The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program recently announced its 2016 awardees, and three of the recipients are Colorado College biology majors, all of whom graduated magna cum laude. Receiving the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships are Kristen Wells ’13, Phoebe Parker-Shames ’13, and Isabel Jones ’12. Additionally, six recent CC alumni received honorable mentions.
“These individuals are wonderful examples of students with exceptional skills, motivation, and creativity,” says Brian Linkhart, associate professor of organismal biology and ecology. “Their research interests were sparked and nurtured through CC’s unique brand of faculty support and mentoring, and they have propelled themselves into amazing opportunities after leaving CC.”
Wells is in the life sciences–genetics program at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. She graduated magna cum laude with distinction with a Bachelor of Arts in biology. Distinction at Colorado College requires the completion and presentation of a thesis. Wells was awarded the Mary Alice Hamilton Award for outstanding biology major, William C. Champion Prize for outstanding organic chemistry student, and the Frank Henry John Figge Award for outstanding leadership in the Pre-Health Club.
Parker-Shames received the James Enderson Award in Conservation Biology in 2013. The award honors a biology major who shows commitment and productivity in an original research project in conservation biology. Following graduation from CC, Parker-Shames worked as a research assistant for Kay Holekamp’s spotted hyena research in Maasai Mara, Kenya, assisting graduate students with behavioral and ecological research. She plans to attend UC Berkeley in the Environmental Science Policy and Management Department, most likely working on a project focusing on the ecology and conservation of predators in human-impacted landscapes.
Jones is a first-year Ph.D. student at Stanford University in the ecology and evolution track in the biology department. She did an honors thesis on the breeding ecology of flammulated owls after working on Linkhart’s field crew while at CC and spent a summer working on a student-faculty collaborative research grant from the NSF for mathematical biology. “My summer research positions greatly helped launch me into graduate school,” Jones says. Jones was the recipient of the 2012 Richard and Reba Beidleman Award, which is presented to the student showing the greatest potential for becoming a professional ecologist or field biologist. Since graduation she has worked at the University of Colorado—Boulder studying disease ecology, specifically diseases affecting amphibians, which are of high conservation concern, and at a microbiology startup in the San Francisco area.
Those receiving honorable mentions are Devon Cole ’13, geology; Skye McClure Greenler ’14, cum laude biology; Kyle Seewald Hemes ’11, magna cum laude environmental science; Jon Jacob Kirksey ’15, economics and education; Kira Olsen ’11, cum laude geology; and Kathryn Louise Reichard ’12, cum laude biology.
The NSF received close to 17,000 applications this year, and made 2,000 award offers. Its Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.