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GLOBAL CHANGE FELLOWSHIP  |  Global Change Center

With support from the Virginia Tech Graduate School, the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP awards four 9-month Ph.D. assistantships every academic year, intended to support students who have demonstrated commitment to and engagement within the IGC program, and who will benefit from the funding in a way that will enhance the interdisciplinary and global-change aspects of their research. To be eligible to apply for this assistantship, students should have been enrolled in the IGC IGEP for at least 12 months, have not previously received an IGC fellowship award, and be in good academic standing with the IGC Program, their mentor(s), home department, and the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

 

The 2024-25 Global Change Fellowship application deadline is 5 PM EST April 1, 2024.

 

Please direct any questions to Global Change Coordinator, bmwills@vt.edu.

 

To apply for a Global Change Fellowship:  

 

 

Applications will be evaluated by a committee of faculty using an admissions rubric that evaluates the student’s professional credentials, the student’s level of engagement in the IGC IGEP and progress in the curriculum, pertinence of the student’s research to global change, the interdisciplinary nature of the work, and the student’s plan for using the fellowship.

Please pay close attention to the application requirements described below. Incorrectly formatted or incomplete applications will not be considered by the admissions committee.

Application Review Criteria for Fellowship Awards:

  • Applicant’s professional credentials
  • Applicant’s level of engagement in the IGC IGEP, progress in the curriculum, and contributions to inclusion and diversity
  • Pertinence of student’s research to global change
  • The interdisciplinary nature of the work
  • Applicant’s plan for using the fellowship

Applicants should submit the following materials in PDF format, addressed to the IGC Admissions Review Committee, to the IGC/GCC Program Coordinator (bmwills@vt.edu) via email: 

1.   The one-page Cover Sheet

2.   A CV that includes your graduate GPA

3.   A letter of application, not to exceed 2 pages (12 point font), that is divided into 3 sections that address these topics:

  • IGC IGEP Engagement: How has the IGC IGEP advanced your professional development to date, and how have you contributed to the program? How have you contributed to fostering an inclusive and diverse IGC IGEP community?  Also briefly mention how far you have progressed in the IGC IGEP curriculum, to include progress on your capstone project.
  • Research & Policy/Science Communication Statement: What kind of interdisciplinary research are you conducting and how does it relate to global change? How are you employing your IGC IGEP training related to the science-policy interface and/or science communication in your work?
  • Plans for Fellowship Use: How will you use the fellowship to advance your professional development?

4.   A letter of support from the applicant’s graduate mentor, not to exceed 1 page, that explains:

  • The applicant’s progress towards their Ph.D. and notable accomplishments
  • The applicant’s contributions to the IGC IGEP and/or other service-related activities
  • How the applicant’s training will benefit from the fellowship

The faculty letter of support should be sent as a PDF file directly to the GCC Program Coordinator, bmwills@vt.edu.

The student’s application (Items 1-3 above) should be submitted as a single pdf file by e-mail to IGC/GCC Program Coordinator, bmwills@vt.edu. Label files as LAST NAME_GlobalChangeFellowshipApplication_2024.

 

FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS   |   Global Change Center

 

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    Dr. Jonathan Doubek
    Dr. Jonathan Doubek

    Assistant Professor, Lake Superior State University School of Natural Resources & Environment and Center for Freshwater Research and Education | VT Alumni May 2018

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    Dr. Tamara Fetters
    Dr. Tamara Fetters

    Biological Sciences | VT Alumni August 2018

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    Dr. Angie Estrada
    Dr. Angie Estrada

    Director, Summit Municipal Park | VT Alumni November 2019

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    Dr. Maya Wilson
    Dr. Maya Wilson

    Landbird Program Manager at BirdsCaribbean | VT Alumni November 2019,

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    Zach Martin
    Zach Martin

    Ph.D. Candidate | Fish and Wildlife Conservation | Stream habitat management, landscape ecology, reproductive biology of fishes, watershed modeling, spatial modeling

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    Dr. Daniel Medina
    Dr. Daniel Medina

    Resident Lecturer, The School for Field Studies | VT Alumni July 2018

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    Dr. Cathy Jachowski
    Dr. Cathy Jachowski

    Associate Professor, Clemson University, Forestry and Environmental Conservation | VT Alumni August 2016

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    Dr. Gifty Anane-Taabeah
    Dr. Gifty Anane-Taabeah

    Professor, Department of Fisheries and Watershed Management at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana | VT Alumni September 2018

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    Dr. Heather Govenor
    Dr. Heather Govenor

    Senior Risk Assessor, EnSafe, Inc. | VT Alumni December 2017

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    Dr. Derek Hennen
    Dr. Derek Hennen

    Slow the Spread Coordinator, Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services | VT Alumni April 2020

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    Dr. Ben Vernasco
    Dr. Ben Vernasco

    Post Doctoral Fellow, US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station | VT Alumni August 2019

2015 RECIPIENT NOT PICTURED:  Kaan Kerman

2016 RECIPIENTS NOT PICTURED:  Matthew Aberle & Julie Wiemerslage

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    Dr. Felipe Carvalho
    Dr. Felipe Carvalho

    Postdoctoral Associate, Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech | VT Alumni December 2021

  • General Item
    Dr. Ryan McClure
    Dr. Ryan McClure

    Aquatic Ecologist, National Ecological Observatory Network, Inc. | VT Alumni August 2020

  • General Item
    Dr. Brandon Semel
    Dr. Brandon Semel

    Biologist, US Fish & Wildlife Service in Minnesota | VT Alumni February 2021

  • General Item
    Dr. Carl Wepking
    Dr. Carl Wepking

    Research Scientist & Grassland 2.0 Program Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison | VT Alumni August 2018

  • General Item
    Hye-jeong Seo
    Hye-jeong Seo

    Ph.D. Candidate | Public and International Affairs | Environmental risk communication, environmental planning and policy, collaborative planning and decision-making, public participation, public dispute resolution

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    Dr. Kerry Gendreau
    Dr. Kerry Gendreau

    Postdoctoral researcher at University of Heidelberg | VT Alumni May 2022

  • General Item
    Dr. Sam Lane
    Dr. Sam Lane

    NSF PRFB Fellow at North Dakota State University | VT Alumni August 2022

  • General Item
    Dr. Lauren Wind
    Dr. Lauren Wind

    Artificial Intelligence Solutions Architect- Senior Lead Technologist at Booz Allen Hamilton | VT Alumni December 2020

  • General Item
    Dr. Ernie Osburn
    Dr. Ernie Osburn

    Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky | VT Alumni March 2021

  • General Item
    Dr. Nicole Ward
    Dr. Nicole Ward

    Natural Resources Program Supervisor, MN Department of Natural Resources | VT Alumni April 2021

Chloe

Stephen DeVilbiss

PHD CANDIDATE, SCHOOL OF PLANT AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Stephen’s dissertation research addresses the impacts of freshwater salinization on bacterial water quality and ecology. Increased salt runoff in freshwater systems is caused by numerous global change issues including agriculture, resource extraction, urbanization, and climate change. While salinization impairs freshwater ecosystems, the activities causing it are vital to human wellbeing; thus, it is not feasible to eliminate the production and use of salts in the environment. Given the wicked nature of this issue, it is critical to identify target salinity ranges that preserve ecosystem services and inform smarter salt management strategies that consider water quality, ecosystem services, and societal needs.
Advised by Drs. Brian Badgley and Meredith Steele
Girl

Noah McNeill

PHD CANDIDATE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Noah studies the foraging behavior of brown-headed nuthatches, and the situational drivers that cause them to join large and diverse multi-species flocks during the non-breeding season. His study site is the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejune (MCBL), which is required via the Department of Defense to conserve biodiversity on federal property. By working with MCBL wildlife management to incorporate non-breeding season factor’s into the base’s management plan, he hopes to create an interdisciplinary framework for analyzing and managing bird habitat that can be utilized by other federal properties across the pine savanna region of the southeast.
Advised by Dr. Jeffrey Walters
Girl

Amanda Pennino

PHD STUDENT, FOREST RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
Amanda’s work is focused on soil-water interactions in northeast hardwood forests, looking at how soil water chemistry changes across time, with depth, and along hillslopes. Her research site is located at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF), located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Through the use of multiple sampling techniques, Amanda is exploring what climatic and local environmental controls might influence shifts in soil water chemistry, particularly around precipitation events. She hopes that her work will contribute to long-term data records at HBEF, a Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network site, where her data will complement ongoing studies of mineral weathering rates, recovery of forests to acid deposition, and upslope controls on stream water chemistry.
Advised by Drs. Brian Strahm and Kevin McGuire
Girl

Isaac VanDiest

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Isaac is interested in understanding how community dynamics impact an individual’s physiology and fitness. His research specifically focuses on how urbanization alters arthropod communities and may therefore compromise songbird physiology and fitness. Urbanization is expanding world-wide and understanding its consequences for wildlife and ecosystem function requires thinking and working across levels of biological organization. Isaac selected his dissertation topic because he believes strong conservation plans require thinking about effects of environmental change from the perspectives of physiology, behavioral ecology, organismal biology, community ecology, and ecosystem processes.
Advised by Dr. Kendra Sewal
Man

Brenen Wynd

PHD STUDENT, GEOSCIENCES
Brenen’s research bridges the gaps between the extant and the extinct by using microevolutionary methods applied to macroevolutionary timescales, particularly during periods of extensive global change. He currently aims to reconstruct the evolutionary diet of 41 species of living and long dead species of lemurs, to reveal not only the evolutionary history of lemur diet, but also patterns of extinction and how surviving lemurs have adapted to human-driven changes to the landscape. Although in decline, lemurs are a charismatic species and relatively well-known to the general public. This he aims to expand public interest in both lemurs and evolution by building outreach tools to share with the public how morphology influences ecology and how these together influence extinction.
Advised by Dr. Sterling Nesbitt
Chloe

Chloe Moore

PHD CANDIDATE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Chloe is interested in disentangling the processes underlying patterns of biodiversity and identifying why species occur where they do to improve biodiversity conservation efforts. Conservation is often aimed at protecting habitat that encompasses a high number of co-occurring species, or high species richness. To capture a more accurate and wholistic understanding of organismal variation, she is comparing the spatial distribution of anuran (frog and toad) species richness, life history diversity, and phylogenetic diversity both independently and in relation to each other across the US. Chloe is also working to characterize the environmental drivers of multifaceted biodiversity patterns to further tease apart underlying processes creating an area’s diversity, and will compare identified patterns across facets with US protected areas to assess how well biodiversity, beyond species richness, is conserved. Examining these three facets incorporates concepts and methods from evolutionary biology, community ecology, biogeography, and traits-based ecology, and will improve understanding of why anurans occur where they do and can help inform more comprehensive and multidimensional conservation.
Advised by Dr. Meryl Mims
Girl

Sara Teemer Richards

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Working at the nexus of disease ecology, behavioral ecology and microbiology, Sara’s research investigates the role of the host microbiome and its influence of disease transmission at the population level. Despite the recently demonstrated importance of behavior in driving disease spread, we still know little about what behaviors matter for infectious disease spread in non-human animals and how those change with environmental factors. Sara’s work uses a UV-detected, fluorescent powder contact tracing method to reveal links between environmental factors (such as ambient air temperature), behavior, and contact rates in a wildlife host system subject to outbreaks of a deadly infectious disease – House finches and seasonal outbreaks of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum. Understanding the nuances of these effects on even one disease can give insight to many more, especially when considered in the context of a rapidly changing world.
Advised by Dr. Dana Hawley
Girl

Luciana Pereira

PHD STUDENT, FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
Luciana’s research integrates ecology, genetics and conservation to examine exploitation and habitat degradation of Amazonian fish species.  She is studying the migration of two Amazonian species ofcatfish, Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum and P. tigrinum. These catfishes are threatened by widespread illegal fishing and construction of hydropower dams that block their migratory movements, but are under-studied species. Luciana is investigating two questions: What is the migration ecology of P. tigrinum and P. fasciatum, and do they present homing behavior?  Her findings will be shared with stakeholders to inform the migration patterns and critical habitats used by the catfish with aims to influence laws that prevent overfishing and guide site construction of dams, thus aiding to develop science-based policies to sustainably manage and conserve these catfish.
Advised by Drs. Leandro Castello and Eric Hallerman
Girl

Meredith Semel

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Meredith’s research investigates the influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors on lemur social behavior, movement, stress physiology, and conservation planning with a focus on the critically endangered golden-crowned sifaka, Propithecus tattersalli. Working with collaborators, she has already achieved extensive data collection, educational outreach activities and wildlife management influence in communities of Madagascar. The Global Change Fellowship will support Meredith’s ambition to take on three new projects: 1) Working with a post-doc collaborator at Duke University to investigate the gut microbiome of the golden-crowned sifaka, to better understand lemur habitat variation; 2) Working with collaborators at James Madison University and Virginia Tech to design specialty housing for the GPS collars she developed that will aid in remotely studying lemur behavior and tracking; and 3) continuing local outreach efforts in Madagascar, working with a team of Malagasy students, local guides and educators, and community members to provide training and support of educational and agro-forestry activities for the local communities.
Advised by Dr. Ignacio Moore

2022 Fellow - Camilo Alfonso

2022 Fellow - Camilo Alfonso

Camilo Alfonso

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Camilo's research investigates the relationship between stress hormones and fitness in tropical birds with polygynous mating systems. The purpose of his research is to address if habitat degradation is a possible cause for the decreasing of bird populations, which are topics framed in the IGC goals. As an IGC fellow, Camilo hopes to interact with researchers from other fields to improve his communication skills, so his research has a broader impact in the public since he is aware enacting changes based only on scientific results are impossible.
Advised by Dr. Ignacio Moore
 

2022 Fellow - Joshua Mouser

2022 Fellow - Joshua Mouser

Joshua Mouser

PHD STUDENT, FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
Joshua’s research is broadly focused on the conservation of stream ecosystems using a landscape perspective to address global change issues such as habitat loss and pollution. His current research on agricultural conservation practice effectiveness combines his passion for understanding and protecting stream ecosystems with his background growing up on his family’s cattle farm. Joshua’s participation as an IGC Fellow has solidified his interest in a future career as a professor at a research university and simultaneously expanded his interest in shaping policy, which will motivate his future research program.
Advised by Dr. Paul Angermeier

2022 Fellow - Sam Silknetter

2022 Fellow - Sam Silknetter

Sam Silknetter

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Sam's research focuses on the relationships between species traits and population genetic structure within the framework of hydrologically variable stream networks. Sam works to examine landscape genetic/genomic relationships of aquatic insects as part of an NSF-funded macrosystems ecology team, StreamCLIMES. The goal of this collaborative research project is to understand how intermittent stream hydrology affects biodiversity across the aridity gradient that exists in the southern United States. Sam believes the collaborative nature of his research project aligns well with the goals of the IGC fellowship program. 
Advised by Dr. Meryl Mims

2022 Fellow - Emma Bueren

2022 Fellow - Emma Bueren

Emma Bueren

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Emma is researching interactions between pathogens and the honey bee microbiome through the lens of disease ecology. This field explores how factors ranging from climate to host immunity impact the spread and severity of infectious diseases. As an IGC Fellow Emma hopes to broaden her understanding of the ecological changes caused by human activity, and in particular, how those changes can contribute to infectious disease outbreaks. She is also looking forward to continuing to build her science communication skills, and learning more about how science can inform policy.
Advised by Dr. Lisa Belden
 

Spring 2023 Fellow - Caleb O'Brien

2022 Fellow - Sam Silknetter

Caleb O'Brien

PHD STUDENT, FOREST RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
Caleb recieved a fellowship for the spring 2023 semsester. For his doctoral research, Caleb is working on an Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Research in Service to Practice project that tracks how eight communities across the United State are grappling with the complex challenges of adapting to climate change. He is deeply interested in the linkages among science, society and the environment and in the ways communication can enhance or corrode those connections. 
Advised by Dr. Marc Stern

Prashasti Agarwal

PHD STUDENT, SCHOOL OF PLANT & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Prashasti's research aims to unravel the relationships between different aspects of plant diversity (species richness and functional trait diversity) and soil microbiome diversity, the mechanisms driving these relationships, and whether these interactions can be integrated into crop diversification at the ecosystem level. And if so, do these intentionally designed plant mixtures bring about quantifiable improvements in agroecosystem benefits. This new knowledge emerging from her research will provide us with tangible ways to employ the desired soil microbiome to enhance ecosystem functioning and agricultural sustainability, especially in the face of climate change. 
Advised by Dr. Jacob Barney and Dr. Brian Badgley

Amanda Darling

PHD STUDENT, CIVIL & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING
Amanda's research has largely been focused on investigations into the intersection of environmental engineering and public health and serving local and global communities through research on safe water and sanitation. Building on the interdisciplinary nature of environmental engineering in relation to public health and global change, her ongoing and proposed research combines knowledge of sewer infrastructure dynamics and epidemiological principles to fill health data gaps in parts of rural Appalachia, where baseline data on infectious disease prevalence and exposure risks are limited. In future work, she hopes to further investigate approaches to mitigate environmental exposures to contaminants in drinking water.
Advised by Dr. Alasdair Cohen

Bailey Howell

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Bailey's research strives to predict modern adaptive responses to urbanization by studying the legacy of macroevolutionary history.  For the final chapter of her dissertation, she will be exploring different ways to account for evolutionary history in traits using machine learning methods. These methods will rely on publicly available trait and climate databases, as well as citizen science initiatives and land use maps to classify urban tolerance. She will use machine learning algorithms to make predictions across all lizards trained on the phylogenetic history of these organisms. These predictions could be used to determine if species will be vulnerable to urban development or other aspects of global change influencing urban evolution in the future. Similar methods could predict the invasive ability of a species which would be useful to inform policy. 
Advised by Dr. Josef Uyeda

Macy Kailing

PHD STUDENT, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Macy's research looks into the importance of host demography and life history in determining transmission and impacts of a novel fungal pathogen of bats. Macy primarily studies how the impacts of wildlife disease are mediated by host life history strategies, which requires collaborations with individuals beyond her discipline and stakeholders with varying objectives. This includes partners at a genomics laboratory that processes field samples, state wildlife managers that permit data collection and enact policies, and landowners that allow access to their resources. Macy's work in disease ecology directly relates to increases in pathogen emergence globally. She has been able to broaden the scope and impact of her research in infectious disease by applying her expertise both in the context of biodiversity conservation and public health. 
Advised by Dr. Kate Langwig