April 04, 2005

Karen Lips wins prestigious Leopold Leadership Fellowship

by Paula Davenport


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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A zoologist on Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s faculty is among a select group of 20 North American environmentalists just chosen to receive a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship.

Honors go to Karen R. Lips, an associate professor of zoology. She is an expert on neo-tropical frogs and the ecological obstacles facing them.

As an Aldo Leopold Fellow, she will join 19 of her peers for two separate week-long training sessions on how to better communicate important scientific findings to media organizations, policy makers and the general public.

Lips is known around the globe for helping detect a previously unknown fungus that appears to play a part in population crashes of some frog species.

The program is competitive and is based at the Stanford Institute for the Environment. It pays homage to Leopold, a renowned environmental scientist perhaps best known as author of “A Sand County Almanac,” essays on the natural world inspired by observations of his Indiana farm.

Communicating through popular media will be the focus of the first session. The second will focus on interacting with policy makers, industry and non-governmental organizations and will be held in Washington, D.C.

Additional information on the program and its participants is available at www.leopoldleadership.org.

Lips presently is looking into geographic and ecological patterns of amphibian declines in Latin America.

Frogs are considered an indicator species, much like canaries miners once carried into coalmines to warn of fatal gases.

Lips is also a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, winner of the Biodiversity Leadership Award from the Bay & Paul Foundation, and she belongs to the Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force and a number of other professional organizations devoted to herpetology, amphibians and reptiles.

She belongs to the faculty in the SIUC College of Science.

Leading in research, scholarly and creative activity is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.