At the close of every academic year, SNRE presents awards to members of our community for their contributions toward maintaining a positive and productive environment for our department. Award winners are nominated by fellow SNRErs and selected by the SNRE Awards Committee each spring. A span of 17 total awards seeks to acknowledge members from every facet of SNRE, including students, alumni, staff, faculty, and collaborators.
Photo credit: Monsoon over Aravaipa by Brian Blais
SNRE Award Committee Members:
- Laura Meredith
- Phil Guertin
- Leslie Gunatilaka
- Steve Smith
- Ashley Stewart
- Susan Washko
- Brian Koppy
- Bobby Figarotta
- Kyleigh Sacco
- James Buizer (Chair)
2020 SNRE Award Winners
1. University Friend of SNRE designed to recognize a current university employee who has made significant contributions to the School. Contributions could include fundraising efforts, advice and guidance, increasing the School’s visibility on campus and in the community.
Winner: Matthew Mars
Nominator: Sandy Slovikosky
Dr. Mars is a mentor to many SNRE students, having advised several as graduate students and ready to offer a friendly, listening ear to past students to give advice or enjoy a light-hearted chat. Dr. Mars is a mentor to many SNRE students, having advised several as graduate students and ready to offer a friendly, listening ear to past students to give advice or enjoy a light-hearted chat. He is one of the most student-centered, fun-loving, and approachable professors within CALS.
2. Community Friend of SNRE designed to recognize an individual or organization in the community (not a University employee) who has made significant contributions to the School. Contributions could include fundraising efforts, advice and guidance, increasing the School’s visibility on campus and in the community.
Winner: Lisa Shipek, on behalf of Watershed Management Group
Nominators: Gregg Garfin, Katie Hughes, Phil Guertin, Stuart Marsh
Since 2015, Lisa Shipek, Executive Director of Watershed Management Group (WMG), has worked in collaboration with SNRE faculty and graduate students to co-create and actively shepherd the Water as a platform for Workforce Readiness and Leadership Development, a 100% Engagement program for students.
Since then more than 30 University of Arizona students (more than a dozen SNRE graduate and undergraduate students) have benefited from year-long engagements, in which they develop proficiencies in principles of engagement with the public, green infrastructure principles and implementation techniques, and they gain appreciation for the professional operation of a community-oriented environmental organization.
3. Diversity and Inclusion designed to recognize individuals that foster inclusive and welcoming environments on campus and/or at the department level. The individual's professional and service activities should reflect the School's commitment to addressing contemporary issues related to diversity and inclusion.
Winner #1: Melissa Merrick
Nominators: Sallie Hejl, Don Falk, Elise Gornish, Melanie Culver
Melissa Merrick is passionate about inclusivity. She wants everyone in our department to be appreciated, heard, and valued. She has been the backbone of the SNRE Inclusive Excellence Committee since the beginning. She was a key participant in making a student meet and greet happen and in getting the word out. The purpose of the meet and greet was largely to encourage more student participation in the Committee and provide a place for student voices to be heard.
Melissa recognized early on that we needed to create a venue where people could speak out openly and honestly about experiences that are uncomfortable to discuss in an open identified forum. An online tool she created has evolved over time to become the primary way that the Committee collects and synthesizes concerns about diversity and inclusion issues on the part of the SNRE community.
Winner #2: Michael Bogan
Nominators: Bob Steidl and Dave Breshears
Michael brings a sincere spirit of diversity and inclusivity to all of his activities. In addition to maintaining a culturally and ethnically diverse research group, since 2016 Michael has served as faculty advisor for the UA chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), a group that works to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusivity in STEM fields.
Michael embodies and advances SNRE's commitment to all issues related to diversity and inclusion, personally and professional, both on and off campus, and advertises his office as a safe space for open communication and diverse perspectives.
4. Outstanding Thesis is awarded to a Masters student who has excelled in all phases of their degree program. This award recognizes both the student's achievement and the advisor's contribution.
Winner: Mariana Rivera-Torres
Nominator: Susan Washko
Mariana's thesis in Water, Society & Policy was simply incredible. She reached many audiences with her work, was extremely thorough digging through reports and interviewing stakeholders, and included cultural aspects of stakeholder processes that are often overlooked. Mariana's thesis included recommendations for future conversations that are extremely valuable and will undoubtedly be used by countless river management efforts in the future.
5. Outstanding Dissertation is awarded to a Doctoral student who has excelled in all phases of their degree program. This award recognizes both the student's achievement and the advisor's contribution.
Winner: Amy Hudson
Nominators: David Moore, Valerie Trouet, Dave Breshears
Dissertation Title: Spatio-temporal patters of jet stream influence on phenology; Jan 30, 2020
Winner of numerous awards, including the McGinnies Scholarship ($5,000) Spring 2019, the
UA College of Science Galileo Circle Scholarship ($2,500) Spring 2018, and the Carson Scholar and Biosphere2 Fellowship ($5,000) Spring 2017 – Fall 2017, to name just a few.
Amy’s work is fundamental to global, regional and local planning for natural resource planning. Her dissertation links global atmospheric circulation patterns to variation in when and where phenological events are triggered. Her work 1) builds the case for linking climate patterns to tree growth 2) demonstrates the effectiveness of atmospheric circulation patterns on leaf phenology and 3) applies this knowledge to create a framework for the conservation of the iconic Monarch butterfly. Amy’s work at UArizona has led to NINE publications with two more in the final stages of submission.
6. Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by a Student recognizes an outstanding original contribution to the body of scientific knowledge by a current undergraduate or graduate student
Winner: Susan Washko
Nominator: Dave Breshears
Global Patterns of Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Dispersal and Functional Feeding Traits in Aridland Rock Pools, S Washko & MT Bogan (2019) Environ. Sci.
Susan Washko and Michael Bogan produced an outstanding "Mini Review" on why rock pools are important desert ecosystems that provide rare sources of surface water in arid regions. The work demonstrates how very general insights can be gleaned even when the extent of published studies is limited. Their work reveals global insights on important trophic interactions of aquatic invertebrates in ephemeral rock pools. It has been identified as a work that will be used in future classes of Principles of Research to highlight what can be achieved in the format they used.
7. Student Leadership recognizes exceptional effort put forth by an undergraduate student or a graduate student in providing leadership to other SNRE students.
Winner #1: Brandon Mayer
Nominator: Cameron Burleson and Sandy Slovikosky
Brandon has been actively engaged with the SNRE clubs ever since he finished his undergrad. In addition to serving two terms as VP for UAFWS in the past, he has been an indispensable source of advice to many future officer teams. He stepped up as a co-advisor for Tierra Seca this past school year. He helped the group formulate a permanent budget that can serve as a baseline for all future club years.
Brandon is one of the “behind the scenes” people who goes unnoticed, yet without whom club leadership would have more difficulty fundraising, increasing club participation and conference attendance, and transitioning into officer positions.
Winner #2: Cameron Burleson
Nominators: Sandy Slovikosky and Adam Takashi Naito
Tierra Seca has thrived over the past several years and as VP, Cameron has played a huge role in its success. During Tierra Seca meetings she is quick to jump in and give input where needed, as well as to address questions and concerns of members.
Cameron is loved and appreciated by her colleagues within TS. This is unsurprising considering she treats them as family in addition to serving as a leader to them, never elevating herself above them but instead seeing the value in every member and recognizing their contributions. She exemplifies the best of what students in SNRE and CALS offer, and she sets a standard for a new generation of scientists and individuals dedicated to improving our environment.
8. Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by a Faculty Member recognizes an outstanding original contribution to the body of scientific knowledge by any faculty affiliated with SNRE.
Winner: Rachel Gallery
Nominator: Dave Breshears
Ecological and genomic attributes of novel bacterial taxa that thrive in subsurface soil horizons. 2019. The published Importance statement clearly provides rationale for the justification of the nomination "Soil profiles are rarely homogeneous. Resource availability and microbial abundances typically decrease with soil depth, but microbes found in deeper horizons are still important components of terrestrial ecosystems….Deeper soils harbored communities distinct from those of the more commonly studied surface horizons…Simply digging deeper into soil can reveal a surprising number of novel microbes with unique adaptations to oligotrophic subsurface conditions."
9. Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by Research Staff & PostDocs recognizes an outstanding original contribution to the body of scientific knowledge by research staff or PostDoc affiliated with SNRE.
Winner #1: Patrick Broxton
Nominators: Gregg Garfin, Wim van Leeuwen, Kangsan Lee, Jeremy Weiss, Kyle Hartfield, Stuart Marsh, Joel Biederman
In the past year, Dr. Patrick Broxton was lead author on 2 and co-author on 3 peer-reviewed papers related to the estimation of snowpack in the semiarid United States (Google Scholar). This body of work constitutes a substantial contribution to scientific knowledge of a resource of inestimable value to the tens of millions of residents of our thirsty region. We shine a light on Dr. Broxton’s 2020 lead-authored paper, Forest cover and topography regulate the thin, ephemeral snowpacks of the semiarid Southwest United States, published in the journal Ecohydrology, with co-authors WJD van Leeuwen and JA Biederman
Snow trend analysis results using these data were highlighted in press releases by UA News and AGU and were mentioned by various media outlets including the New York Times, Tucson Daily Star, Wired Magazine, Pinal Central, Cronkite News, Arizona Public Media.
Winner #2: Katie Predick
Nominator: Steve Archer and Don Falk
Over the years, Katie’s sustained excellent research is the reason for this award. She has Contributed to the development of 3 successful USDA proposals and 1 successful NSF proposal totaling $1.8 M; Published in the Journal of Ecology, Rangelands, the J. Arid Environments, and co-authored several invited and highly-acclaimed book chapter syntheses. She performed an analyses of long-term National Park Service databases and developed a global database for a meta-analysis of woody plant proliferation in grasslands, which holds the potential to be a landmark product.
Additionally, she has co-instructed since 2015 and was instrumental in the successful redesign of RNR 200 (i) for an on-line offering and (ii) to meet Tier 2 qualifications. These substantial undertakings have benefitted SNRE; Katie’s contributions were invaluable.
Katie’s sustained year-in, year-out contributions to the foundational “behind the scenes” facets of research and teaching have been invaluable. Her project management skills and attention to detail are first-rate and ensure that the many dimensions and moving parts of the Archer Lab run smoothly. We are fortunate to have an individual of Katie’s abilities in SNRE.
10. Outstanding Course recognizes a course that is deemed excellent based on being current, comprehensive, challenging, well-taught, and highly regarded by both faculty and students.
Winner: Jeff Fehmi: RAM 456 Rangeland Inventory and Monitoring
Nominators: Cameron Burleson, Jacob Brown, Brian Koppy
“RAM 456 was definitely a favorite class by everyone who took it. We all feel as though this class has given us the most important skills that we will need as future rangeland managers. Field trips really allowed us to practice different monitoring techniques and everyone always left feeling confident to complete the technique in a job. We now know how to go to a piece of land and which techniques to use to answer the questions we want answered. It was a truly valuable class and Dr. Fehmi's instruction style maximized our learning experience.”
11. Outstanding Faculty Member recognizes an individual faculty member who personifies the ideals of outstanding teaching, advising, research, and service.
Winner #1: Donald Falk
Nominator: Erana Taylor
Don Falk is an outstanding faculty member because he goes far beyond what is required of him in the realms of mentoring, teaching, and public engagements. This includes providing truly exceptional course material and student engagement in his restoration ecology and wildland fire courses, as well as spending long unbroken hours mentoring his grad students. He is constantly thinking of his students when he comes across and forwards new opportunities to them, and Don always approaches doing work for students (such as writing seemingly endless letters of recommendation) with a positive and welcoming attitude.
In the field Don is always polite and informative to his students, unflaggingly answering multitudes of questions with detail-oriented and well-thought-out replies.
Winner #2: Melanie Culver
Nominator: Sandy Slovikosky
Melanie exemplifies the ideals of service and prioritizing her students’ success. When I was in high school, she mentored me on my first wildlife research project that culminated in several award-winning poster presentations at the local and state science fairs, giving me a head start upon entering college. Very few people who would have taken this amount of time for a high schooler with no prior education in wildlife sciences, but Melanie is clearly the exception and it speaks strongly for her student-centered focus. She maintains a flexible class schedule to prioritize her students’ needs, which is all the more impressive considering how much she has on her plate.
12. Staff Award of Excellence recognizes unusual dedication and outstanding contributions by a classified staff member
Winner: Lynn Frazier
Nominators: Theresa Crimmins, Alyssa Rosemartin, LoriAnne Barnett, Sara Schaffer, Erin Posthumus
Lynn is incredibly committed to our department and the broader CALS community. She pours her heart into her work and goes to great lengths to ensure our proposal opportunities have the best chances of success. She is always patient, supportive, and extremely competent. She leaves no stones unturned on paperwork often working late into the night and on the weekends to ensure all aspects of proposals are addressed. We are so fortunate to have such a skilled and dedicated member of our team - Lynn is one of the many reasons SNRE is fantastic!
In one team member's words: "Lynn is extremely patient and has a knack for explaining complicated grant requirements and budget numbers in a clear and helpful way. She works extremely hard to help us meet grant deadlines and will even work past the normal quitting time to ensure that each piece of a grant is done correctly. She has great attention to detail and has caught many little mistakes in our proposals. Despite juggling countless grant proposals with competing deadlines, Lynn is always gracious and kind and makes us feel as though we are her top priority. "
13. Outstanding Student Assistant recognizes the contributions of a student assistants for their contributions and commitment to SNRE.
Winner #1: Allie Burnett
Nominator: Sandy Slovikosky
Allie has helped SNRE succeed in a number of ways, including managing the SNRE website and writing the newsletter, participating in the Inclusive Excellence Committee, presenting at conferences, and representing the UA on the board of The Wildlife Society International Wildlife Management Working Group. These are all impressive feats on top of her graduate studies. Despite having so much on her plate, Allie does it all with a positive attitude and commitment to serving her community in a people-centered fashion. She is willing to offer a helping hand where needed and is a joy to be around!
Winner #2: Tzirel Hanan Leiser
Nominator: Adam Takashi Naito
TZ has been an undergraduate field technician since September of 2019 as part of a long-term ecological research project investigating the long-term impacts of brush control on a variety of ecosystem services on southern Arizona rangelands. The research will help us better determine whether brush control is ecologically useful as a management tool.
TZ assists with data collection in the field and sample processing in a laboratory environment. Over the past eight months, she has logged nearly 60 hours in the field and in the lab. The majority of these hours in the field were often under oppressive conditions (high temperatures exceeding 35°C and dense shrub, cactus, and grass cover) while executing tedious and repetitive field sampling protocols. Despite these conditions, TZ: 1) always maintained a positive attitude throughout the day, 2) learned sampling protocols or plants quickly, 3) demonstrated her ability to work independently and in a group, and 4) anticipated the needs of the group and took initiatives accordingly.
She exemplifies the best of a new generation of aspiring researchers and brings a diverse portfolio of experiences and perspectives.
14. Public Service and Outreach Award recognizes individuals for outstanding public service through professional contributions that go beyond their university-related responsibilities.
Winner: Elise Gornish
Nominators: Gregg Garfin, Larry Howery, Don Falk
Dr. Gornish is the founder and director of Girls on outdoor Adventure for Leadership and Science (GALS). This program is free to high school girls from the Tucson area and was conceived to address the gap in female minorities in STEM degrees and outdoor activities. The first cadre of GALS participants “highly recommended” the program. Dr. Gornish has also been involved in leading several other groups that promote inclusion and diversity in science.
Dr. Gornish has also been recognized by her peers for her significant contributions and she certainly has garnered real respect as evidenced by her being elected Vice President of the Society of Ecological Restoration Southwest Chapter (2018-present), named an Early Career Fellow of the Ecological Society of America (2019 – Present), and a Tucson Public Voices Fellow by the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona.
These service roles all reflect her commitment to public service and outreach, in Arizona and the Southwest region, and in a way that reflects the very best that SNRE has to offer to society.
15. Outstanding Alumnus recognizes the contributions of one of our graduates through professional or civic work.
Winner: Dr. Jason P. Field Sr. Research Specialist, University of Arizona PhD, Natural Resources, Watershed Management and Ecohydrology Program; 2009 Differential response of wind and water erosion under climatic extremes and alternate land management practices
Nominator: Dave Breshears
Research Specialist, University of Arizona PhD, Natural Resources, Watershed Management and Ecohydrology Program; 2009 Differential response of wind and water erosion under climatic extremes and alternate land management practices
Dr. Field has built on his excellent dissertation work to become a broadly trained and contributing multi-disciplinary environmental scientist. Dr. Field’s contributions over the past decade are nothing short of outstanding.
Dr. Field has distinguished himself extremely well the type of multi-disciplinary researcher. The scientific impact of his work is reflected in his Google Scholar citations: more than 1400 citations with six publications with >100 citations each.
16. International Collaboration recognizes outstanding efforts by SNRE faculty, staff or students to foster international collaboration. This award recognizes SNRE individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the body of scientific knowledge through collaboration with researchers in another country, and who through this collaboration have led to improved resource management strategies or practices in that country
Winner: John Koprowski
Nominator: Sandy Slovikosky
Dr. Koprowski understands the importance of immersion in international cultures and strives to give his students a picture of what natural resources management is like outside the United States. He values international learning experiences as critical components to a student’s education. This is perhaps no more evident than within his own lab group, which is composed of a diversity of students from different nationalities, cultures, and languages. Many of these conduct research in other countries. Not only has he established partnerships with many institutions around the globe (a recent one being in Mongolia), hence increasing SNRE’s global visibility, but he has also incorporated international perspectives into his lectures.
He also recently published a book as co-editor on international wildlife management and was accepted into The Linnean Society of London. The recent $1 million donation to his lab group to continue funding international conservation efforts says it all: he is known and trusted in global conservation work.
17. "Blooper" recognizes a humorous, embarrassing, or ironic occurrence to a member of the School. This is intended as a light-hearted and good-natured award to entertain members of the School at the expense of some unfortunate soul.
Winner #1: Kinzie Bailey
Nominator: Susan Washko (she has class at this time so cannot present)
“Kinzie was going to AGU this past December and thought her flight was at 6am, but really it was at 6pm. She had breakfast at the airport and waited at the gate alone until she realized there was no plane and she had 12 hours before she needed to leave. I picked her up and took her home so she could nap before her actual flight. At least she got to have breakfast with the postdoc in her lab before leaving, it's a sign of great lab camaraderie to meet up for airport breakfast at the crack of dawn when you don't have a flight!”
Winner #2: To be presented by Jia Hu