July 24, 2012

Grad student’s research poster earns top award

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A Southern Illinois University Carbondale student captured the top spot in a research competition that drew nearly 300 entries from other graduate students at institutions across the country. 

Therese C. Frauendorf won the 2012 best poster presentation in basic research award from the Society for Freshwater Science. The award recognizes Frauendorf's work on a poster titled "Ontogenetic diet shifts among neotropical stream macroinvertebrates." 

Frauendorf's work received higher marks than all the other 279 entries in the basic research category. 

Also named in the award are SIU Carbondale co-authors Amanda Rugenski, research graduate assistant, and Matt R. Whiles, professor of zoology.

Frauendorf, a research assistant in zoology from Carbondale, will receive a $250 award and a book. She will receive the award at the organization's 2013 conference in Jacksonville, Fla.

Whiles, who helped guide the research, said the annual meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science is a large gathering of freshwater ecologists from around the world.

"Winning an award for a presentation at an international meeting like this is quite an accomplishment, and it's great advertising for our graduate research programs at SIU Carbondale," Whiles said.  

Whiles said the research centered on the ecological consequences of amphibian population declines in Central America. Frauendorf was part of team of students and faculty members from SIU Carbondale and at other universities working on the issue. 

"Graduate research is central to what we do at SIU Carbondale," Whiles said.  "Along with her development as a young scientist, her project provided opportunities for undergraduates at SIU to get involved in research and get 'hands on' experience beyond the classroom."

Whiles and Rugenski have conducted research on the catastrophic decline in the number of frogs in Central America for the last several years. Specifically, the research has shown the declining number of tadpoles in the high-mountain regions of Panama is drastically changing the way an important nutrient cycles through the food web, which could point to less ecological stability within the system, Whiles said. Frauendorf's work is all part of the same project and funding.