ballroom, Oregon Convention Center. Learn more about ESA awards on our home website.

 

Eminent Ecologist Award: Diana Harrison Wall

The Eminent Ecologist Award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.

Soil ecologist Diana Wall, the founding director of the Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, is world-renowned for uncovering the importance of below-ground processes. Best known for her outstanding quarter century of research in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, one of the more challenging environments of the planet, her research has revealed fundamental soil processes from deserts and forests to grasslands and agricultural ecosystems to New York City’s Central Park. Dr. Wall’s extensive collaborative work seeks to understand how the living component of soil contributes to ecosystem processes and human wellbeing—and to in turn uncover how humans impact soils, from local to global scales.

In landmark studies, she revealed the key role of nematodes and other tiny animals as drivers of decomposition rates and carbon cycling. The biodiversity in soils, she found, influences ecosystem functioning and resilience to human disturbance, including climate change. She demonstrated that the biodiversity belowground can at times be decoupled from biodiversity aboveground. Her focus on nematodes in soils in very harsh environments, from the cold, dry Antarctic to hot, dry deserts, opened up a perspective on how life copes with extreme environments. She has a laudable record of publishing excellent papers in top-ranked scientific journals.

Dr. Wall has played a vital role as an ecological leader, chairing numerous national and international committees and working groups and serving as president of the Ecological Society of America in 1999. She is a Fellow of ESA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Nematologists. In 2013, she received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for her outspoken efforts as an ambassador for the environmental and economic importance of soils and ecology.

Currently, she is scientific chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, which works to advance soil biodiversity for use in policy and management of terrestrial ecosystems. Dr. Wall is well-respected in her role as mentor of young scientists, over several generations, and as a communicator of science outside the usual academic arenas.

 

Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education: Kathleen Weathers

Odum Award recipients demonstrate their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities. 

Kathleen Weathers is a senior scientist and the G. Evelyn Hutchinson chair of ecology at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, where she focuses on freshwater ecosystems. For more than a decade, she has been dedicated to advancing bottom-up network science, creating training opportunities for graduate students and tools for citizen science engagement. Her efforts strive to equip the next generation of ecologists and managers with the skills needed to protect freshwater resources.

Dr. Weathers played a guiding role in the formation of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), and currently acts as co-chair. As part of this international grassroots collaboration she helped develop Lake Observer, a crowd-sourcing app that streamlines the way that researchers and citizen scientists record water quality observations in lakes, rivers, and streams.

Dr. Weathers has made it a priority to mentor students and early-career scientists participating in GLEON, with an eye toward diversity, inclusion, and instruction. She helped empower GLEON’s student association, which contributes meaningfully to governance and training within the broader network. She also spearheaded the development of the GLEON Fellows Program, a two-year graduate immersion in data analysis, international collaboration, effective communication, and team science.

The GLEON Fellows Program has emerged as a model for training initiatives in macrosystem ecology, and will affect the ecological community positively for decades to come, as participants carry their training forward to other institutions and endeavors.

 

Distinguished Service Citation: Debra Peters

The Distinguished Service Citation recognizes long and distinguished volunteer service to ESA, the scientific community, and the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare.

Debra Peters is the founding editor-in-chief of ESA’s newest journal, Ecosphere, created in 2010 to offer a rapid path to publication for research reports from across the spectrum of ecological science, including interdisciplinary studies that may have had difficulty finding a home within the scope of the existing ESA family of journals. In her hands the online-only, open-access journal has claimed a successful niche in the ecological publications landscape, expanding to publish over 400 manuscripts in 2016.

Dr. Peters, an ecologist for the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service’s (USDA-ARS) Jornada Experimental Range and lead principal investigator for the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research program in Las Cruces, New Mexico, has served on the editorial boards of ESA’s journals Ecological Applications, Ecology, and Ecological Monographs. She chaired the Society’s Rangeland Section, was a founding member and chair of the Southwest Chapter, and has served as member-at-large on the Governing Board. As program chair for the 98th Annual Meeting of the Society, she inaugurated the wildly popular Ignite talks, which give speakers the opportunity to present conceptual talks that do not fit into the standard research presentation format.

Dr. Peters has greatly contributed to the broader research enterprise as senior advisor to the chief scientist at the USDA, and as a member of the National Ecological Observatory Network’s (NEON) Board of Directors. She has provided this quite amazing array of services in support of the Society and her profession while maintaining an outstanding level of research productivity and scientific leadership in landscape-level, cross-scale ecosystem ecology. Many of her more than 100 research publications have been cited more than 100 times. Her fine record of research led to her election as a Fellow of ESA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In all respects, Debra Peters exemplifies distinguished service to the ESA, and to science.

 

Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award: Gillian Bowser

ESA’s Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching, or outreach.

Gillian Bowser, research scientist in Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, is honored for her joyful and successful recruitment and retention of under-represented students to the study of ecology, to public service in support of the natural world, and to empowerment of women and minorities worldwide.

 

W.S. Cooper Award: Andrew. J. Trant, Wiebe Nijland, Kira M. Hoffman, Darcy L. Mathews, Duncan McLaren, Trisalyn A. Nelson, and Brian M. Starzomski

The Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession, or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors, such as glaciations and climate history, on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across landforms.

University of Waterloo, Ontario professor Andrew Trant and colleagues at the University of Victoria and the Hakai Institute in British Columbia revealed a previously unappreciated historical influence on forest productivity: long-term residence of First Nations people. Counter to a more familiar story of damage to ecosystems inflicted by people and their intensive use of resources, the activities of native people on the Central Coast of British Columbia enhanced the fertility of the soil around habitation sites, leading to greater productivity of the dominant tree species, the economically and culturally valuable western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don).

Through a combination of airborne remote sensing and on-the-ground field work, the authors showed that forest height, width, canopy cover, and greenness increased on and near shell middens. They presented the first documentation of influence on forest productivity by the daily life activities of traditional human communities.

  • Trant, AJ et al. (2016) Intertidal resource use over millennia enhances forest productivity. Nature Communications 7, Article number: 12491. doi:10.1038/ncomms12491

 

George Mercer Award: Jennifer Williams, Bruce Kendall, and Jonathan Levine

The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by young scientists.

Biological invasions, and migrations of native species in response to climate change, are pressing areas of interest in this time of global change. Fragmentation of the landscape by natural and human-made barriers slows the velocity of spread, but it is not known how patchy habitat quality might influence the potential for evolution to accelerate invasions.

Jennifer Williams, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues implemented a creative experimental design using the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that allowed them to disentangle ecological and evolutionary dynamics during population expansion. Some plant populations were allowed to evolve, while others were continually reset to their original genetic composition. The authors convincingly demonstrate that rapid evolution can influence the speed at which populations spread, especially in fragmented landscapes.

  • Williams, J.L., B.E. Kendall, and J.M. Levine (2016) Rapid evolution accelerates plant population spread in fragmented experimental landscapes. Science 353(6298), pp. 482-485. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf6268

 

Sustainability Science Award: Jianguo Liu, Harold Mooney, Vanessa Hull, Steven J. Davis, Joanne Gaskell, Thomas Hertel, Jane Lubchenco, Karen C. Seto, Peter Gleick, Claire Kremen, and Shuxin Li

The Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of the scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences.

Sustainability challenges like air pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, energy and food security, disease spread, species invasion, and water shortages and pollution are often studied, and managed, separately, although the problems they present are interconnected. Jianguo Liu and colleagues provide a framework for addressing global sustainability challenges from a coupled human and natural systems approach that incorporates both socioeconomic and environmental factors. They review several recent papers that have quantified at times conflicting efforts to provide ecosystem services, when these efforts are examined in a global perspective. The authors argue for the need to quantify spillover systems and feedbacks and to integrate analyses over multiple spatial and temporal scales. This will likely require the development of new analytical frameworks both to understand the social ecological mechanisms involved and to inform management and policy decisions for global sustainability.

  • Liu, Jianguo (Jack), H. Mooney, V. Hull, S.J. Davis, J. Gaskell, T. Hertel, J. Lubchenco, K.C. Seto, P. Gleick, C. Kreman, and S. Li (2015) Systems integration for global sustainability. Science 347(6225), DOI: 10.1126/science.1258832

 

Innovation in Sustainability Science Award:. Ian Donohue, Helmut Hillebrand, José M. Montoya, Owen L. Petchey, Stuart L. Pimm, Mike S. Fowler, Kevin Healy, Andrew L. Jackson, Miguel Lurgi, Deirdre McClean, Nessa E. O’Connor, Eoin J. O’Gorman, Qiang Yang

The Innovation in Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the past five years exemplifying leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges.

One of the biggest challenges facing development of effective policy to address sustainability issues is that the concepts and vocabulary used by scientists to define and promote sustainability rarely translate into effective policy, because they do not include measures of success. This challenge is particularly apparent in the concept of stability and resilience, terms which are frequently used in policy statements and have long been the subject of empirical and theoretical research in ecology, but for which there are no easily defined and quantified metrics.

Ian Donohue and colleagues argue that much of the fault for this disconnect lies with the academic community. They summarize and analyze a number of examples to support their claim that ecologists have taken a one-dimensional approach to quantifying stability and disturbance when these are actually multi-dimensional processes. They argue that this has led to confused communication of the nature of stability, which contributes to the lack of adoption of clear policies. They propose three areas where future research is needed and make clear recommendations for better integrating the multidimensional nature of stability into research, policy and actions that should become a priority for all involved in sustainability science.

  • Donohue, I., H. Hillebrand, J.M. Montoya, O.L. Petchey, S.L. Pimm, M.S. Fowler, K. Healy, A.L. Jackson, M. Lurgi, D. McClean, N.E. O’Connor, E.J. O’Gorman, and Q. Yang (2016), Navigating the complexity of ecological stability. Ecology Letters, 19: 1172–1185. doi:10.1111/ele.12648

 

Robert H. Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award: Petr Pyšek

The Whittaker Award recognizes an ecologist with an earned doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides outside the United States.

Petr Pyšek, the chair of the Department of Invasion Ecology at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, is honored for his pioneering and insightful work in invasion ecology. Dr. Pyšek is editor-in-chief of Preslia (Journal of the Czech Botanical Society) and serves on the editorial boards of Biological Invasions, Diversity and Distributions, Folia Geobotanica, and Perspectives on Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics.

 

Forrest Shreve Student Research Fund: Daniel Winkler and Frederick Hansen

The Shreve Award supplies $1,000-2,000 to support ecological research by graduate or undergraduate student members of ESA in the hot deserts of North America (Sonora, Mohave, Chihuahua, and Vizcaino).

Daniel Winkler, a PhD student with Travis Huxman at University of California Irvine, studies the invasion of Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts. His dissertation focuses on determining the source populations of Sahara mustard and whether plasticity in functional traits is allowing the species to spread. Funds from the Forrest Shreve Student Research Fund will be used to process samples for leaf stable isotopes and elemental stoichiometry, allowing for a comparison of functional traits indicative of local adaptation and the species’ plasticity. Daniel was a National Park Service Young Leaders in Climate Change Fellow and a NSF EAPSI Research Fellow.

Frederick Hansen, an undergraduate student majoring in Biology at New Mexico State University, studies distributional patterns of soil microbes in desert systems with Assistant Professor Nicole Pietrasiak. His project builds upon NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) work he started last summer in conjunction with the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research program, where he studied surface soils in the spaces between shrubs in five different vegetation types. His initial work showed that functional group abundance of cyanobacteria in these inter-shrub spaces differed among vegetation types. Funds from the Forrest Shreve Student Research Fund will be used perform DNA extractions and sequence the microflora in these samples.

 

Learn more about the August 7–12, 2017 ESA Annual Meeting on the meeting website: http://esa.org/portland/

ESA welcomes attendance from members of the press and waives registration fees for reporters and public information officers. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org.

 


The Ecological Society of America (ESA), 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 10,000 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 http://www.esa.org.

Ecological Society of America announces 2016 award recipients

Details on the 2016 ESA Annual Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, 19 May 2016
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present the 2016 awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society’s Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. The awards ceremony will take place on Monday, August 8, at 8 AM in the Floridian Ballroom AB, Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. A preliminary meeting program is available on the meeting website. Learn more about ESA awards on our home website.

Eminent Ecologist Award: Jerry F. Franklin
The Eminent Ecologist Award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Jerry Franklin is renowned in the field of ecology for applying forestry research to management, challenging clear-cutting practices to mold a “new forestry” in the later 20th century attuned to healthy forest ecosystems. He taught foresters to value snags, fallen trees, and woody debris and urged forest managers to learn from natural patterns of disturbance and regeneration in forests. His emphasis that old growth forest is not “decadent wasteful stands” just needing a thorough clear-cutting, but instead a vital component of a healthy mosaic of forest types in managed landscapes, was revolutionary in forestry. He was instrumental in linking early landscape ecology to forestry, helping to develop landscape ecology as a discipline.

Dr. Franklin’s strong record of ecological scholarship on the old-growth and regenerating conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest stretches back to 1961. His work on the role of coarse woody debris in forest dynamics, and on articulating landscape and site-specific characteristics of successional dynamics, has been very influential, with implications ranging from biodiversity maintenance to carbon storage. Several of his papers have been cited thousands of times. He has been a leader in analyzing of the return of plant life to Mt. St. Helens following the 1980 eruption, developing influential ideas of “ecological memory” or biological legacies in ecosystem recovery from natural catastrophe.

Born in a small town on the coast of Oregon, an early love for the woods led Dr. Franklin to forestry and a lifetime study of ecology, starting with the USDA Forest Service in 1959. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forest management from Oregon State University in 1959 and 1961, going on to complete a doctorate in botany and soils at Washington State University in 1966. He has mentored the careers of a wide range of professionals, both in and out of the academy, as a teacher at Oregon State University and at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he has been a professor of ecosystem analysis in the College of Forest Resources since 1986. He served as President of the Ecological Society of America in 1993–4.

Dr. Franklin has played a highly significant role in developing major, multi-institutional programs aimed at forest ecology at the broadest scale, including the International Biological Program (IBP) in the 1960s and early 1970s, and later the Long-term Ecological Research Program (LTER). As the first program officer for the Ecosystem Studies Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF), he helped nurture the LTER network around the country. He had a particularly significant influence in fostering research and teaching at the Andrews LTER site, widely viewed as one of the best in the LTER network, and the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility. The long-term studies that Dr. Franklin presciently set up many years ago have already produced outstanding scientific insights and will be paying intellectual dividends for decades to come.

Robert H. MacArthur Award: Anurag A. Agrawal
The MacArthur Award, presented in alternate years, recognizes the contributions of an outstanding ecologist in mid-career. Anurag Agrawal of Cornell University has shown consistent leadership in opening up new research themes in ecology and continues to push the envelope with novel approaches to science, teaching, and community building. Like Robert H. MacArthur, Dr. Agrawal synthesizes conceptual themes within the field, drawing together topics as far ranging as the causes and consequences of variation in plant biodiversity, chemical ecology and coevolution, trait versus density-mediated interactions, and the interdisciplinary pursuit of environmental sustainability. His research has impact outside of ecology. His early work on phenotypic plasticity is widely cited in the fields of neurobiology, systems science, molecular biology, and beyond. He seamlessly applies his amazing natural history and empirical understanding of his study systems to develop new and exciting concepts in general ecological theory, grounded in the real world.

Eugene P. Odum Award for Excellence in Ecology Education: Carolyn L. Thomas and Bob R. Pohlad
Odum Award recipients demonstrate their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities. Bob Pohlad and Carolyn Thomas have been a passionate and committed team of educators in the field of ecology for almost four decades. While the work of either alone would be worthy of recognition with the Odum Award, this married team represents such an outstanding example of long-term mutual support and collaboration, both professionally and personally, that their colleagues who submitted their nomination feel that a shared award is the most appropriate way to honor their legacy in ecological education.

In their work as professors at Ferrum College, Drs. Thomas and Pohlad focus on integrating technology and research experiences into the ecology classroom. For decades, they have engaged students and local citizens in sophisticated, long-term, water quality monitoring projects in regional lakes, serving as pioneers in citizen science. They mentored K-12 science teachers through the School Yard Ecology Project, providing professional development for teachers to communicate ecological concepts in effective and engaging ways to younger students. They are founding members of the Collaborations through Appalachian Watersheds Project (CAWS) and the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN), both large-scale endeavors focused on developing innovative ways for ecologists and their students at primarily undergraduate institutions to collaborate and learn through authentic, multi-site research projects. Finally, they have both served the Ecological Society of America as Chairs of the Education Section, giving generously of their time to help other ecologists educate more effectively.

ESA Distinguished Service Citation: Carol A. Brewer
The Distinguished Service Citation recognizes long and distinguished volunteer service to ESA, the larger scientific community, and the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare. Carol Brewer, a professor emeritus at the University of Montana, has a long and distinguished record of service to the Ecological Society of America and to the broader science community, especially through her efforts in science and conservation education. She holds a B.S. in education as well as a B.A. in biology. In 1993, while still a doctoral student, the society asked her to be one of the campus leads for the new, NSF-supported “Schoolyard Ecology for Elementary School Teachers (SYEFEST) project. Shortly after receiving her Ph.D., she served on ESA’s Standing Committee on Education (1995–99) and became chair of the Education Section (1996–97).

Dr. Brewer helped develop ESA’s Education Office, now the highly successful Education and Diversity Office. She served two terms as ESA’s Vice-President for Education and Human Resources (2000–2006), chaired the Education and Human Resources Committee (2000–2006), and led ESA’s survey of undergraduate ecology education. Most recently, she served as Program Chair for the society’s 2015 Centennial Meeting in Baltimore, Md. Dr. Brewer is active in the Long Term Ecological Research network and was a founding member of the board of directors of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). She co-founded the citizen science Project Budburst in 2007.

Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award: Frank P. Day
This ESA award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching, or outreach. Frank Day, a professor of ecology and eminent scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. is known for mentoring many graduate and undergraduate students as well as his stellar career as a wetland scientist. For 14 years, he has been instrumental in obtaining National Science Foundation funding and developing and implementing wetland science career development mentoring programs for minority undergraduates. In 2002, as President of the Society of Wetland Scientists, he started the SWS Human Diversity Committee, developing their undergraduate mentoring infrastructure. He continues working on increasing minorities in wetland ecology in collaboration with ESA’s Strategies for Ecology Education Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) initiative and NSF’s Long Term Ecological Research Human Diversity Committee. Of the many students he has mentored in the study of wetlands, all have graduated with a B.S. or B.A. degree, 64 percent are currently enrolled in graduate school, and about half are employed in some capacity within a natural resource, wetland science or ecology field.

W.S. Cooper Award: Etienne Laliberté, Graham Zemunik, and Benjamin L. Turner
(2014) Environmental filtering explains variation in plant diversity along resource gradients. Science 345: 1602–1605. DOI: 10.1126/science.1256330

The Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors, such as glaciations and climate history, on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across landforms. Dr. Laliberté of the Université de Montréal (at the University of Western Australia at the time of the study), Dr. Zemunik of the University of Western Australia, and Dr. Turner of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute take a similar geobotanical angle in a study that simultaneously addresses alternative hypotheses underlying a geographic plant diversity gradient. Specifically, they tackle an age-old question in ecology—what determines spatial variation in species diversity—using a cleverly chosen system, an ancient dune ecosystem in southwestern Australia. The end result is a rare, compelling, example of regional and historical processes being key to explaining a local-scale diversity gradient.

George Mercer Award: Jennifer R. Gremer and D. Lawrence Venable
(2014) Bet hedging in desert winter annual plants: optimal germination strategies in a variable environment. Ecology Letters 17: 380–387. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12241

The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by young scientists. Unpredictable fluctuation in environmental conditions is a ubiquitous challenge for all forms of life. “Bet-hedging” names a strategy for dealing with environmental variation by adopting physical characteristics that are not best suited to average conditions, but allow survival in a wide variety of conditions, sacrificing short-term success to minimize risk over time. In a synthesis of 30 years of data, with multiple modeling approaches, Jennifer Gremer and D. Lawrence Venable, both at the University of Arizona at the time of the study (Dr. Gremer has since moved to the University of California, Davis), present definitive evidence that delayed seed germination acts as a bet-hedging strategy in winter annual plants of the Sonoran Desert. Their elegant paper provides a test of an age-old problem, in an iconic system. As predicted, species that face more risk exhibit stronger bet-hedging. This paper is a model of how to test general, qualitative theoretical predictions by making them quantitative. It provides a convincing example in a classic system, while at the same time inspiring new questions concerning the evolution of life history strategies.

Sustainablility Science Award: Margaret A. Palmer and J.B. Ruhl
(2015) Aligning restoration science and the law to sustain ecological infrastructure for the future. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13: 512–519. DOI:10.1890/150053

The Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of the scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences. Margaret Palmer and J.B. Ruhl tackle a critical issue in sustainability science: how the application of ecological science can be translated into effective policy that ensures the restoration of degraded ecosystems.

The complimentary expertise of the authors and their shared interest in restoration science and policy make this paper particularly noteworthy. Dr. Ruhl, director of Vanderbilt University’s Program on Law and Innovation and co-director of the Energy Environment and Land Use Program, has invested his career in legal and regulatory aspects of restoration and environmental science. As Director of the Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), Margaret Palmer, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and director of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), brings a transformative vision for advancing research and public understanding of sustainability science.

They make the case that, while restoration is a crucial tool that is used in environmental policy, lack of a clear ecological context for what constitutes restoration leads to confusion in implementing policy. The key, they argue, is to include consideration of establishing self-sustaining living systems and the landscape and environmental context essential to recovery. The paper presents an actionable research plan that bridges science and policy and includes specific guidance about how to best incorporate a clear and science-based definition of restoration into administrative laws.

Innovation in Sustainability Science Award: Ariana E. Sutton-Grier, Kateryna Wowk, and Holly A. Bamford.
(2015) Future of our coasts: The potential for natural and hybrid infrastructure to enhance the resilience of our coastal communities, economies and ecosystems. Environmental Science & Policy 51: 137–148 DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2015.04.006

The Innovation in Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the past five years exemplifying leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges. In the United States, Hurricane Sandy brought unprecedented attention to building resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems to the growing threats of storm surge and erosion. This has led to a focus on how both “natural infrastructure” and “hybrid infrastructure” that incorporates both natural and engineered features, can increase coastal protection.

Drs. Sutton-Grier, Wowk, and Bamford provide an exemplary example of how the integration of ecological and social science can inform and increase the sustainable management of coastal ecosystems worldwide. They synthesize available socio-environmental science about natural and hybrid infrastructure, including an analysis of the state of the U.S. policy landscape for coastal resilience, and laying out the key policy opportunities and the challenges to implementing natural and hybrid approaches. Their analysis is placed in a real-world context that highlights the importance of their own research and that of others related to natural and hybrid infrastructure. The paper has reached a wide-audience and promoted discussions about coastal resilience and sustainable management among a wide range of stakeholders including engineers, policy makers and coastal businesses.

Murray F. Buell Award: Cody S. Clements
The Buell award recognizes an outstanding research talk presented by a student at the ESA Annual Meeting. Panel members at the Centennial Annual Meeting of the ESA in Baltimore, Md. (August 2015) honored Cody S. Clements, a graduate student in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga., for his presentation “Seaweeds protect corals from predatory starfish: competitors become accomplices as reefs degrade” (abstract). His work is highly significant because it speaks to reef species interactions that may mitigate coral loss due to climate and ocean pH shifts. It has important management implications and tests foundational concepts about context dependence in species interactions. Reviewers commented on the creativity of the experimental methodology, thorough controls and multiple approaches to the hypothesis. They praised the clarity and pacing of the presentation, supported with well-chosen photos, video and charts.

E. Lucy Braun Award: Timothy Fegel
The Braun award recognizes an outstanding poster presented by a student at the ESA Annual Meeting. Panel members at the Centennial Annual Meeting of the ESA in Baltimore, Md. (August 2015) honored Timothy Fegel, a graduate student at Colorado State University, for his poster “Biogeochemical attributes of ice glaciers and rock glacier in low latitude alpine ecosystems” (abstract). The amount and quality of nutrients, metals, and contaminants coming into water bodies from melted glaciers can have a huge impact in those water bodies’ communities and cascade down to other levels of the ecosystem. Mr. Fegel sampled microbial communities in a large number of glacier meltwaters across several mountain ranges. His work is a timely and important study under the impending increased glacier melting due to climate change. Reviewers praised his poise and articulate engagement with questions, and the clear layout of information on the poster.

Honorary Membership Award: Richard Hobbs
Honorary Membership is given to a distinguished ecologist who has made exceptional contributions to ecology and whose principal residence and site of ecological research are outside of North America. Richard Hobbs, a professor of restoration ecology in the School of Plant Biology at the University of Western Australia, is an innovative, collaborative scientist with proven capacity to bridge the fields of basic and applied ecology. He laid foundational work in the area of novel ecosystems, the theme of the forthcoming 2016 ESA Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., and his research focuses on applying ecology in a rapidly changing world. He promotes ample, fruitful debate within our community and beyond.

Robert H. Whittaker Award: Simoneta Negrete-Yankelevich and Ezatollah Karami
The Whittaker Award recognizes an outstanding ecologist in a developing country who does not currently reside in the United States and is not a U.S. citizen. The award is open to ecologists at any career stage and covers expenses up to $1,200 for travel to the United States for research or to attend a meeting. Simoneta Negrete-Yankelevich is an outstanding researcher (equivalent to “senior scientist” at U.S. institutions) at the Instituto de Ecología A.C. (INECOL), in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. Her research focuses on soil ecology, its application to indigenous agroecosystems, and spatial ecology. She has a very active research career and many high profile accomplishments. Ezatollah Karami, a professor at Shiraz University in Iran, does applied research in agro-ecology and water sustainability. The selection committee was impressed with his contributions, and welcomes the re-integration of outstanding ecologist colleagues from Iran after that country’s many years of isolation.

Forest Shreve Student Research Fund: Nameer Baker and Camila Medeiros
The Shreve award supplies $1,000-2,000 to support ecological research by graduate or undergraduate student members of ESA in the hot deserts of North America (Sonora, Mohave, Chihuahua, and Vizcaino). Nameer Baker, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Irvine, works on the effects of climate on microbial decomposition and carbon cycling in desert systems. Camila Medeiros, beginning a doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles, focuses on the physiological ecology and mechanistic basis of species responses to water availability and drought in plant communities across California.

Learn more about the August 7–12, 2016 ESA Annual Meeting on the meeting website:  http://esa.org/ftlauderdale/

ESA welcomes attendance from members of the press and waives registration fees for reporters and public information officers. Information about our policy on press credentials and press room support is available on the 2016 Annual Meeting website. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org.

 


The Ecological Society of America (ESA), 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 10,000 member Society publishes six 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 http://www.esa.org.

ESA receives NSF Award to seed new Network for Next Generation Careers

ESA 100 years logoFor immediate release: Tuesday 15 September 2015
Contact: Alison Mize alison@esa.org 202.833.8773, ext. 205

 

The Ecological Society of America, in partnership with the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), will create a new network of prospective employers, faculty and professional societies over the next eighteen months with a $48,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The Next Generation Careers – Innovation in Environmental Biology Education (NGC) incubator project will explore undergraduate college career progression into environmental biology, including fields such as ecology, evolution, conservation, and natural resource management. 

“We all know that academia is able to absorb only a limited number of biology graduates. A vast majority of graduates find their way into industry, government, or other applied and non-science jobs,” said Teresa Mourad, ESA’s Director of Education and Diversity Programs and Principal Investigator for the project. “What is not clear is how Biology students are being prepared for these rapidly evolving career tracks in environmental biology with an innovative mindset.”

New groups of professionals will be brought together that include academic faculty, industry, government, and non-profit organization personnel.  By working together, the network will develop materials, programs and career development tracks designed for 21st century STEM professionals in environmental biology and inform the broader community of the nature of education and skills that are necessary for future jobs in this ever-changing field.  This project addresses the goals and programs of NSF’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education initiative, particularly the goal of building the professional STEM workforce for tomorrow.

The incubator project activities include surveys of biology department chairs, academic counselors, graduate schools as well as biology faculty and those at the nexus of biology and mathematics. Additionally, an analysis of job postings for entry-level positions in related jobs will seek to identify the most commonly sought skills for graduates with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Focus groups at selected disciplinary and professional scientific society meetings will also be organized to gather input. 

The results will be presented at a workshop of participants from academia, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations in the fall of 2016.  Implications of the findings for underrepresented populations of students will be underscored.

“Recommendations  generated at the workshop will help us establish the network of prospective employers, higher education and professional associations essential to invigorate career preparation programs,” said Geri Unger, SCB’s Executive Director and co-PI on the project.  “This will enable us to identify what faculty need to effectively inspire, motivate and mentor new students and build new synergies across sectors to advance Next Generation careers in Environmental Biology and allied fields.”


 

The Ecological Society of America is the largest professional organization for ecologists and environmental scientists in the world.   The Society’s 10,000 members work to advance our understanding of life on Earth, directly relevant to environmental issues such energy and food production, natural resource management, and emerging diseases.  ESA works to broadly share ecological information through activities that include policy and media outreach, education and diversity initiatives and projects that link the ecological research and management communities and help integrate ecological science into decision-making.  The Society also organizes scientific conferences and publishes high-impact journals. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is a global community of conservation professionals with members working in more than 100 countries, dedicated to advancing the science and practice of conserving Earth’s biological diversity.  SCB’s membership includes resource managers, educators, government, non-government, and private sector staff, students, and policy makers.  Our Sections, Chapters and Working Groups work regionally, locally and on issues concerning conservation and religion, freshwater, social science and conservation, and ecological economics and sustainability.  SCB hosts the international Congress on Conservation Biology, and regional meetings.  Our journals include “Conservation Biology” and “Conservation Letters”, both peer reviewed and high-impact. Visit the SCB website at http://www.conbio.org.

Ecological Society of America awarded National Science Foundation funding to retain diversity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 1 June 2015
Contact: Teresa Mourad, 202-833-8773 ext. 234, Teresa@esa.org

 

SEEDS alumna Betsabé Castro, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley starting in fall, 2015, studies artificial selection of medicinal and edible traits in plants native to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean islands with support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Read an interview to learn more about Betsabé's experience with SEEDS.

SEEDS alumna Betsabé Castro, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley starting in fall, 2015, studies artificial selection of medicinal and edible traits in plants native to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean islands with support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Read an interview to learn more about Betsabé’s experience with SEEDS.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded  a $597,643 grant to the Ecological Society of America’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program, supporting a three-pronged approach to increase diversity within the ecological field. The grant spans four years, beginning today.

The new NSF award will support activities that guide students to identify ecology as a viable career option, develop a sense of personal connection with science, and surmount cultural stereotypes that hinder participation. It will also fund development of a mechanism for connecting the “marketplace” of opportunities along a variety of career pathways in ecology.

“While most diversity programs seek to recruit and engage underrepresented students, this SEEDS project expands our work with the aim of retaining underrepresented students in the ecological field,” said Teresa Mourad, ESA Director of Education and Diversity Programs.

A 2011 National Academy of Science study indicates that underrepresented minority populations in the science and engineering workforce needs to triple to keep pace with the nation’s changing demographics. 

The NSF grant supports three new activities building on the existing SEEDS program: regional ecological field experiences, partnerships with field stations and researchers for undergraduate summer research, and a SEEDS Certificate program. Although the program is open to all students, it makes a special effort to attract minorities, first-generation college students, economically-disadvantaged and veteran students.

Working with over 90 SEEDS campus chapters across the US, regional field experiences funded by the NSF grant are designed specifically for freshmen and sophomore college students to gain real-world exposure by working hand-in-hand with ecologists. For many underrepresented students, this is usually their first opportunity to work at a field station or engage in a field investigation.

New ecological field station partnerships will offer more summer research opportunities for undergraduate students.  They will present their summer research at SEEDS Leadership Meetings and the ESA Annual Meeting. Held annually, the Leadership Meeting is an opportunity for SEEDS student leaders to engage in a dialogue about the connections between science and society. The meeting provides a venue for SEEDS participants to develop 21st century skills and understanding in communications, policy, community outreach and education, rounding out their experience as young scientists.

SEEDS students on the first regional field trip to Puerto Rico, in 2013.

SEEDS students record measurements in Puerto Rico on the program’s first regional field trip, in 2013.

Set for a Fall, 2015 launch, the SEEDS Certificate will function as the hub to provide students with a range of experiences to prepare them for an ecological career.  An ESA member will mentor each participating student during and after their participation in SEEDS to advise them in their career development. This is the first time that ESA will implement long-term mentoring in SEEDS.

“Just-in-time advising is critical for many students to succeed in ecology,” said Mourad.  “All too often, underrepresented students are simply unaware of the skills and experiences needed to succeed. For instance, students do not commonly know that research experience is required for acceptance into a graduate ecology program.”

Minority students face an additional hurdle—some of their institutions do not have ecology programs or cannot provide ecology research experiences.  This means they must seek out opportunities. SEEDS is designed to facilitate opportunities for them. Students also need to know the range of ecology careers that are available in both research and applied practice.

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SEEDing a diverse peer network:  read an interview with SEEDs alumna Betsabé Castro, currently completing her MA at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She will begin a PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2015 with support from the NSF’s prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship.


The Ecological Society of America (ESA), 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 10,000 member Society publishes six 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 http://www.esa.org.

Ecological Society of America announces 2015 award recipients

logoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, 7 May 2015
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

 

 

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present nine awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society’s 100th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. The awards ceremony will take place on Monday, August 10, at 8 AM in the Key Ballroom, Hilton Baltimore. More information about ESA awards is available here.  

 

Eminent Ecologist Award: Eric Pianka
The Eminent Ecologist Award is given to a senior ecologist in recognition of an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.  During his 50-year academic career, Pianka, a professor at the University of Texas since 1968, published nearly 200 scientific papers, several of which became “Citation Classics.” His textbook “Evolutionary Ecology,” first published in 1974, went through six editions and has been translated into multiple languages.  Pianka’s key and durable contributions to empirical ecology encompass wide‐ranging studies of lizard community ecology across many continents and the  discovery of many new lizard species. In 2004, Pianka was chosen as the Herpetologists League’s “Distinguished Herpetologist” and in 2006 the Texas Academy of Science named him “Distinguished Scientist.” All of his conceptual contributions are grounded in a thorough understanding of natural history with a deep love of the natural world. His work has influenced many individuals, both inside the ecological profession and beyond.

Eugene P. Odum Education Award:  Nathaniel Wheelwright
The Eugene P. Odum Award recipients have demonstrated their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities. ESA honors Wheelwright of Bowdoin College, whose 29 years of exemplary teaching has influenced over 49 students to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology or related fields. He has co-authored peer-reviewed papers with more than 25 undergraduate students. Beyond his responsibilities at Bowdoin, Wheelwright has served as a visiting faculty resource person for over 20 Organization of Tropical Studies courses, mentoring hundreds of graduate students from dozens of universities. While on a Fulbright grant at the University of Botswana, Wheelwright taught more than 400 students and established the University’s first natural history club. 

Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology Award: Mary McKenna
This ESA award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching, or outreach. ESA honors McKenna, a professor at Howard University, for her leadership in developing diversity-enhancing programs within the Society and working to improve minority access to all Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. In her 29 years at Howard University, McKenna’s greatest contribution to promoting the diversity of future ecologists has been her ability to develop structured, engaging and meaningful undergraduate research mentoring programs for aspiring minority students.

ESA Distinguished Service Citation: Alan Covich
The Distinguished Service Citation is given to recognize long and distinguished volunteer service to ESA, the larger scientific community, and the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare. Covich, a professor at the University of Georgia, has contributed over 40-years of service to ESA in many roles and was elected as ESA President in 2008. His work to advance the science of ecology and foster international cooperation and communication through other service activities includes his leadership roles as Past-president of North American Benthological Society, American Institute of Biological Science, and INTECOL.

Whittaker Distinguished Ecologist Award: Inderjit
This ESA award recognizes an ecologist outside of the United States who has earned a doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology. Inderjit is Director of the Centre for the Study of Degraded Ecosystems at the University of Delhi, where he is also a professor. Noteworthy is his outstanding and meticulous experimental work into the mechanisms responsible for plant invasions. These insights have been presented in over 20 invited-plenary lectures worldwide. He has penned eight books on plant ecology and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles.

Honorary Membership Award: Stuart Bunn
This ESA award is given to a distinguished ecologist who has made exceptional contributions to ecology and whose principal residence and site of ecological research are outside of North America. Bunn is Director of the Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, and is one of Australia’s leading freshwater scientists, earning national and international recognition for his outstanding contributions in water science and management. His research has resulted in over 250 technical publications, of which more than half are peer-reviewed journal papers receiving 900 citations per year. Bunn also serves in formal advisory roles with international and Australian government agencies on water resource management and policy. In 2007, Professor Bunn was awarded the Australian Society for Limnology Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to research and management of Australia’s inland waters.

W.S. Cooper Award: Carissa D. Brown and Mark Vellend
The Cooper Award honors an outstanding contribution to the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. ESA recognizes Brown of theMemorial University of Newfoundland and Vellend of the University of Sherbrooke for their paper “Non-climatic constraints on upper elevational plant range expansion under climate change,” published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The study focuses on interactions between soil, climate, and biotc factors on plant performance and distributions.

George Mercer Award: Marcelo Ardón, Jennifer L. Morse, Ben P. Colman, and Emily S. Bernhardt
The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by young scientists. Ardón (East Carolina University), Morse (Portland State University), Colman (Duke University), and Bernhardt (Duke University) co-authored “Drought-induced saltwater incursion leads to increased wetland nitrogen export,” published in Global Change Biology. In the tradition of landscape-scale ecosystem ecology, their study finds that saltwater intrusion has the potential to liberate vast stores of legacy nitrogen from past agricultural fertilizer use, leading to ecosystem degradation and coastal eutrophication on a massive scale.

Murray F. Buell Award: Nina Lany
This ESA award is given for excellence in ecology to a student for the outstanding oral paper presented at the ESA Annual Meeting. Lany, now a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University, presented “Top-down vs. bottom-up is a function of temperature for forest Lepidoptera,” at the Society’s Annual Meeting in Sacramento, CA in 2014, while completing her doctorate at Dartmouth College. The study measured the daily survival rate of caterpillars finding that negative indirect effects on caterpillars propagated through predators and food quality can outweigh the benefits of faster development time at higher temperatures.


To learn more about the August 9–14, 2015 ESA Annual Meeting see:  http://esa.org/baltimore/

ESA welcomes attendance from members of the press and waives registration fees for reporters and institutional public information officers. Information about our policy on press credentials and press room support is available on the Centennial Meeting website. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org.

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The Ecological Society of America (ESA), 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 10,000 member Society publishes six 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 http://www.esa.org.