May 122013

Congratulations to former GK-12 Fellows Liz Schultheis and Nick Ballew for the following awards granted this spring: 

Liz received the 2012-2013 Fields Teaching Award from the MSU Department of Plant Biology. The award is given once annually to a Plant Biology graduate student, “recognizing originality in teaching methods and a recipient’s ability to generate enthusiasm about learning and to influence student attitudes and interests”.  

Liz_1Liz has honed her teaching and science communication skills over the last three years of service as a GK-12 Fellow. She is also beginning a second year of partnering with the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. She has created and presented many lesson plans for K-12 students, hosted workshops for K-12 teachers, and attended local and national education conferences (GK-12 annual meeting, MSTA, NABT, ESA Life Discovery). She helped co-create Data Nuggets and is continuing to improve their format, create a new website, and host workshops helping other scientists create nuggets based on their own research, in collaboration with BEACON and GK-12. You can read her recent post about Data Nuggets on the BEACON website here.

Nick (GK-12 Fellow from Fall 2010 to Spring 2012) received two outstanding awards this spring. The MSU Zoology department awarded him the 2012-2013 Hensley Research Award. The Hensley award was established in 1995 to further the disciplines of zoological and biological science. The scholarship recognizes one outstanding undergraduate and graduate student each year that is pursuing education in vertebrate zoology with emphasis on field study. Nick studies how behavioral traits impact fitness at different life stages in largemouth bass. Specifically, he investigates the effects of behavioral traits on juvenile survival and adult reproductive success. He’s been actively researching this topic since 2008. Nick is also investigating the relationships between behavioral traits and vulnerability to being caught by fishing.

011 - CopyYou may wonder why Nick is interested in bass behavior. He says, “Largemouth bass are one of the nations most popular sportfish species. Recreational fishing has the potential to alter the fitness effects of different behavioral traits, which could cause the population to evolve in response to fishing pressure. Specifically, the population could evolve to become less vulnerable to fishing pressure, meaning it would be harder to catch fish. This could have negative impacts on the billion+ dollar a year bass fishing industry. Thus, my research could be important for fishery managers and policy makers.”

Nick also received funding for his NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG), titled “Fitness tradeoffs in animal personalities across life stages.”

Congratulations again to these fine Fellows!