Meet the Fellows

Fellows Sponsored by the Generous Contributions of ESA Members and the National Science Foundation

 

Anna Ortega
Fort Lewis College

Mentor: Dr. David Inouye, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

Project Tittle: Assessing nectar production of Delphinium nutallianum, Aquilegia coerulea, and Delphinium barbeyi in response to variations in moisture availability.

Anna is currently a junior at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Her major is Environmental and Organismic Biology, and she is also earning a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) certificate. She was born and raised in Durango, Colorado – a small southwestern town, adjacent to the desert country and high alpine mountains. Growing up, she had the opportunities of exploring the desert and mountains with her family and friends. In her words, “It was from my experiences in the wild that I became passionate about the environment and the natural world.”

Anna is interested in ecological research and conservation biology. She has studied birds and plant-pollinator interactions thus far in her undergraduate career, and she plans to allow her remaining undergraduate experiences refine and shape her academic interests. She loves being outside! She has also told us “I mountain bike, alpine ski, rock-climb, and backpack. I spend a portion of my summers hiking in the alpine tundra and climbing mountains – I have now climbed 36 Colorado 14ers and many other mountains. One of my many beliefs in life is to cherish every moment with the people you love and the activities you love doing. I think it is also important to keep your hearts and mind open to others and to love adventure.”

Dianne Quiroz
University of California Berkley

Mentor: Dr. Scott Mills, University of Montana

Project Tittle:Effects of Hind-foot Length on Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus) Survival.

Dianne grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Berkeley, CA. Even though she has pretty much lived in a city setting her entire life, she has always been attracted to wildlife and the outdoors. She is currently a junior at UC Berkley studying molecular environmental biology with a concentration on animal health and behavior. She is highly interested in population dynamics of vertebrate species as well as behavioral ecology. She wants to go to graduate school and focus her research on wildlife distributions and conservation of endangered species.During the course of her fellowship she hopes to study polar ecology specifically she wants to look at large mammal distributions and how they affected by climate change.

Yashira Cruz
University of Puerto Rico

Mentor: Dr. Raymond Carthy, University of Florida

Project Tittle: Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata) Density, Distribution & Activity Activity Patterns in Eroding and Non-Eroding Areas of Cape San Blas, Florida.

Yashira is a 19 year old Puerto Rican who was born and raised at the Eastern shore of the island. Her alma mater is the University of Puerto Rico, Humacoa Campus, where she is a sophomore studying Coastal Marine Biology. Her professional interests include education and outreach activities as well as research on marine ecology with a behavioral, community, populations, and conservation approach. She visualizes herself graduating from bachelors degree and moving on to a graduate program where she can continue gaining experience and knowledge and finally getting a PhD on marine ecology

 

 

Cohorts Funded by the National Science Foundation

 

Carlos Zayas Santiago
University of Puerto Rico
Mentor: Dr. William Gilly,
Stanford University
I am a Coastal Marine Biology major at University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, as part of my undergraduate career I have been able to travel and experience research in ecology. As a member of SEEDS I have participated in travel awards and chapter activities, some of my interests include: Ecology, Kayaking, Swimming, Hiking, any outdoor activity and agriculture.

Dayani Pieri
Northeastern University
Mentor: Dr. R. Michael Miller, Argonne National Laboratory

Nature captured my heart at a young age. I grew up playing with soil, climbing trees and running through rice paddy fields in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. The mountains around me brought me serenity and the rock collections fascinated me. In my adult life, SEEDS opened new doors for me and reunited me with nature. SEEDS granted me many amazing experiences that I never dreamed of ever realizing. Today, as I educate young children surrounded by concrete, I sigh in griefL. My goal is to unite them also with nature. Currently, I am passionate about research. My research experiences have included; invasive plant species, soil ecology and microbial fungi. I am currently conducting research funded by SEEDS at the Argonne National Laboratory; examining the relationship between bio fuel feedstock productivity and arbuscular micorrhizal fungi.
Tiffany Carey
University of Michigan
Mentor: Dr. Kristina Stinson, Harvard University

As a resident and environmental steward in an underprivileged city, Detroit, Michigan, I continuously face environmental dilemmas that surround my community. I have witnessed and experienced the affects of illegal dumping, pollution, industrial facilities and other non-environmentally friendly acts.  My specialization during my undergraduate career has been Environmental Policy/Law and Envrionmental Justice. With this degree and focus I plan to pursue a JD in Envrionmental Law or continue my studies to obtain a PhD in Aerobiology/Epideomology. The main driver for my interest in aerobiology sprouted from my four year research focusing on Pollen and Public Health in the urban context, specifically Detroit Michigan. As I continue to develop my skills and expand my interests, I remain steadfast in believing that my current concerns and enthusiasm about ecology will one day leverage change in not just Detroit, but communities all over. I’ve been able to accomplish many of my dreams and goals during my college years, and I’m honored and blessed to make a positive impact on UM’s Campus, Detroit and nationwide.

Vincent Waquiu
New Mexico State University
Mentor: Dr. David Orwig, Harvard University
Vincent majors in Wildlife Science at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces , New Mexico.  Vincent is degree neutral, his interests include Geospatial Information Technologies, Range Management, Ecology, Forestry, and Geology. He plans to work with his tribe either at Laguna or Jemez Pueblo when he accomplishes his degree. For his fellowship research Vincent will travel to Harvard Forest in Massachusetts to study the effects of invasive insects on eastern hemlock a native coniferous tree to eastern North America.

 

Cohorts Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Mattias Lanas
Stanford University
Mentor: Lee Dyer

Elizabeth Quimba
Oregon State University
Mentor: Fred Janzen

Iman Sylvain

Howard University
Mentor: Sieglinde Snapp

 

Cohorts Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 

 

Adriana Leiva
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
Mentor: Lisa Ballance

My name is Adriana Leiva. I was born in Austin, Texas, but raised in Mexico. I am a Biology major, focusing on marine systems at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. Currently, I am working on a morphological study of Sulu Gobies (Acentrogobius suluensis) in the South Pacific. I will be working in the upper Gulf of California for my SEEDS research. The vaquita (Phocoena sinus),one of six true porpoises (Phocoenidae) that can still be found around the world, are an endemic to the upper Gulf of California and have the most restricted distribution of any marine mammal. They are vulnerable to extinction due to their rarity (the most recent population estimate was 567 individuals, Jaramillo-Legorreta et al., 1999)and restricted distribution. Biologists working on the conservation efforts of the vaquita have suggested establishing a protected zone for the long-term conservation efforts of the vaquita and/or a buyout of the fishery. Although many individuals from many institutions and countries have been involved in activities to nominally address the problem, little to no progress has been made with respect to implementing solutions. The focus of my project will be to investigate the reasons for the “implementation gap”. We will collect data through interviews of persons involved in any capacity with vaquita using standardized questions. Analysis of answers will provide a means to identify the gaps in conservation efforts.

 

Ana Elisa Perez Quintero
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
Mentor: Helda Morales
There in the middle of the Huitepec “arvenses” grow, good weed that helps other species grow. They don’t discriminate, even though they are so useful and appreciated, they keep their humbleness. I will study the management of “arvences” in three organic farms in the highlands of San Cristobal, Chiapas. I will always refer to “arvences’” by their Spanish name, Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Scientific names so that anyone will understand what plant it is. We will also be studying the awareness farmers and children in five rural schools have towards these weeds and why they are so important in agriculture. I am Ana Elisa and I have lived all my life in the heart of the city in Río Piedras, where I currently study Environmental Community Health at the University of Puerto Rico. Even though my life has been spent in an urban context, my family is from Morovis and has always found time to explore our island (it’s pretty easy to see it all since it’s really small). Sometimes when we didn’t have the time to travel, I continued those trips by painting, writing, or reading about the same things I found so exhilarating in science and nature. Right now my priority is to do research in ecology, so that I can acquire knowledge of different techniques that can be applied or modified for a healthier Puerto Rico.
Brittany Miles
Johnson C. Smith University
Mentor: Sandra Clinton and Amy Ringwood
I am Brittany Miles from Decatur, GA and I am a junior at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. I chose to major in Biology because science is such a major part of every day life. I find it amazing that life itself, fromthe smallest plant seed to the largest organism in the world, are all part of one big cycle. I never imagined that my academic career would lead me to the field of ecology, but Dr. Fail brought it out of me. His passion for the environment, for life, and for knowledge has inspired me. He challenges me every day to be a part of a solution. My hopes and dreams at the end of my educational career are to be armed with the knowledge and ability to make a difference, and to help the environment and people to live pure, safe, and meaningful lives. She will be working with two mentors for her fellowship, Dr. Amy Ringwood and Dr. Sandra Clinton, both of the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Brittany will be studying microbial dniversity in streams. She will be looking at their genetic make-up (some bacteria swap genetic material in order to survive), how many different species are in a sample, and any environmental factors that may have an impact on their diversity.
Colleen Cooley
Northern Arizona University
Mentors: Larry Stevens and Emily Omana
Hello. My name is Colleen Cooley and I am currently attending Northern Arizona University (NAU) as a junior studying environmental sciences with an emphasis in management. I was born and raised on the Navajo Nation, specifically from a small rural community called Shonto, Arizona. My family and I grew up with no running water and electricity and we continue to live the same lifestyle ever since my parents moved to this beautiful place I call home. Therefore, my lifestyle revolved around animals and the environment and being creative with what we had around my home. From the time I began to understand the issues within the environment surrounding the Navajo tribe, I knew I wanted to return to the Reservation and help them in any way I can, which led me into the environmental sciences field. As I grew older, I learned more and more about the many issues surrounding our environment. I believe my older sister was another reason I chose to go into the environmental field because she knew a lot about the environment and the importance of recycling. I would love to learn more about the policy aspect of managing the environment, especially with the issues the Native American tribes are facing with their lands. In addition, I’m interested in learning more about conservation with water on Native lands because I come from a reservation where water is sacred and precious to my people and strip mining has taken most of our water just to provide electricity for people in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada. I would like to share my knowledge about policy and management on Native lands with the Native American tribes who don’t understand why these environmental issues on their lands are continuing to affect them and why not much is being done about it.
Sarah Renteria
University of Texas at El Paso
Mentor: Jeremy Jones and Amanda Rinehart
Hello, my name is Sarah Renteria and I will be conducting my fellowship research in the Caribou Creek Watershed outside of Fairbanks, Alaska! My mentors are Jay Jones and Amanda Rinehart who study the effect of permafrost on watershed hydrology and nutrient fluxes. This summer I will be asking how phosphorus uptake varies in streams with different extents of permafrost. I’m currently at the University of Texas at El Paso and grew up in the Chihuahuan Desert. Not until I started studying ecology did I appreciate the uniqueness of the desert and really fell in love with the magic of nature. The SEEDS trip to Chiapas Mexico was my huge eye opener where I discovered my passion for ecology and people. In the future I hope to work with everyday day people with different cultural backgrounds and form the important link between science and education. Reaching out and making science, especially ecology, comprehensible to people outside the scientific community is vital in changing people’s perspective on how they live their lives and their viewpoint of nature.
Serge Farinas
Clayton State University
Mentor: Beth Middleton
My name is Serge Farinas and I’m a Biology major at Clayton State University. I was first exposed to ecology through my advisor, Dr. Boudell, who has really helped me to focus my interests. I always knew that I wanted to do something that was applicable to the environmental issues we are currently dealing with, and so far I am feeling very satisfied with the direction ecology is taking me. I have done work in forest ecosystems and feel very much at home there. Right now, I am enjoying the beginning stages of research. I feel very honored to have been given this privilege. I hope that my research will show my appreciation, as I endeavor to do something that will benefit our community.
He will be doing his fellowship research with Dr. Beth Middleton of the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. The focus of his study will be on wetland ecology and climate change.

 

Cohorts Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

 

Annette Cardona
Texas A&M University
Mentors: Rick Tinnin and John Williams

Hi! My name is Annette Cardona. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. I am currently attending Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. I am in my fourth year and majoring in ecology. I was first drawn to marine biology when my sister made me go with her and her kids to SeaWorld. I saw the famous Shamu show and became hooked. The next year I attended the SeaWorld summer camp and took an aquatic science class. When I got to college all I wanted was to work at SeaWorld or an aquarium with the animals, but I started volunteering in a fisheries ecology lab on campus and took a general ecology class and my interest began to change. Understanding how the systems, marine life, and human impact work together was very intriguing. For about the past two years, I have been becoming increasingly interested in outreach and education, and conservation; not just of the marine mammals, but of the whole ocean, down to our estuaries. I would love to be a part of creating curricula or programs for aquaria, federal programs, college outreach programs, and other related places. With outreach I can help save and preserve the ocean systems and also inspire future scientists and educators.

 

Jarrod Blue
Davidson College
Mentor: Scott Collins My name is Jarrod Blue and I am a junior at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. I’m a Biology major with a focused interest in ecology. I have always had an interest in environmental issues, but the ecology class that I took first semester sophomore year changed everything for me. I entered the class with pre-med floating in my mind as a possible career choice, but as a result of the labs and papers that we read, I quickly veered off the pre-med track and turned full speed ahead into ecology. Currently I have an interest in community ecology, and specifically with the concepts of competition, dispersal patterns, and metacommunities. Since January 2006, I have been researching the colonization and dispersal patterns of invertebrates, specifically mosquitoes, within a metacommunity framework. I am very grateful to ESA for receiving the SEEDS fellowship and I look forward to working and meeting all of you during this fellowship period and beyond!
Sheena Hillstrom
Washington State University
Mentor: Charles HalpernMy name is Sheena Hillstrom. Originally from Shelton, Washington, I am an environmental science and regional planning major at Washington State University. Having grown up with the forests of the Pacific Northwest as my playground, I have a passionate interest in forest ecology as well as in the human impact on forests from our urban environments. My interest in ecology came about last spring in my Environment and Human Life class in which we studied the relationship between humans and the environment. This summer I had the opportunity to have some “hands-on” experience working in restoration plots in Costa Rica with the Organization for Tropical Studies’ Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience where I researched the role of decaying log microsites in a natural restoration situation. In the broader context, I found that there are ways that humans can aid in the restoration process of our natural resources. Working with other indigenous students and meeting the indigenous people of Costa Rica I had the opportunity to hear their concerns about their lands, opening my eyes to issues that need to be addressed. I look forward to meeting and working with you all!

 

Cohorts Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

 

Chris McLaughlin
Sitting Bull College
Mentor
Tony Joern 
Chris’s article in the February 2007 Newsletter
Chris was also the All Nations AMP’s featured student

I am an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes otherwise known as the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. I am also a paternal child of the Hunkpapa Band of Lakota Sioux and long time descendant of McLaughlin’s from Ireland.
I am currently a junior at Sitting Bull College (Fort Yates, ND) in the Environmental Science program through Oglala Lakota College. I first became interested in science at an early age, but it wasn’t until I attended Fort Berthold Community College (FBCC) that the interest was solidified. I graduated from FBCC with an AS degree in Environmental Science. It was there where I was first introduced to SEEDS, and it was FBCC and SEEDS that helped me find the motivation to continue my education in the world of science. Some of my specific interests have been the plants and animals that have traditionally sustained the people of the Great Plains; such as the juneberry, Amelanchier alnifolia, and the American bison, Bison bison.
I am sure that SEEDS has been a positive experience not only for myself, but for other students as well. SEEDS has done this by providing insight to the realm of ecology to those who may not ordinarily have the opportunity to check out such things. This has been accomplished by student awards to field trips, meetings, and the Fellowship. These awards make it possible to see and experience first hand the possibilities in ecology, and formulate ones own thoughts for the direction of their personal future. SEEDS provides an unexplainable, yet definite passion and drive in those who experience it.
My Fellowship research has done this job well, by allowing me to work with the bison that were once, and still are sacred to the Plains Indians. My fellowship research project was conducted at the Konza Prairie long term ecological research site with the help of my mentor Tony Joern of Kansas State University. My fellowship research made it possible for me to actually see how important the bison (and fire) is to the prairie ecosystem in the past, present, and future. This research has made it possible to see the many interactions that happen in an ecosystem, from the insects to the large animal life and what critical roles they play in the environment.
My only advice to those in looking at a career in ecology would be: “If you like it, do what you gotta do to get there

Colibri Sanfiorenzo
University of Puerto Rico
Mentor: Luis Garcia Barrios
Colibri’s article in the October 2006 Newsletter
Hi! My name is Colibrí. There have been two main influential people in my life in relation to my love of science and my interest in ecology: My mom (dedicated educational chemistry researcher) and Dr. Elvia Melendez Ackerman (my current advisor at my University). My mom showed me the incredible and wonderful world of science and how it can explain most of the things in this world. That is partly why I started out in college as a physics student, to try and learn how the universe and all of its components work. But, there was something missing from the experience. In the fall semester of 2003 I embarked on an exchange program to Sweden. This is where I took my first Biology course which was Landscape Ecology. This course blew my mind in both theoretical and practical hands-on experience. That was three years ago and since then ecology has been a big part of my life. When I got back from Sweden, Elvia gave me a chance (without any biology courses at that point) to be a part of the Tropical Plant Ecology and Evolution Laboratory. Working in the lab has not only given me field and lab experience, but it has put me in contact with graduate students. I have been able to see what it takes to go to graduate school. Elvia not only gave me a job as a research assistant, but she also has encouraged me to apply for courses, internships, and conferences that are part of my research interest. I participated in the fall 2004 Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) semester abroad program of Duke University in Costa Rica, an amazing experience that really put me (and anyone) to the test of either loving ecology or hating it….I LOVED IT!!! Knowing that I love to travel, Elvia mentioned one day that ESA had field trips that were a week long and a good field experience for undergraduate students. This is how I first learned of the SEEDS Program. I started looking through the website and found so many amazing things I could participate in that my excitement turned into action and soon I was applying for the SEEDS fellowship program, and to my delight got accepted!!! My first encounter with other SEEDS students and organizers was in Arizona in March 2005. That week was incredible!!!! Everyone was so energetic and overwhelmed with happiness that it kind of just stuck on you like glue. After that week I have come to realize that the SEEDS program not only helps you to achieve great science and your academic goals, but it also helps you realize that your thoughts and ideas on humanity and the environment aren’t that far-fetched and that there are other students out there that feel the way you do. This past summer I started my fellowship research with Dr. Luis Garcia Barrios from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Chiapas, Mexico. Working with Luis has been a real treat. He has showed me the importance of understanding and working within social aspects in the field of ecology. I am participating in the first stages of a new project that is trying to promote conservation and better management techniques in communities that live in the buffer zone of “La Sepultura” Biosphere Reserve in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas. During the months of June and July I collected data on the types of vegetation surrounding the community to give a general overview of the landscape and the relationship with the cattle production systems they generally use. This summer Luis helped me organize not only my interest in ecology, but my attitude towards life in general. I got to Mexico feeling overwhelmed and depressed with life and left Chiapas energetic, happy, and excitedly overwhelmed with what life might bring me next. The experience that I had this summer really blew me away. I had never been in charge of my own project, having to make all the decisions (with LOTS of valuable help from Luis) about funding, field work, data analysis, group organization, and time schedule. I got a taste of what it will be like to do my graduate research and I can’t wait!!!!
  Ku’ulei Vickery
University of Hawai’i at Manoa 
Mentor: Mike Heithaus
Ku’ulei’s article in the December 2006 NewsletterAloha, I’m Ku`ulei and a senior at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, majoring in environmental studies with an emphasis in marine ecology. I am a waterwoman. I’ve played, worked, and lived on the ocean. As an ocean enthusiast, I’m a long-distance sailor, surfer, swimmer, open-water diver, oceanographer, and budding ecologist. My love for the ocean has blossomed into a lifestyle and worthwhile academic endeavor. I’m interested in endangered marine species, indigenous knowledge, endemic Hawaiian marine animals, island ecosystems, and migratory routes of sea turtles. Being a native Hawaiian, I have struggled for years to coexist in a dual relationship of western science and Hawaiian culture. Throughout this journey I’ve continued to follow the path of my ancestors, and in turn, pave the way for the future. Through SEEDS, I have the opportunity to live in Shark Bay, Western Australia for 6 months and study the food web ecology of stingrays. I’m very excited and thankful for this awesome chance to conduct my own research. I’ve also participated in two field trips and an ESA Annual Meeting. Thanks to SEEDS, I view the world through the eyes of an ecologist.
My advice to other students is to figure out what is important to you, personalize it, and run with it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, especially if it’s yourself.
A’ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho’okahi. One can learn from many sources.
– Mary Kawena Pukui 1983 Olelo No’eau, Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings

  Marla Striped Face – Collins
United Tribes Technical College Mentor: Carol Johnston
Marla’s article in the November 2006 Newsletter

Marla Striped Face-Collins is a full-time sophomore/junior tribal college student pursuing dual degrees in Business Administration and Interdisciplinary Environmental Science. Marla graduated with her AAS degree in Tribal Environmental Science on May 5, 2006. She is presently attending Sitting Bull College located in Fort Yates, North Dakota, 60 miles south of Bismarck, North Dakota where she lives. She is pursuing her bachelors in both majors.
Mrs. Collins was introduced to SEEDS when she found the website through the American Indian Science and Engineering Society scholarships and opportunities website. She was very instrumental in developing the SEEDS Chapter at United Tribes Technical College and has been the Student Representative since the Chapter started in the Spring of 2005, and is a campus Green Committee participant. Marla recently received a SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship for 2006/2007.

Marla believes the Lakota people are part of the complex interrelationships that exist among plants, animals, ecological systems, soil, water, and climate, and that historically there were large numbers of bison, elk, antelope, and beaver, certain types of plants, and water. She also believes the devastating decline in these indigenous animals and an increase in invasive species has had an adverse effect on the water and climate of the prairie. Marla wants to study the environmental issues, air quality, and climate change of the prairie in hopes of merging modern western science with traditional indigenous ecological knowledge while learning how to manage water and to do ecological forecasting. Marla knows this seems like a lot to study and research, but as a Lakota person, she believes that everything is in some way or another related, and that what affects one thing also affects something else or many things down the line.
Mrs. Collins receives support from her husband while pursuing her science and business courses. She received inspiration for her research project from Alice Outwater’s book The History of Water.
Marla is an enrolled Standing Rock tribal member and upon graduating with a doctorate in Environmental Science will return to her tribe with the skills and knowledge she has attained to give back to the Standing Rock community. Her advice for students of all ages, races, and ethnicities who like being outdoors is to have enthusiasm for discovering nature; to help people become more aware of their environment; and to pursue their education in environmental science with passion. From this they will gain the experience to know that they can do anything they want to do and go anywhere they want to go.

 

Cohorts Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Andrea Rivera
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Mentor: Hunter Lenihan

Growing up in Honduras exposed me to the fascinating world of nature and my father, who was a geologist at that time, introduced me to the field of science. National Geographic Magazines, maps, and having the rainforest as my backyard helped me develop a true interest in tropical ecosystems. At the age of thirteen, my life transformed when I moved to New Jersey with my family making me realize how negatively humans are impacting our Earth.After high school, I decided to go the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) to pursue a B.S. degree in Marine Biology, and discovered a passion to study coral reefs. During my first year, I realized that I was interested in a more expansive major that would offer more of a global perspective, targeting environmental problems. Feeling accomplished at UVI, I was ambitious to develop my education at a larger college and transferred to the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. I am currently a senior student and will graduate this spring. My major is Environmental Studies, with a Marine Option Program certificate titled “Lobster Research Management.”
This past summer, I was fortunate to be awarded with the ESA SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and have had the opportunity to travel to the ESA Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada and the ESA International Conference in Merida, Mexico. I learned a great deal about current ecological research and expanded networks with ecologists and related professionals. The scientific conference gave me an idea for the next ESA Annual Meeting in Memphis, Tennessee where I will be presenting my fellowship research findings. The fellowship program is a great experience that is enabling me to do an individualized research project for a year. My mentor is Hunter Lenihan from the University of California at Santa Barbara and I’ll be working in the Moorea Coral Reef Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site in French Polynesia. I always wanted to do coral and algal research and SEEDS is making my dream come true. I enjoy the ocean, and I am in the process of becoming a scientific diver. As a result of the SEEDS program, I can do my fieldwork in the ocean and expand my understanding of coral and algae interactions. In addition, a SEEDS field trip to the Sevilleta LTER Project exposed me to dessert ecosystems for the first time.
SEEDS also helped sponsor the first University of Hawai’i at Manoa Ecology Chapter (UHMEC). As the President of the club, my involvement with outreach activities, grant applications and ecological activities has increased. The best advice I could personally give a student it to stay positive in college, because it can be very stressful at times, and to try to stay active with extracurricular activities. This will open many doors and help keep you focused. Also, once you find a program you like, don’t be afraid to apply, just get it done and perhaps you’ll experience something amazing.
In the future, I am planning to pursue a Masters degree and hopefully a Doctoral degree in Marine Environmental Science to help create a non-profit organization in Honduras. My ultimate goal is to develop applied ecological projects involving communities and help create marine protected areas in the Bay Islands of Honduras.
Muchas Gracias SEEDS for all your support, funding, advice and for making my dreams of becoming a marine ecologist true!

Christina Wong
Occidental College
Mentor: Nancy Grimm
Abstract: Desert crusts in an urban landscape: responses of N2 fixation to anthropogenic C and N deposition.

I am a senior Biology major at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California and am interested in the fields of urban ecology, biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology. My love for science and the environment began in my junior year of high school as a member of the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) San Francisco Urban Youth Corps Program. For two years, I participated in bi-weekly workshops that addressed local environmental issues and in community restoration projects of city parks, Toyiabe National Forest, California and Denali National Park, Alaska. SCA educated and exposed inner-city youth from underrepresented communities to the importance of nature and conservation.
My journey as an ecological researcher began in the summer of 2004 with Dr. Rebecca Ostertag, University of Hawaii at Hilo, and Dr. Susan Cordell, USDA-Hawaii, on a NSF-REU project that assessed the impacts of invasive plants on Hawaiian lowland wet forests. In the spring of 2005, I studied abroad in Costa Rica where I explored sustainable agriculture by comparing avian diversity of local sun and shade coffee plantations. This past summer, I participated in the Institute of Ecosystem Studies (IES) NSF-REU program with Dr. Katalin Szlavecz, John Hopkins University, and Dr. Richard Pouyat, USDA- Baltimore, at the Baltimore Ecosystem Studies. I evaluated the impact of urbanization and heavy metals on soil communities throughout the Washington D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan areas. As a 2005-06 SEEDS fellow, I am working with Dr. Nancy Grimm, Arizona State University and current ESA President, and Dr. Ryan Sponseller, Arizona State University, at the central-Arizona Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site. My project is investigating the effects of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition on N2-fixation rates of biological soil crust in rapidly urbanizing central-Arizona. Excitingly, this is my first exposure to biogeochemistry and desert ecosystems. The fellowship is a phenomenal opportunity since it combines all of my ecological interests, thus permitting me to create a project I feel is intriguing, challenging and fun. Ultimately, as an ecologist, I hope to change the common “urban perception,” that divides cities from nature, by working to restore, expose and understand urban ecosystems. In the future I see myself as an international researcher, urban planner, and policy maker who will assist in the development and design of sustainable and equitable cities.
I was introduced to the SEEDS program by Sharon Ziegler-Chong, Director of the Hawaii NSF-REU program. In November of 2005 I attended the SEEDS fieldtrip to the USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. The fieldtrip allowed me to ride through swamps, critically examine marshes, interact with ecological researchers, and question, contemplate and discuss the threats confronting Louisiana’s wetlands. SEEDS has inspired me to pursue a career as an ecological researcher by providing me with a community of students and scientists who are passionate about ecology and diversifying the ecology profession. I share the knowledge and wisdom I have gained from my SEEDS experience with other students as co-founder of the Scientific Scholars Achievement Program (SSAP) at Occidental College. SSAP helps underrepresented students from under-funded public high schools successfully pursue their scientific passions. We offer student mentoring and tutoring sessions and strongly support community activities. In the future, we hope that our students will become science ambassadors by volunteering in inner-city public schools and minority communities. Recently, we received the Occidental Urban and Environmental Policy Institute Community Action award.
The best advice I can give fellow students is to: investigate and utilize all available resources, get involved in research projects, seek academic and professional advice from professors and other students, study abroad, and choose a subject and field that you truly love.

Jorge Ramos
University of Texas at El Paso
Mentor: Myra Shulman
Abstract: Population sizes, site usage, and behavior of harbor and gray seals in the Isles of Shoals, Gulf of Maine.

Since I was a child, I have always been interested in science. Being born in the US and raised in Mexico has given me the opportunity to view things with a different perspective. My dad, a dentist, always wanted to be a naturalist. Unfortunately, my dad had to follow my grandfather’s career as a dentist. I feel like my dad’s passion for the environment was passed on to me during my childhood. The things that I am pursuing now, for example a SCUBA diving certification, he did back in 1978.
I knew I wanted to study the environment; I just was not sure what part of it. I am still in the part of discovering my passion. I want to focus on one piece of this puzzle called planet Earth. I started college at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). I am majoring in Environmental Sciences with a Biological Sciences concentration. My first summer was not at all interesting. I had no idea about internships, fellowships, REU’s, conferences, summer jobs, etc. I was unaware of what was out there for undergraduate students. I ended up signing up for summer courses.
Before summer of 2004, encouraged by my professor Dr. Larry Jones and my advisor Cindy Edgar, I applied to an REU at the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. I was selected and worked under great soil ecologists, Dr. Dick Richardson and his wife Dr. Patricia Richardson. I completed a research project that compared the differences in arthropod diversity in different environments.
After this experience, I felt like it was the end of my mentality of a student with the goal of just graduating. It was the beginning of a new goal, graduating with an exceptional resume. I wanted to graduate knowing great contacts, having field experience, an excellent academic record, and, of course, extensive research experience.
I discovered SEEDS the summer of 2004. I was selected to go to the ESA meeting in Portland, Oergon. After that meeting, I realized that SEEDS offered more than just travel scholarships for the meeting. I also participated in two SEEDS field trips: National Wetlands Resource Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, and the La Sevilleta LTER in New Mexico. Many students from UTEP were also very active with SEEDS so we decided to start a Campus Ecology Chapter at our university.
During the summer of 2005 I worked with the US and Fish and Wildlife Service on the Abnormal Amphibian Project at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR). It was a great outdoors research experience where I gained new skills and strengthened others. I kept in touch with Mari Reeves, the PI of the project, and we are currently working with the PRESENCE software to model the proportion of area occupied by these amphibians in the KNWR. Later that summer I went to the ESA-INTECOL meeting in Montreal, Canada. At the meeting I received the ESA SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship. I then flew to Barrow, Alaska, where I met with Dr. Craig Tweedie and his crew, who are part of BASC (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium). In Barrow, Alaska, 340 miles above the Arctic Circle, I helped different US and international scientists in their research projects: coastal erosion, hydrology, ornithology, biogeochemistry, small mammals, botany, etc.
Having received the SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a very prestigious research opportunity, I decided to work on something that I have always wanted to experience: marine mammals. I decided to work with seals in the Gulf of Maine. My mentors for the fellowship are Dr. Myra Shulman from Cornell University, and Greg Early from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. This research will examine two species of pinnipeds, gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), that use the Isles of Shoals as haul-out spaces. Currently there is very little knowledge to understand both of the seals at the Isles of Shoals. In order to get this baseline, we will conduct population censuses, monitor behavioral interactions, analyze male vocalization using bioacoustical analysis techniques, and their responses to human disturbances. This research will result in an extensive knowledge to understand the current behavior of pinnipeds and their potential responses to the changing environment in the Isles of Shoals.
I would like to give thanks to friends at SEEDS, Melissa, Katherine, Jason, and Jeramie. Thank you for believing in me, for all of your support over these years. I know that without SEEDS, I couldn’t be where I am right now. It’s SEEDS that has made me mature and discover my potential.
My goal for next year… graduate school!

Noemi Baquera
University of Texas at El Paso
Mentor: Jeff Herrick
Abstract: Determining vegetation coverage and changes in land use under the Quesungual slash and mulch agroforestry system.

My name is Noemi Baquera. I am from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where I am majoring in Environmental Science. Even as a child I was interested in ecology, but back then it was known to me as playing in the dirt, not as a multifaceted and intricate concept. However, the versatility and freedom in ecology is what attracted me to this field, making it the focus of my education. My main interest in ecology is in the restoration of damaged ecosystems, where I can develop methods to monitor and return ecosystems to their natural state.
I was introduced to the SEEDS program by my advisor, Cindy Edgar, who has always encouraged me and thanks to her I was able to take advantage of this great opportunity. My first SEEDS experience was a field trip to the University of Calgary’s Kananaskis Field Station in Calgary, Canada in June 2004. This field trip was an absolutely amazing and important experience for me. I was exposed to so many aspects of ecology that I had not yet explored. It was at this field trip that I heard of the SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship, where I would be allowed the opportunity to pursue and create a research project of my own. I knew that this was the next step in accomplishing my future goals in research, and, upon notification of my selection, I was overcome with joy and felt that I was truly on my way. My research for this fellowship revolves around the Quensungual Slash and Mulch Agroforestry System. This modified technique increases the water retention capabilities of the soil which ultimately decreases the amount of land depleted by agriculture, helping to conserve natural ecosystems.
Through this fellowship I was given the opportunity to attend the 90th ESA Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada. I was able to see important research and converse with prestigious scientists from all over the world. I was able to gather information about graduate school and learn about the different opportunities available to minority students. Through these experiences I have seen and done so much, and I encourage other students to take advantage of this program because it is so exceedingly dedicated to the students.

 

Cohorts Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Bruce Machona
Wiley College
Mentor: Gary Lovett

Abstract: Effect of nitrogen addition on fine roots in an oak forest.

Since the tender age of my life I enjoyed going out and watching the water flowing in the river and mountain hiking and studying most of the living organisms around me in Zimbabwe. I should say I became interested in Ecology when I was a child. My mother was an ecologist not by training but naturally, and she was the most influential person in igniting my interest in ecology. Unfortunately, when I went to high school, I did not take an Ecology or science course. The school system selected courses for you. So when I went to college for the first time I did my studies in Accounting. But this was not my passion, fortunately enough when I came to America I had to take many classes in Biology, which played a major role in shaping my future. The challenges that I faced included the jargon and terminology used in the sciences because I did not have a strong background in science. However, if you have the passion for something, learning will be easy. I had the determination to learn, and with good professors, I succeeded. Field trips sponsored by ESA/SEEDS helped me a lot in motivating me and it helped me improve my understanding of what is Ecology.
Thanks to ESA.

Julie James
Haskell Indian Nations University
Mentor: Alan Knapp

Abstract: Phenology and allocation to flowering in C3 and C4 grasses in a mesic grassland: implications for climate change.

I entered college as a non-traditional student at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. I began college in Computer Information Systems. At the time, it seemed that computers were the way to go, but I quickly found I had no love for this program. I switched majors and was accepted into the Environmental Science program. This is when I knew I was going to do something I would enjoy. The instructors at Haskell have all been very supportive and influential in keeping my interests focused. Another influence has been SEEDS. I attended my first SEEDS field trip to Baltimore in November of 2003. Immediately I felt at home with the other field trip participants. The students all had some of the same ideas and interests as me. This was also my first exposure to professionals in ecology other than my professors.Through my initial involvement with SEEDS and the Haskell Ecology Club I learned of the SEEDS fellowship. I applied, was accepted, and subsequently was able to attend the August 2004 ESA conference in Portland. At the conference I was able to experience first hand what the fellowship entailed by attending the presentations of the current fellowship recipients and visiting with them.The SEEDS program coordinated a mentor match for me and has helped me stay on task throughout the year. My mentor, Alan Knapp, is extremely knowledgeable. His knowledge and enthusiasm has helped me through the tough parts of my project. My research project is studying native grasses on the Konza Prairie in Manhattan, Kansas. I am observing the growth in different water treatments and how these treatments affect the production of vegetative versus reproductive growth.

Lucero Vasquez-Radonic
University of Texas at El Paso
Mentor: Rebecca Ostertag

Abstract: Understanding the interrelations of native and introduced species in the Hawaiian lowland wet forest through seed rain and soil seed bank quantification.

I remember going to the beach with my mother, and collecting every seashell I could find. I would fill boxes full of seashells, always thinking that they were beautiful decorations of the sand, but never realizing that the ocean was full of life and value. My mother always inculcated it in me to respect nature and see it as a gift and a responsibility to humankind, not as a commodity or property. Now I realize I did not fully understand my mother’s perception of nature until I went on a trip to the Tambopata National Reserve, in the Peruvian Amazon Rain Forest as a high school student. At Tambopata I understood the importance of ecology to further knowledge, and more importantly, to conserve the earth’s natural resources and the existing human cultures. At UTEP, my advisor was great at letting us know about every opportunity available, and she was the one who let me know about the SEEDS field trip to the Kananaskis field station, and consequently, I came to find out about the SEEDS fellowship. For my SEEDS fellowship research, I am working with Dr. Rebecca Ostertag of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, studying the seed rain and the soil seed bank at the Hawaiian lowland wet forest to contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms by
which introduced species are out competing native species. This understanding is necessary so that these forests can remain as functioning systems where the native species survive competition by invasive introduced species. This information may help us understand their competitive success, proving us the tools to develop alternative control methods that could be applied at the different life stages of the plant.

Ricardo Colon
University of Puerto Rico at Humacao
Mentor: Alberto Sabat

Abstract: The effects of predator abundance and food availabilty on the abundance of the sea urchin Diadema Diadema antillarum

I’ve been interested in ecology since I was a little kid. I grew up surrounded by a strange mix of nature and urban development in the island of Puerto Rico. I was always marveled by the ocean and by science. My main influence comes from Marine biologists and ecologists from the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao and in Río Piedras. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend to the SEEDS Urban Ecology Field Trip that was held in Baltimore, Maryland. That was the first time I heard about the SEEDS fellowship. My fellowship mentor, Dr. Alberto Sabat, and I came up with a project to compare urchin densities in different types of coral reefs that we expect to differ in predator presence, resource abundance, and water quality. We want to know how this keystone specie is distributed along these types of environments to establish a relation, if any, between these factors and the presence of (Diadema antillarum) on the coral reefs of Puerto Rico. Ecology has an important role in the future of science. Everyone talks about biotechnology and genetic engineering, but we can’t forget the role of ecology in our world. We humans are an integral part of the environment, our actions greatly affect the ecosystem, and mother nature can have quite a vengeance if she wants. I think ecological research is a vital part in the process of saving our planet.

Thalia Tooke
University of Kansas
Mentors: Luis Garcia Barrios and Tracy Benning

Abstract: Weeding strategies and the potential for adoption of glysophate-based technology in traditional maize production systems in Central Chiapas.

Deciding to study ecology or environmental science came about after studying biology and chemistry, because I saw how the basics of natural sciences are used in ecology and environmental science. All the sciences are interconnected and the problems facing the world today can be best addressed with a combination of science, social science, and humanities approaches. I have overcome many challenges that consisted of learning disabilities, family illness, personal illness, not enough resources to pay for school and the basics to live, etc. I have persevered because I believed in myself and my dreams and goals.I learned about the SEEDS fellowship program by searching the internet. My fellowship project is about weed management strategies in landrace maize fields in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. I spent the summer interviewing 60 subsistence farmers on how they manage their weeds. The only advice I can give is to find out what it is you don’t like to do. That is the starting point to find out what it is you like to do or are interested in. What is it that you love to do (that you have a passion for)? What would you do even if
you did not get paid for it?