Iara Lacher (Ph.D. 2013) received a U.S. Fulbright Scholar Grant for proposed work in the Brazilian Cerrado, a sub-tropical grassland in south-central Brazil. She is partnered with the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Goiânia, Brazil under Dr. Thiago F. Rangel. Her work focuses on developing a prioritization framework for conservation of the Cerrado by combining biodiversity estimates under climate change with threats, predicted development, and the needs of local conservation organizations and governments.
Matt Savoca received a Grant-in-aid of Research from the Society of Integrative and Comparative
Biology to fund his graduate work, described below:
There is a great deal of work quantifying how much plastic debris there is in the marine environment, what organisms are consuming it, and the harm it may cause them as a result. However, there is not much work done asking why these marine organisms ingest plastic debris in the first place. My research investigates the sensory mechanisms behind the ingestion of marine plastic debris by procellariiform seabirds and marine fish.
Patrick Grof-Tisza was named as a Fellow for the Professors for the Future Program. More information on the Professors for the Future Program can be found here.
Rachel Wigginton was awarded a Delta Science Pre-doctoral Fellowship. Rachel's Delta Science research focuses on the impacts of invasive perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium) on ecosystem functions in tidal marshes of the San Francisco Bay-Delta. She will examine the relationship between density of the invasive plant and the impacts it has on ecosystem functions such as trophic transfer, biogeochemical cycling, and invertebrate community dynamics. By examining the problem from a multi-functional perspective, she hopes to gain a more thorough picture of how the invasive plant has become integrated into the native ecosystem. Additionally, understanding these dynamics as they relate to plant density will allow land managers to make informed decisions when considering eradication and control of this weed. She is advised by Ted Grosholz, and her Delta Science Community mentor is Dr. Brenda Grewell of the USDA ARS. Find more information here: http://caseagrantnews.org/2013/09/06/1-2-million-awarded-to-10-new-delta-science-fellows/
Erin Satterthwaite received a grant from the Neubacher Fund for Marine Science through Point Reyes National
Seashore. Erin's work is described below:
Many marine species depend on their planktonic, free swimming, babies (larvae) to replenish the adult population. Since the planktonic phase of numerous marine populations is a dispersing phase, the connectivity among various populations plays a central role in the management of marine species. Few studies have linked the planktonic (larvae) and benthic (adult) phases of marine organisms to provide a holistic understanding of how populations changes overtime. It is important to understand the relative influences of biological and physical factors in the benthic and planktonic habitats and the connectivity among populations to better manage populations of marine species. Therefore, I am using field and modeling data to determine how the physical and biological factors present in both the benthic and planktonic habitats affects the population dynamics and dispersal of an intertidal crab, the Flat Porcelain crab. Erin is advised by Steven Morgan at Bodega Marine Lab.
Meghan Skaer Thomason was awarded a Research Exchange Grant from the Global Invasions Network. This award supported Meghan's travel to Utrecht University in the Netherlands to work with Dr. Maarten Eppinga on developing a resource competition model describing interactions of rangeland weeds in California. Meghan's experience and research is featured on the Global Invasion Network website: https://invasionsrcn.si.edu/new-kid-on-the-block-a-novel-invader-in-an-invaded-community/
Jens Stevens received a Graduate Research Innovation Award from the Joint Fire Sciences Program.
Jens' work is described below:
Winter snowpack in the Sierra Nevada of California is an important ecological process that provides water storage and influences forest productivity and fire potential during the dry summer months. However, little is known about the ways in which fuel treatments and wildfire affect winter snowpack dynamics through their effects on forest canopy cover. We extend an existing study of fuel treatment effects on ecological processes to measure changes in snowpack accumulation and depletion rates across fuel treatment boundaries, both at unburned sites and at sites that have burned in wildfires. We are taking snowpack depth measurements at 600 points at 5 sites in the Sierra Nevada to relate this data to forest canopy closure, topography, and fuel moisture depletion during the snow- free season. This work will have important implications for our understanding of the interaction between forest management, wildfire, and snowpack dynamics in montane forests of western North America. Read more about Jens' work here.
Jennifer Balachowski received a Fulbright Fellowship for work in France. Jennifer's research is
I am working at CNRS-CEFE in Montpellier, France on a collaborative project that asks how different species and ecotypes of California native perennial grasses respond to and persist during periods of drought. Currently, we are measuring both functional and physiological traits to characterize the tradeoffs that define different drought survival strategies. We are also interested in how the prevalence of these strategies changes across environmental gradients, and between California and the Mediterranean Basin. We plan to use our results to make planting and breeding recommendations for rangeland/pasture management and Mediterranean-type grassland restoration in the face of increasing drought stress.
Lydia Beaudrot received a UC Davis Dissertation Year Fellowship (UCD Office of Graduate Studies). Read about Lydia's research here.
Karl Frost was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation and a
Fulbright Fellowship for proposed work in Canada. Karl's research is described below:
I research the genetic and cultural evolutionary dynamics of religion and ritual, specifically looking at how socially learned behaviors hijack relatively universally developing human behavioral dispositions to facilitate cooperation and altruism in ways that genetic evolution by itself can not. I pursue these question through a mix of gene-culture coevolution models, behavioral experiments with artificial rituals, and qualitative field research in North West First Nations communities and environmental activist circles. My other professional hat is that of experimental theater director, and i explore similar questions of the interrelationships between the body, functional values, and how we choose to live our lives through my company, Body Research.
Eric LoPresti and Allison Simler were awarded Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation.
Eric studies the interaction between plants and insect herbivores, as mediated by environmental factors (e.g. salinity,
rainfall) and also wonders about shape variation in birds' eggs.
Allison's research focuses on how forest structure and regeneration are influenced by two interacting disturbance forces: wildfire and an emerging invasive disease, Sudden Oak Death. Using data collected following the 2008 Basin Complex fire, Allison is investigating whether disease impacts post-fire successional trajectories and, in turn, how wildfire has influenced local and landscape-level disease dynamics. Allison's work is conducted in a long-term monitoring network located in the redwood-tanoak and mixed evergreen forests of Big Sur, CA.
Patrick Grof-Tizsa received a Mildred E. Mathias Grant
through the University of California Natural Reserve System. This grant will fund
Patrick's research, described below:
My research concerns how trophic forces and movement interact to structure the spatial distribution of populations. My study system consists of a generalist herbivore, a tiger moth (Platyprepia virginalis; Lepidoptera: Arctiidae), and its primary parasitoids and host plants. A twenty-plus year data set exists for the populations of P. virginalis within the Bodega Marine Reserve on the northern California coast. Combining this historical data set with my ongoing manipulative field experiments and observational studies provides a rare opportunity to identify and possibly explain long-term patterns and gives context to more recent population trends.