ISU Headlines

Idaho State University Ph.D. student Ryan Long receives prestigious EPA STAR Fellowship

Posted October 5, 2010

Idaho State University biological sciences doctoral student Ryan Long has been awarded a prestigious Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Center for Environmental Research.

Long is completing his doctoral dissertation project comparing the influence of the thermal environment on behavior and fitness of elk in a forested ecosystem versus an arid desert ecosystem.

"The study has some pretty strong climate change implications," Long said, "which is probably one of the big things that appealed to the EPA. My project has the potential to provide important insights into the effects of climate change on large mammals."

Long is comparing the habits and patterns of behavior of elk fitted with GPS collars in the Southeast Idaho desert on Idaho National Laboratory lands with those of elk that have been fitted with GPS collars at the Starkey Experimental Forest in northeast Oregon near La Grande.

"This is an exceptional accomplishment by Ryan," said Terry Bowyer, ISU biological sciences professor. "The funding rate on this fellowship is less than 8 percent for applicants."

The STAR Fellowship is designed to support graduate research projects that are in line with the goals and mission of the EPA and to support up and coming scientists. During the three-year fellowship, Long will receive a $20,000 annual stipend, his tuition and fees will be covered, and he will receive $5,000 annually to help fund the costs of his research.

"I couldn’t be happier," Long said. "This is one of the most competitive graduate fellowships in the country and the majority of these fellowships typically go to bigger research schools like Wisconsin, Cornell or UC-Davis. It is a really big deal to bring one here to Idaho State University and it speaks to the quality of the ISU biological sciences department."

Long indicated that the intellectual merit of the research proposal, which is sent out for peer review similar to the process of submitting a scientific manuscript to a journal, is one of the primary criteria by which fellowship applications are judged. Secondly, Long received quality letters of recommendation written by Bowyer, ISU biological sciences professor John Kie and Long’s master’s advisor at the University of Idaho, Dr. Janet Rachlow. Finally, previously demonstrated performance is important and Long has a strong record of having papers published in scientific journals.

A native of Oregon, Long, 28, earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and his master's degree from the University of Idaho, before coming to ISU about 2-1/2 years ago.

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