Deadline Date: October 11, 2019, Noon
Award Recipient Announcement: October 28, 2019
The recipient of the 2019-2020 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Richard Hull, a student in the Department of Plant Biology. Richard was nominated by Dr. Wendy Zomlefer, also of the Department of Plant Biology. Richard developed a vascular plant species checklist for Cherokee County, Georgia. He compiled a preliminary list using digitized holdings at the University of Georgia Herbarium and vouchers from Reinhardt University and conducted field work in Cherokee County to expand records for that county. He is preparing a report on his results for publication. Laerm funds will support travel to the Association of Southeastern Biologists annual meeting where he will present an oral presentation on his project. His presentation’s abstract will be published in the ASB Bulletin.
The recipient of the 2014-2015 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Kelly Brown, a student in the Department of Anthropology. Kelly was nominated by Dr. Victor Thompson, also of the Department of Anthropology. Her work will contribute to the limited knowledge of seasonal occupation of archaeological sites in the Florida Keys. She will collect clam and oyster specimens from 8MO17, an archaeological site on Upper Matecumbe Key. Back at UGA, she will study stable oxygen isotopes in the shells of these animals to assess the season of death for each individual. Season of death is an indirect measure of the season(s) when people occupied the site. Laerm funds will be used for travel to the archaeological site and for isotope analysis.
The recipient of the 2013-2014 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Hayley Glassic, a student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Hayley was nominated by Dr. Bud Freeman, Odum School of Ecology. Her work will focus on the potential of museum collections to document temporal variation in the genomic DNA of black bass (Micropterus) by comparing DNA from recently acquired specimens prior to and after standard museum preservation. She will use specimens curated at the Georgia Museum of Natural History in her study. The results will inform her senior thesis and will be presented at Georgia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society meeting in Athens in 2014. Laerm funds will be used to purchase sequencing supplies.
One of the recipients of the 2012-13 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Lauren Austin, a senior in Fisheries and Wildlife. Lauren was nominated by Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, Odum School of Ecology. Her research focuses on parasitism in African buffalo in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Using parasitic worms collected from the intestines of these buffalo, she will examine competition among these organisms; specifically how the number of GI helminth parasites within each individual host affects the body size of individual worms. She will consider whether worm body size is the result of interspecific or intraspecific competition. Competition is linked to parasite fecundity and, ultimately, to the disease ecology of African buffalo. Funds will be used to purchase supplies need to identify, measure, and preserve the worms for her senior honors thesis.
The other recipient of the 2012-13 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Katherine Partrick, a junior in Animal Ecology and Population Biology. Katherine was nominated by Dr. Laurie Reitsema, Department of Anthropology. Her study investigates the influence of social status on weaning age in captive female rhesus macaques and their infants at the Yerkes Primate Research Center. Katherine will examine cortisol assays from blood samples and stable isotope signatures in blood and breast milk to study the influence of social rank on weaning age. She expects that high-ranking mothers will wean their infants earlier than low-ranking ones. Data will be assessed for evidence of links among stress, weaning age, infant development and socialization , maternal social status, and reproductive success for her senior honors thesis. Funds will be used to support stable carbon and nitrogen analysis collected for this study.
One of the recipients of the 2011-12 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Todd Pierson, a junior majoring in Ecology. Todd was nominated by Dr. John Maerz, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Todd will use the Laerm funds to develop the protocol for using environmental DNA (eDNA) to survey for patch-nose salamanders (Urspelerpes brucei). He will collect small water samples from a stream, extract the small amounts of DNA that are present (from shed skin cells, etc.), amplify the DNA sequences, and determine presence or absence of the species. This is a more cost-effective and timely method for surveying for salamanders and will allow him to determine if Urspelerpesoccurs outside of its currently known range. Environmental DNA has the potential to revolutionize the way that herpetological surveys are done.
The other recipient of the 2011-12 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Luben Raytchev, a sophomore majoring in Biology. Luben was nominated by Dr. Michael Yabsley, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Luben’s study investigates associations between Haemogregarine (a leech-borne protozoan parasite) and the behaviorial ecology of bottom-dwelling and basking turtles in Georgia and other locations in this country and in Brazil. Funds will be used for field expenses and genetic characterization of the parasites.
The recipient of the 2011 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Olivia Boyd. Olivia was nominated by Dr. Joe McHugh, Department of Entomology. Olivia is enrolled in three different degree programs: Ecology, Entomology, and Scientific Illustration. Her selection as the 2011 recipient is based on her excellent work as an NSF REU intern in the entomology collection. As an REU intern, she assisted with curation duties, especially in digitizing and databasing the entomology taxonomic literature library. She also participated in two research trips, one to the Museum National d'Historire Naturelle in Paris and the other to field sites in Thailand. She presented her undergraduate research project at the Entomological Society of America and received the President's Prize for best undergraduate research presentation in the Systematics, Evolution, and Behavior category. This paper was on a taxonomic description of two new species of sphindid beetles. All of these accomplishments make her an ideal recipient of the 2011 Award.
The recipient of the 2010 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Elizabeth Nixon, who will conduct her study under the direction of Dr. Gene Wright, Lamar Dodd School of Art.
Elizabeth proposes to develop exhibits for the insect collection to help educate the public about the natural complexity and beauty of these poorly appreciated animals. She proposes to use her artistic talents to bridge the gap between scientists and the public by designing an exhibit that will illustrate very small insects, developing a poster describing the insect collection and its uses, and improving the arthropod materials used during tours.
The recipient of the 2009 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Nicole Bertsch, Department of Anthropology, who will conduct her study under the direction of Dr. Erv Garrison. Nicki proposes to travel to the American Museum of Natural History to learn about methods of bone conservation. She makes this request in order to determine how best to conserve the mandible of an extinct Atlantic Gray Whale recovered by teams from the University of Georgia's Department of Geology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Her objective is to study methods of bone conservation in order to repair this important whale fossil and to ensure that it remains available for research for years to come.
The recipient of the 2007 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Zach Tarleton, a Biological Sciences Division major, who will conduct his research under the direction of Dr. Byron Freeman, Institute of Ecology and Georgia Museum of Natural History. Zach will study trematode parasites (Trematoda: Monogenea) infecting a group of fishes known as darters (Percidae). He will test methods and procedures used in similar studies to establish a new field method for parasite collection. He will also collect parasite and host genetic material for molecular analysis to illustrate the relationship between darters and the parasites that infect them. This proposal represents an outstanding example of creative natural history research and the Georgia Museum of Natural History is pleased to contribute to its support.
The recipient of the 2006 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Andrew M. Durso, Institute of Ecology, who will conduct his research under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Dean, Warnell School of Forest Resources. Andrew will study the effects of environmental factors on genetic diversity within populations of salamanders of the genus Ambystoma in the Whitehall Forest. His research will combine field work and GIS mapping technology, with analysis of the heterozygosity of major histocompatibility complex genes. It is expected that proximity to urban areas well correlate with a decrease in Ambystoma variability. This proposal represents an outstanding example of creative natural history research and the Georgia Museum of Natural History is pleased to contribute to its support.
One of the recipients of the 2005 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is William M. Collier, Institute of Ecology, who will conduct his research under the direction of Dr. Amy D. Rosemond. Collier will analyze the interactions of an exotic species (North American beaver [Castor canadensis]) on sub-Antarctic stream food webs in the Cape Horn Archipelago, Chile. Collier's study will quantify the impact of beavers on Fuegian aquatic ecosystems with the objective of providing information for further research and innovative management strategies. Funds will be used to support travel to his field site.
The second recipient of the 2005 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Thomas M. Luhring, a major in the Institute of Ecology and the Division of Biological Sciences, who will conduct his research under the direction of Dr. Gary W. Barrett. Luhring's study will attempt to elucidate whether nesting material and site availability are limiting factors in the regulation of population densities for the golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli). Funds will be used to support travel to the American Society of Mammalogists where he will present a poster on his research.
The third recipient is a team of students who work under the direction of Dr. Joseph McHugh, Department of Entomology. The students are Lori R. Shapiro, Nathan P. Lord, and Carmen C. Rodriguez, majoring in the Department of Entomology, the Institute of Ecology, and the Division of Biological Sciences. They will conduct research to determine whether fungus-feeding beetles of the superfamily Cucujoidea respond to two chemicals normally associated with damaged trees (ethanol and turpentine) and/or to pheromones from the bark beetle (Curculionidae: Scolytinae). Bark beetles are a major forest pest that cause millions of dollars of damage to conifer forests in the southeastern United States annually. A broader understanding of these interaction may provide insights into novel methods to control this costly forest pest. The research will also consider the evolution of such chemically-based interactions and explore a new method for trapping cucujoid beetles. The team will use their Laerm support to send one member to present a paper at the Entomological Society of America 2005 annual meeting.
The recipient of the 2004 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduate Students is Ryan Malloy, of the Institute of Ecology, who will conduct his research under the direction of Drs. Diana and Milton Lieberman. Ryan will use the funds to continue his research on the variation of microclimates through forest ecosystems with relation to man-made trails through tropical rainforest ecosystems in Costa Rica. He plans to sample heavily-used and sparsely-used trails at several research facilities, such as La Selva Biological Station and Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve. He hopes to determine if different types of trail characteristics contribute to variations in microclimates along each trail.
The recipient of the 2003 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for undergraduates is Sarah R. Fritts, Warnell School of Forest Resources, who conducts her research under the direction of Dr. John P. Carroll. The award will support her inventory of plants and animals harvested for traditional medicine by Makuleke traditional healers on the northern boundary of the Kruger National Park, Limpopo Province, South Africa. She is particularly interested in assessing the environmental impact of this harvest. Many of the plants and animals used in traditional medicine may be threatened already and the growing demand is putting further strain on these species.
The recipient of the 2002 Joshua Laerm Academic Support Award for Undergraduates is , Department of Anthropology, to conduct research under the direction of Dr. Mark Williams. The funds will support her study of archaeological materials from the Lake Springs Shell Midden in the Clark Hill Reservoir. These materials were excavated in 1951, but were lost for almost 50 years. They were recently found again and Howdeshell is completing their study. The Award will enable her to present the result of her research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research at Whitewater, Wisconsin in April.
Because the deadline dates were changed during this year, no one is listed as having received an undergraduate award for 2001.
One of the undergraduate awards in 2000 was to Chris Faggioni, of the Institute of Ecology. He requested support to conduct research under the direction of Dr. Peter Daszak on the presence of the frog pathogen Batrachochytrium in a long-term, stable population. This fungus is the cause of massive declines in amphibian populations throughout the world. He performed a histologic survey of specimens from the Savannah River Plant curated at the Georgia Museum of Natural History and from SREL during regular amphibian surveys to investigate this fungus in a stable amphibian population. He planed to submit the results of his work to Conservation Biology. The award was used to cover travel expenses to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the costs of the histology work.
The second undergraduate award in 2000 was to Tricia Michele Rodriguez, also of the Institute of Ecology. She requested funds to conduct research under the direction of Dr. Peter Daszak on the impact of the disease chytridiomycosis on the feeding activities of Rana pipiens tadpoles. This fungal disease is fatal to post-metamorphic frogs but little is known about its impact on frog larvae. She planed to examine the impact of the disease on tadpoles. If infected tadpoles are affected by the disease, this will be important to programs reintroducing tadpoles into the wild. The award was used to purchase supplies necessary for the study. Tricia later became an Intern in the Museum.
The undergraduate award in 1999 was to Nathan Nazdrowicz, of the Institute of Ecology. His proposal was entitled "Effects of Invasive Exotic Vegetation on Plant Community Dynamics." He requested support to attend the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) meetings where he presented a poster on the result of his research under the direction of Dr. Gary W. Barrett on the effects of invasive exotic vegetation on plant community dynamics at Horseshoe Bend Experimental Site. Mr. Nazdrowicz planned to submit a manuscript to Ecological Restoration/North America. AIBS was held at the Smithsonian Institution. Nathan eventually became an Intern with the Museum.
The first recipients of the Joshua Laerm Award were announced in December, 1998. The undergraduate awardee was Cary F. Feltman of the School of Forest Resources. Feltman was awarded $500.
Mr. Feltmans' application was titled "Harvest Pressure for Wildlife Resources in the Itonama Indigenous Territory, Bolivia". Feltman's advisor in Forest Resources was Dr. Sara Schweitzer. He used his award to travel to Bolivia to work as a field assistant for wildlife ecology Ph.D. candidate Kim Winter. His objectives were to gain practical field experience sampling wildlife populations in a neotropical forest as well as improve his Spanish skills and learn more about Bolivian culture and wildlife.