VCU Rice Center

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News and events
May 8, 2013

VCU Rice Center Researchers Receive Awards

On Wednesday, April 24, the Poster Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity was held in the Commonwealth Ballroom of the Student Commons. Organized by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and part of VCU Student Research Week, the annual Undergraduate Poster Symposium is a wonderful opportunity for students to present their research endeavors to their academic peers, members of the VCU faculty, community members, and friends and family. Projects include research and scholarly work from a wide variety of academic disciplines.

Dr. Cliff Fox presented awards for two projects:

Ryan Weaver, a senior in the Center for Environmental Studies, won an award for his scientific poster, “Mangrove Age as a Predictor of Overwintering Habitat Quality for Neotropical Migratory Birds”. He will be giving an oral presentation on the same study at the Rice Research Symposium on May 17 at the VCU Rice Center. Dr. Lesley Bulluck is his faculty mentor; also, Mr. Weaver is a two-time attendee of the Panama Avian Field Ecology class.

Dr. James Vonesh’s research team received an award for their scientific poster which also will be presented at the Rice Symposium: “A Collaborative National-Scale Analysis of Land Use and Frog Diversity”. Dr. Vonesh’s group consisted of the following students: Shane Abinette, Uswa Arain, Blair Cousins, Christopher Crockett, Max Dichek, Jennifer Fjelsted, Sara Holtschneider, Arthur Kay, Sajan Moktan, Alessandro Molina, Juliana Rostan-Zimmer and Ryan Weaver. The project was part of a class involving ten universities and was a very unique experience for the students; students were selected to bring these data to NCEAS in Santa Barbara, CA for a large-scale analysis of the results. VCU sent four students (the most of any participant) with additional funds from the Department of Biology, The College of Humanities and Sciences, and UROP:  Ryan Weaver, Chris Crockett, Jennifer Fjelstead, and Alessandro Molina were selected based on externally reviewed proposals, their skill using spatial analysis tools, and their ability to identify all the frogs of Virginia by call.

Additionally, there were four posters presented at the Symposium by VCU Rice Center researchers:

“Feather Reflectance Indicates Reproductive Success and Reveals No Carry Over Effect in Female Prothonotary Warblers” — Samantha Kay, Sarah Huber, Lesley Bulluck, Ph.D.

Above: Samantha Kay

“Mangrove Forest Age as a Predictor of Overwintering Habitat Quality for Neotropical Migratory Songbirds” — Ryan Weaver, Cathy Viverette, Lesley Bulluck, Ph.D.

Above: Ryan Weaver

“Maternal Manipulation of Gender Ratios” — Gretchen Wilson, Cathy Viverette, Rodney Dyer, Ph.D., Lesley Bulluck, Ph.D.

Above: Gretchen Wilson

“Effects of Eastern Bluebird Nestling Mortality on the Distribution of West Nile Virus in Central Virginia” - Charles Robertson, Lesley Bulluck, Ph.D. and Kevin Caillouet, Ph.D.

Above: Wes Robertson

Additionally, Ed Crawford, Ph.D. was one of 5 faculty mentors who received an award as an undergraduate student mentor.  According to student Gabby LaTora, Dr. Crawford’s love for ecology, his knowledge of the subject and enthusiasm for field research inspired her to pursue it as a course of study:

“He always incorporated real research into his lectures, and through his Ecology lab, I learned real field sampling techniques and exactly how to write a scientific paper. I feel much more prepared to find a job in ecological research after taking his courses because he made research such a reality for students. He accompanied us to Panama over winter break, and that's where I saw his field work in action. He taught us so many things in the field--how to identify plants and animals, why they were there, features unique to mangrove and cloud forest systems, and anything else you can think of.  It was an unbelievably eye-opening experience, and I never would have gotten as much out of it if Dr. Crawford were not involved. Overall, he showed me what ecological research is and gave me an introduction on how to do it. Since my career goal is to do some type of ecological research, this experience was invaluable to me, and I have to give most of the credit to Dr. Crawford.”

Ms. LaTora emphasizes that Dr. Crawford is making an enormous impact on students at VCU. Our sincere congratulations to Dr. Crawford.