The UF/IFAS School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) recently announced the recipients of the inaugural Nadeau Graduate Research Award. The Robin E. Nadeau Fund established an endowment to support and promote research and education in the SNRE. The goal is to highlight the unique Interdisciplinary Ecology (IE) graduate program in natural resources and environmental sciences.
Each awardee will receive $4,000 (Ph.D. students) and $2,000 (M.S. students) to support research and educational programs. Funding can be used to pursue basic and applied research in interdisciplinary ecology:
- For travel to visit internationally recognized institutions to learn new techniques
- Participation in scientific meetings related to the applicant’s research
- To present research at national and international meetings
- To conduct research in the field for data collection.
The recipients of the inaugural Nadeau Graduate Research Award are:
Alex’s research in SNRE is focused on predicting how climate change will impact the spread of invasive species, in particular Burmese pythons, in the southeastern United States. He also hopes to determine the efficacy of various land management strategies for achieving conservation goals. This research heavily emphasizes the interdisciplinary principals of SNRE by 1) leveraging citizen science to measure ecological processes, 2) eliciting expert opinion from agency professionals to understand management considerations, and 3) integrating learned information to provide data necessary to promote conservation and inform policy.
“I am seeking financial support for skill development, network building, and dissemination of research findings,” Alex explained. “My advisor, Dr. Brett Scheffers, and I have outlined the following activities as necessary for maintaining strong academic performance, for which I do not have financial support.”
Sinomar Da Fonseca
Sinomar’s dissertation is Strategies of Indigenous people mobilization and key allies regarding FPIC in the Brazilian Amazon. It focuses on four scholarly pieces of literature which he expects to enhance theoretical and conceptual outcomes and filling gaps for environmental governance, indigenous mobilization, NGOs, and tactical repertoires in social movements, and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) itself. It will be interdisciplinary in nature, and highlight points of contact among the literature considered. Then, the three research questions:
- How have indigenous peoples mobilized around FPIC as a strategy to defend their lands?
- What are the reasons why environmental NGOs working in the Brazilian Amazon have shifted their strategic focus to feature FPIC and closer collaboration with indigenous peoples?
- How do the MPF and FUNAI respond to requests from indigenous groups for FPIC processes in the context of infrastructure projects?
To address these questions, Sinomar will focus a case study on the proposed paving of the BR-319 highway in the south of Amazonas states, Brazilian Amazon.
Maggie investigates how large mammals affect trees in South African savannahs. Trees are critical resources in savannahs for birds, bats, insects, and other animals that live there. They also are influenced by the herbivores that eat them.
Maggie’s primary study site is South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Since the area is protected, the elephant populations can grow quickly. As they eat large trees in the savannahs there, tree populations can be diminished when there are many elephants around. She wants to see how tree populations respond to these changes and if they can recover. The overall project she is part of involves monitoring changes in the diversity of many living things in the region over time.
Esteban’s research is on the use of satellite and drone imagery to conduct marine mammal abundance and distribution studies. In particular, he is working on the use of object-based image analysis for the automation of recognition of marine mammals in this type of imagery, to reduce processing times. He said drone and satellite imagery are useful especially for remote regions, as they permit users to obtain data on marine mammals in a non-invasive way, with less logistical difficulties and at comparable or lower costs than traditional surveys on airplanes and ships.
“I am using the funding for a research stay at the lab of one of my committee members, Dr. Michelle LaRue, at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in Fall 2021,” Esteban explained. “Her lab is part of Gateway Antarctica, the center for Antarctic research of the University of Canterbury, and will allow me to test and improve my object-based image analysis workflows, as well as to audit courses, attend seminars and meet other researchers of the field.”
Upon the conclusion of their research, each awardee will present findings at the SNRE Annual Research Symposium.
The award is named for Robin E. Nadeau, a resident of St. Augustine who championed conservation efforts. She died in January 2012. Her estate donated a gift to the UF Foundation, which established this award.