Joshua Tree National Park, in partnership with the Joshua Tree National Park Association, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Robert Lee Graduate Student Research Grant at Joshua Tree National Park. This year the park received many highly competitive research applications and after careful review has awarded grants to four applicants:
1) Heather Hulton is a PhD student in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at University of California, Riverside. Ms. Hulton will be replanting different habitat islands in order to test the effectiveness that different planting schemes have on recruiting flora and fauna and successfully restoring post-fire burned lands in Joshua Tree National Park.
2) Theodor Strollo Gordon, a PhD student in Anthropology from UC, Riverside, is examining
oral histories and archeological records in order to understand how the interactions between settlers and tribal communities living between 1850 – 1960 in what is now Joshua Tree National Park influenced their communities.
3) Ashley D’Antonio, a PhD student in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and
Management at Utah State University, is randomly surveying hikers and climbers that visit the Park, to explore the relationship between visitor perceptions of resources impacts and visitor characteristics (e.g. knowledge, behavior), to better inform park management decisions, park operational practices, and communications with park recreational users.
4) Benjamin Wissinger is pursuing a Masters of Science in Natural Resources from University of Idaho, and will be examining the effects of air pollution caused by atmospheric nitrogen deposition on plants, seeds, and harvester ants in semi-arid desert ecosystems, specifically those within Joshua Tree National Park.
Grant proposals were evaluated based on three selection criteria: a) scientific merit, b) applicability to education and interpretive outreach materials, and c) ability to inform park managers on natural and/or cultural resources conditions. Each applicant chosen for funding was outstanding in demonstrating how their research can be applied to land management issues as well as increase our understanding of park resources and their condition.
For information about the Robert Lee Graduate Student Research Grant program or other park science research, please contact Joshua Tree National Park Science Coordinator Dr. Vicky Chang at 760-367-5579, or by email at Victoria_chang@nps.gov.