Faculty, staff and students from EEB gathered on May 18, 2023 to celebrate the end of the semester, recognize award-winners, and honor retirees. Check out this YouTube video to see all of the winners, along with some photos from the celebration.
Protected areas are critical to mitigating extinction of species; however, they may also be in conflict with efforts to feed the growing human population.
Paul Armsworth, professor of ecology and researcher with the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) is the co-author of a new study showing croplands are prevalent in protected areas, which challenges their efficacy meeting conversation goals. Varsha Vijay, a researcher at the University of Maryland’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) is the lead author.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that 6% of all global terrestrial protected areas are already made up of cropland, a heavily modified habitat that is often not suitable for supporting wildlife. Worse, 22% of this cropland occurs in areas supposedly enjoying the strictest levels of protection, the keystone of global biodiversity protection efforts.
In order to comprehensively examine global cropland impacts in protected areas for the first time, the authors synthesized a number of remotely sensed cropland estimates and diverse socio-environmental datasets.
Read more about the study at sesync.org.
The Armsworth Lab has a new open-access publication out in Nature Communications: “Factoring economic costs into conservation planning may not improve agreement over priorities for protection.” It is a collaboration between an interdisciplinary team of UT researchers with scientists at The Nature Conservancy and focuses on how best to identify candidate areas for establishing nature reserves.
Co-authors include Research Assistant Professor Heather Jackson, former graduate students Gwen Iacona (PhD 2014, now a postdoc at the University of Queensland) and Nate Sutton (MS 2014, now a data scientist for MedAmerica), and former postdoc Eric Larson (now faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).
The abstract is pasted below.
Conservation organizations must redouble efforts to protect habitat given continuing biodiversity declines. Prioritization of future areas for protection is hampered by disagreements over what the ecological targets of conservation should be. Here we test the claim that such disagreements will become less important as conservation moves away from prioritizing areas for protection based only on ecological considerations and accounts for varying costs of protection using return-on-investment (ROI) methods. We combine a simulation approach with a case study of forests in the eastern United States, paying particular attention to how covariation between ecological benefits and economic costs influences agreement levels. For many conservation goals, agreement over spatial priorities improves with ROI methods. However, we also show that a reliance on ROI-based prioritization can sometimes exacerbate disagreements over priorities. As such, accounting for costs in conservation planning does not enable society to sidestep careful consideration of the ecological goals of conservation.
Graduate Student Chad Stachowiak (Armsworth Lab), is a finalist for a 2018 Presidential Management Fellowship.
“The PMF Program is a flagship leadership development program at the entry level for advanced degree candidates. It was created more than three decades ago by Executive Order and has gone through many changes over the years. The Program attracts and selects the best candidates possible, but is really designed with a more narrow focus – developing a cadre of potential government leaders. It provides some sustenance during the first years of employment and encourages development of leadership capabilities. The PMF Program inculcates a lasting bond as well as a spirit of public service, ultimately encouraging and leading to a career in the government.”
Approximately 6,040 applications were received and 425 applicants were selected as Finalists. The 2018 Finalists’ pool represents approximately 69 different disciplines, 161 academic institutions, and 15% are veterans.
Austin Milt (PhD 2015, now a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin) won third place in Conservation Biology’s ‘Rising Star’ award for his manuscript, “The Costs of Avoiding Environmental Impacts from Shale-Gas Surface Infrastructure.” The Rising Star award considers all student led papers published in Conservation Biology in 2016. This award is judged by a group of Senior Editors and aims to recognize outstanding student researchers and communicators.
Congratulations to all the graduate students, undergraduate students, and staff who received awards at the EEB Awards Ceremony on May 1. To view more photos, please visit the EEB Facebook page. For more information about any of the awards below, please visit the Departmental Awards and Scholarships page.
2017 EEB Outstanding Master’s Thesis
Alix Pfennigwerth (Schweitzer Lab)
2017 EEB Jim Tanner Outstanding Dissertation
Michael Van Nuland (Schweitzer Lab)
2017 EEB Best Progress Toward Dissertation
Sam Borstein (O’Meara Lab)
2017 EEB Outstanding Publication by a Graduate Student
Rachel Wooliver (Schweitzer Lab)
2017 EEB Tom Hallam Appreciation Award
Angela Chuang (Riechert Lab)
2017 EEB Outstanding Outreach and Community Service by a Graduate Student
Alannie-Grace Grant (Kalisz Lab)
2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Award
Sarah Ottinger (Classen Lab)
2017 EEB Outstanding Undergraduate Research
Hannah Anderson (Riechert Lab)
2017 EEB Undergraduate for Professional Promise
Katie Plant (Williams Lab)
2017 EEB Outstanding Outreach and Community Service by an Undergraduate Student
Heiler Meek (Schweitzer Lab)
2017 EEB Outstanding Administrative Service Award
Going Above and Beyond Award
Jess Welch (Simberloff & McCracken Labs)
Congratulations to the EEB grad students who won Graduate Student Senate awards this year. There are a few different categories:
Research: This award is presented to graduate students who have received national and/or international recognition in their fields and show professional promise in their areas of research and creative achievement.
- Sam Borstein (O’Meara Lab)
- Angela Chuang (Riechert Lab)
- Aaron Floden (Schilling Lab)
- Alanni-Grace Grant (Kalisz Lab)
- Chloe Lash (Kwit Lab)
- Brian Looney (Matheny Lab)
- Margaret Mamantov (Sheldon Lab)
- Austin Milt (PhD 2015, Armsworth Lab)
- Morgan Roche (Kalisz Lab)
- Michael Van Nuland (Schweitzer Lab)
- Rachel Wooliver (Schweitzer Lab)
Service: This award is presented to graduate students who are extraordinary campus leaders or participate in service learning and other community initiatives.
- Christine Dumoulin (Armsworth Lab)
Teaching: This award is given to graduate teaching assistants for extraordinary performance in teaching.
- Amanda Benoit (Kalisz Lab)
- Liam Mueller (Schweitzer Lab)
- Tyson Paulson (Fordyce Lab)
EEB students have done very well again in the 2017 round of NSF GRFP (Graduate Research Fellowship Program) fellowships! Our congratulations go to finishing undergraduate Patrick McKenzie (Armsworth Lab), incoming graduate student Rachel Swenie (Matheny Lab), and current PhD student Morgan Roche (Kalisz Lab).
In addition, two EEB alumni won GRFP awards: Robert Connell (BS 2015, Kwit Lab, now at Kansas State University), and Kenna Rewcastle (BS 2015, Classen Lab)
PhD student Chloe Lash (Kwit Lab) received an honorable mention for her proposal.
A total of 15 NSF GRFP awardees and 3 honorable mentions were affiliated with the University of Tennessee (either as undergraduates, current students, or both), this means EEB accounts for 1/3 of UT’s NSF awardees and honorable mentions!
Austin Milt’s PhD (2015, Armsworth Lab) work is featured in a nice, one-page color spread in a new book by Craig Groves and Eddie Game: Conservation Planning: Informed Decisions for a Healthier Planet.
The book “will be very well-read within its field – likely the industry leading text for the next 5-6 years if recent history is anything to go by and widely read by grad students and conservation practitioners the world over,” said Milt’s former advisor, Paul Armsworth.
Milt is currently a Post Doc at the Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin, Madison.