Travel grant recipients prepare for exciting conference

Fourteen students and early career professionals have received travel grants to attend the upcoming annual TWS conference in Spokane, Washington, many of whom have never attended a TWS conference in the past.

The Wildlife Society awarded a total of $7,000 to the recipients, who will be traveling from the United States, Canada and as far as New Zealand. Two of the individuals were Aldo Leopold Memorial Scholarship Recipients, who will receive an additional $500.

Kimberly Haab is one of those who received a grant.

“I applied because I am pushing toward the end of my graduate school experience and funds are a little bit lower,” said Haab, who is currently in a master’s program at Oregon State University studying wildlife science. Haab said she is especially excited to attend an in-person conference for the first time in quite a while. “In-person is a big draw,” she said. “I learn better like that and there are networking opportunities. It’s a better experience than virtual.”

Haab will be presenting research on habitat and food availability characteristics of sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) at the conference. Specifically, she will focus on the invertebrate community and herbaceous vegetation in areas where juniper has been removed as part of habitat restoration in sage-grouse habitat. Haab hopes she can learn more about her research subject at the conference. “It is a pretty well-studied species, and so I know there will be others presenting on sage-grouse,” she said. “I’m interested to tune in to their talks.”

Kimberly Haab is researching food and habitat availability for sage-grouse.
Credit: Courtesy Kimberly Haab

Roslyn Rivas, the Public Programs Manager at NYC Audubon, who will be attending the conference from New York, is also excited for the in-person conference. “I highly enjoyed attending the past two TWS Conferences virtually,” she said. “I learned so much from fellow wildlife scientists and loved connecting with them through workshops and social online gatherings. I hope to continue making those connections as we gather in person this year. I’m also excited to travel to a region I’ve never visited before and see Spokane’s green spaces.”

Other grant recipients also hope to network and learn more about topics that are important to them. Diana Methner, a master’s student at Grand Valley State University, has never attended a TWS conference before. She plans to use the grant to present on her research on wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) spatial ecology and use of recently restored oak-savanna habitat at the conference. “By attending this conference, I will be able to share my research with others in the wildlife field while also learning a great deal about the research others are working on or have completed,” she said. “I will also have a chance to network with future colleagues and collaborators to continue growing my career as a scientist and to further aid imperiled species in the future.”

Chris Muller, a PhD student, hasn’t attended an annual TWS conference, either. He will be traveling all the way from Massey University in New Zealand. “It would be a significant expense for me to travel from New Zealand, as economy airfares alone are a minimum of NZD$2400 return, plus accommodation and airport transfers as well,” he said. “Unfortunately, no money is available from my institution to support international travel this year, and I cannot afford to be solely self-funded.”

Muller said he is looking forward to sharing his findings on a new method he developed for wildlife tracking, involving new VHF drone-based technology.

“I am keen to share my findings, including evaluating and refining existing technology to improve aerial tracking efficiency,” Muller said. “I am also very interested to meet other biologists and to hear about their wildlife tracking experiences, and hopefully arrange future collaboration after my PhD.”

The following are this year’s travel grant recipients:

Katie Anderson

Sarah Bassing

Jennifer Brown

Ash Cable

T.J. Clark

Kyle Dougherty

Kimberly Haab (Aldo Leopold Memorial Scholarship recipient)

Jacob Hubner

Diana Methner

Chris Muller

Anna Nisi

Lindsey Phillips

Roslyn Rivas (Aldo Leopold Memorial Scholarship recipient)

Chloe Wright

Header Image: Fourteen individuals earned travel grants that will help them attend The Wildlife Society’s annual conference. The conference takes place this November in Spokane, Washington. Credit: Ron Reiring