I recently returned from the Ecological Society of America in Portland, OR. While I got to attend lots of interesting talks and workshops, and grabbed many a microbrew with my grad school friends and fellow ecologists, the highlight for me, as always, was the work that I got to do with ESA Student Section. For the last three years, UCS has teamed up with the ESA student section on a number of activities at ESA annual meeting, but our biggest collaboration is the annual UCS ESA-SS Ecoservice award. The award is designed for ecology students who go above and beyond their research and school work to use their scientific training to help society at large. As always we had a lot of really strong candidates this year and I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the great work the winners are doing.
This year we had two incredible front runner candidates, and for the first time ever, we decided to give the Eco-service award to them both.
Jessica Shade is a PhD student at UC Berkeley studying the genetic patterns on two Lupine species. In between research and course work she found time to found and direct the Diversity Mentorship Program, which trains graduate student instructors how to use inclusive teaching practices. In addition to that program, she also mentors students from elementary to high school who are underrepresented in science. She also uses science as a tool to teach English as a second language students.
The other winner Talia Young is a PhD student at Rutgers University. In addition to her research on aquatic food webs, which includes field sites in Mongolia and Baja California, she works with underserved students of color in Philadelphia. She views herself as a “science translator” and designed and taught an extracurricular science class for those students. The class includes a trip to an ecological field station and even uses actual datasets from her research to teach high school students the basics of the scientific method and data analysis.
In addition the two winners we give a certificate of merit to Franklin Egan, a PhD student at Pen State, for his work running a community garden on campus there.
Rounding out our honorees, we gave honorable mentions to two candidates. One went to Tanya Cheeke, a PhD student at Portland State University, for her work mentoring students and communicating science to the general public and the second went to Monica Granados, a PhD candidate at McGill University, for her work as a science ambassador to her local community.
All of us here at UCS are impressed with what these early career scientists are able to achieve outside the realm of science. We know they will go on to do great things in the future and we look forward to seeing the amazing candidates who apply for next year’s award.
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