Roger Locandro Award for Outstanding Student in Natural Resources 2017
Christopher Brianik

Christopher Brianik is the 2017 Roger Locandro Award Winner I grew up in Somerville, NJ and I have always been interested in the environment and the outdoors as long as I can remember which I accredit to my father raising me through the scouts. I have always been fond of going for hikes and camping but it wasn’t until the latter half of my freshman year that I discovered the Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resource major. Initially I came into Rutgers as an SAS student that was undecided but leaning towards business. This quickly changed when I took Intro to Ecology & Evolution course taught by Dr. S. Sukhdeo. It was in this class I had my first taste of the major, and soon thereafter I approached Dr. Sukhdeo and asked to join the major. She immediately told me how to declare my major and to switch into SEBS, which I did later that day. Over the summer I started to work in the Sukhdeo lab as a field tech working under grad student, Rita Grunberg, catching fish. Coming back to school in the fall I ended up taking Parasite Ecology with the other Dr. Sukhdeo, and very soon my interests became focused on the ecology of parasites. I ended up spending the next 3 years in the Sukhdeo lab working on several research projects, the first one was on parasite differences in Alewife populations in my junior year. This was followed by my G.H. Cook project understanding how parasite diversity is related to host diversity in a river ecosystem. These projects kept me very busy in my second half of my college career. Outside of lab I also took some very memorable ecology courses such as, Invertebrate Zoology, Field Techniques, and Evolution of Animal Behavior, with my main interests developing around parasites and insects.

For my future plans I am going to continue to work in the Sukhdeo lab over the summer so that I help finish up some research and hopefully publish some of my work. From there I plan on working as a NJ Watershed Ambassador for a year. After this time I plan on returning to school to follow my passion of parasite research. The last 4 years have been great and I owe a lot to the Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resource department for fueling my development.