January 19, 2007

NSF funds ecology fellowships for SIUC students

by Tim Crosby

 Graduate and doctoral students studying various aspects of the environment have a shot at fellowships funded by the National Science Foundation through Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Starting this summer, the fellowships provide funding to students for two years as they work with faculty at the SIUC Center for Ecology. The center provides a focus for faculty and students whose work relates to the study of ecology. Such disciplines include forestry, geology, plant and soil science and zoology, among others. It also is associated with the University’s Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory and the Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center.

The fellowship program is open to new students who are starting their post-graduate or doctoral programs.

The students will use the fellowships for support as they pursue their thesis or dissertation research. They also are required to partner with a local high school teacher working within the Heartland Ecological/Environmental and Academic Research Training program — the HEART program.

As part of that program, students will pair up with high school science teachers in Carbondale, Murphysboro and Cobden and help develop the curriculums for those teachers’ classes. They also will mentor the teachers on research projects conducted during the summer at Touch of Nature Environmental Center and work with students on research methods, as well.

Together, the HEART program will help the graduate or doctoral student learn about curriculum development while helping high school teachers and students learn more about researching the environment, said Scott Schuette, fellowship program manager and a researcher in the Department of Plant Biology in the College of Science at SIUC.

The NSF funded the fellowships with a five-year, $1.8 million grant. The grants will provide a student with two years of funding at $30,000 per year. The fellowship program will select four students for funding each year, Schuette said.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to recruit some excellent graduate students to the Center for Ecology,” Schuette said.

Interested students should contact Schuette for more details and applications. Applications are due in early February, with the selection process beginning on Feb. 16, Schuette said.