Five awards are presented annually by the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources.
The award winners are as follows:
- Deidre Supple (M. Buell Award for Outstanding Student in Ecology).
- Anna Korn (Peter S. Smouse Award for Outstanding Student in Evolution).
- Brian Schumm (James Applegate Award for Outstanding Student in Wildlife Conservation).
- Michelle Arias (James Applegate Award for Outstanding Student in Wildlife Conservation)
- Caroline Beardsley (Roger Locandro Award for Outstanding Students in Natural Resources).
M. Buell Award for Outstanding Student in Ecology
Growing up on a farm in Hunterdon County I spent most of my childhood outside picking berries in the hedgerows, pulling leaves off of plants and studying them while waiting for the next wagon of hay to come in, and catching frogs, lightning bugs, and bats with my cousins in the evenings (we always let the critters go of course). I was always fascinated by the natural world, whether exploring it in person, watching nature documentaries on TV (and taking notes!), or reading about it in books, fiction and non-fiction alike.
While pursuing an associates degree in biology at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) I enrolled in Dr. Jay Kelly's Ecology class for fun and on the very first field trip I fell immediately in love with plant identification and with learning about how the plants could be used to interpret the goings-on within the ecosystem – we were replicating Murray Buell and Warren Wistendahl's study of Mertensia “island,” the historical significance of the place was tremendous.
After RVCC I transferred to and graduated from Rutgers with a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Science but felt no passion for life in the farmer's market world. Finally convinced that the study of ecology could be more than an interesting hobby I returned to my roots at RVCC to major in Environmental Science and I was taken under the wing of Dr. Emilie Stander. Engaging in her service learning projects and internships opened the doors to opportunities that connected science knowledge with sustainability, civic engagement, and education and there I found purpose.
At Rutgers once again, this time in the Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources program I was thrilled to discover Wistendahl's black walnut specimens in the herbarium during a Rutgers botany class (everything's connected!). And I've spent the last three years working with my community college professors, applying my new knowledge to various projects including preserving dune habitat, monitoring streams, researching and educating the public about the effects of overabundant white-tailed deer on forest health, and starting a recycling program for faculty and staff offices at the college.
After graduation I will be returning for my final year at Rutgers as a graduate student, pursuing a Masters degree in Education with teacher certification so that I can follow in the footsteps of the wonderful teachers who inspired me and share my love and understanding of the life sciences with my future high school biology, ecology, and environmental science students.
Peter S. Smouse Award for Outstanding Student in Evolution
I am honored to be receiving the Peter Smouse Award from the faculty in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources. I'm excited to be a part of the SEBS graduating Class of 2018, graduating with a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and a Certificate in Environmental Geomatics. My education here, through both class work and hands-on practical experience, has provided me with the tools that I will need for a career built on a life-long enjoyment of nature.
After growing up in a military family that often moved from place to place, my family settled down in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Growing up in the Pine Barrens means that the outdoors has always been an integral part of my life. However, coming to Rutgers four years ago, I originally had the intention of studying biochemistry. I quickly found that indoor lab work was not for me. I joined the EENR department my sophomore year with little to no knowledge of plant ecology other than a childhood spent mostly outdoors. Now, just over two years later, with the help of my professors and advisor, I'm graduating with knowledge of invasive plant ecology and native plant conservation.
Immediately post-graduation, I will be working with the non-profit land trust Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space as a Land Stewardship Intern. While working with FoHVOS, I hope to gain experience working in the field to help manage the preserved open space that we have in New Jersey, while learning the ins and outs of the operation of a land trust. Here, my knowledge of invasive plant ecology will be essential, while we work to conserve native plant species on preserved land under the constant pressures of surrounding urbanization. Overall, my goal is to continue with a career in a non-profit organization that promotes ecological conservation and community engagement.
James Applegate Award for Outstanding Student in Wildlife Conservation
I was born at Dover General Hospital in 1994 and grew up in Roxbury, New Jersey. I spent some time in Cub and Boy Scouts which formed my first experiences out in the woods, though I remained active in athletics for longer than scouts. Whenever I look back on the path I chose, I clearly see my enrollment in a geophysical science course taught by Mr. Justin Kulick at Roxbury High School as the genesis of my interest in science. Mr. Kulick opened the natural world to me and sparked an interest in science and the outdoors that has only grown since.
Unsure of a specific career I wanted to follow, I started my time at Rutgers undeclared in the School of Arts and Sciences. I experimented in a variety of courses my first year, including geophysical science, a business course, and even elementary Chinese. Crucially, I enrolled in a Byrne Seminar taught by Dr. Olaf Jensen where we learned some basics of fishery sciences. The last day of class, he suggested I speak to Dr. Julie Lockwood who finally told me to enroll in the major of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and to speak to Dr. Maslo about volunteering on some field work. Following her advice in those two items were among the best decisions I've ever made.
In the spring of 2015, I was extraordinarily fortunate with my timing in speaking to Dr. Brooke Maslo as she shortly after received funding for a project studying the effects of oyster aquaculture on migrating shorebirds in the Delaware Bay, NJ. I was hired and needless to say, I fell in love with field work, ecology, and the art of scientific investigation. Dr. Maslo kept me around after that field season ended and patiently taught me the ways of ecological research and wildlife management. I am still working on the shorebird project as a Field Crew Leader while also conducting basic analytical processes in the off-season. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work on projects concerning bats threatened by White Nose Syndrome, coastal and floodplain habitat restoration, and provide educational outreach to the public.
Aside from the work I conduct in Dr. Maslo's lab and the ecology major courses, I also completed the Certificate of Environmental Geomatics which opened up another world of analytical methods. This program gave me an incredible amount of experience developing and conducting research projects in small groups and gave me the opportunity to explore many additional research interests under a spatial context. In January of 2017, I became president of the Rutgers Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society which has provided me many fond memories learning more about wildlife with other students. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career as a NJ Conservation Police Officer protecting our state's natural resources. With how much I have been helped along my path to where I stand today, I hope to be able to do the same for others in the years to come.
James Applegate Award for Outstanding Student in Wildlife Conservation
My first two years at Rutgers were spent exploring different academic paths and searching for research opportunities. With the help of the McNair Scholars Program, I found my way into the Maslo lab during the summer of 2015. My first experience with wildlife was mist netting bats with the Maslo lab team and New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program. This experience alone convinced me to switch schools and declare my major as Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources. I was unaware that from this moment on that my undergraduate experience was set to flourish. I continued working with Dr. Brooke Maslo and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Wildlife Conservation and Management Program helping resolve bat-human conflict. This work then led to my G.H. Cook Honors thesis titled, Factors Influencing Bat Occupancy of Artificial Roost Boxes.
During my time at Rutgers I was able to explore a little bit of the world by presenting my G.H. Cook research at the International Symposium of Undergraduate Research in Brazil at the University of São Paulo. I also took the opportunity to study abroad in Indonesia and Belize through the Rutgers Global-Study Abroad program. In my last year, I was given the opportunity to be a Peer Instructor and teach a First-Year Interest Group Seminar with Dr. Suzanne Sukhdeo as my faculty mentor. In addition to this, I had the pleasure of serving as the Vice President of Rutgers Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Now that my undergraduate experience is coming to an end, I am looking forward to new opportunities that await me. I was recently awarded the Fulbright Award and will be living in Brazil for nine months after graduation. In the future, I hope to be enrolled in a PhD program in Ecology and Evolution.
Roger Locandro Award for Outstanding Students in Natural Resources
Growing up with the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge in my backyard, I became fascinated with animals and the habitats they live in. My father introduced me at a young age to the outdoors, such as hiking, camping, canoeing, snowboarding, etc., and would take me on excursions every weekend. At Rutgers, I found the Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources major to be the perfect fit for my love of wildlife and nature.
Through SEBS and the EENR department, I have had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in the Lockwood lab under Jeff Brown, a graduate student investigating the effects of light pollution on invertebrate communities in protected areas. I was invited to present the research in a speed talk at the Student Conference on Conservation Science of New York at the American Museum of Natural History. My research involvement has been a large part of my Rutgers experience, and I owe so much of my growth to the department and all of the professors who have given me these amazing opportunities.
Using the skills and knowledge I've acquired from my time at Rutgers, I hope to strengthen the link between the environment and the community. After graduating, I plan to find a position where I am able to make an impact on public awareness of the need to protect our environment and ecosystems. My dream is to conduct research in conservation ecology and be able to work in the beautiful outdoors every day.