The Interfaces of Global Change IGEP awards four 12-month Ph.D. fellowships every academic year, each covering tuition and stipend. These graduate research assistantships are awarded based on the student’s professional credentials, the student’s level of engagement in the IGC IGEP, pertinence of the student’s research to global change, the interdisciplinary nature of the work, and the student’s plan for using the one-year fellowship.

Congratulations to the following recipients of this year’s IGC Fellowships!


Stephen DeVilbiss

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

Noah McNeill

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

Amanda Pennino

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

Isaac VanDiest

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

Brenen Wynd

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