Plenary Session I – 2020 Student Award Speakers


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The 2019 recipient of the William T. Hornaday award is Clayton Lamb, a PhD candidate, Vanier Scholar, and Weston Fellow at The University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He works at the interface of population ecology, carnivore-human co-existence, and wildlife management. His research focuses on identifying the causes and consequences of changes in mammalian populations, using diverse species such as pika, wolverine, and grizzly bear. Clayton currently has more than 15 peer-reviewed publications and several other reports and non-peer-reviewed articles. Some of his work has been used to support high-profile conservation efforts, such as an IUCN assessment of brown bears, a true testament to the quality of their research.  It is worth noting that Clayton was independently nominated by multiple groups, further proof that his work is making an impact.


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The 2019 recipient of the Albert R. and Alma Shadle award is Katie Stanchak of the University of Washington. Ms. Stanchak has published mammal research in EvolutionJournal of Biogeography, and the Anatomical Record. She has received support from numerous organizations, including an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant and a Grant-in-aid from the American Society of Mammalogists, and she was twice the recipient of a Washington Research Foundation and Benjamin Hall Graduate Fellowship from the University of Washington. She has been active in outreach at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, where she is a graduate student researcher in the Department of Mammalogy. Ms. Stanchak’s dissertation research is focused on explaining the origin and diversification of a novel skeletal element in bats. This project is inherently integrative, drawing on methods from comparative anatomy, development, biomechanics, and macroevolution. For this work, Ms. Stanchak has been awarded the Karl F. Koopman Award from the North American Society for Bat Research and the Anna M. Jackson Award from ASM. The Shadle Fellowship from ASM will help Ms. Stanchak complete her studies of bat skeletal anatomy and present her research at conferences in the upcoming year.


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Mariah Schlis-Elias recently (December 2019) finished her Master of Science in Biology at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, where she was advised by Dr. Jason Malaney. Mariah is interested in mammalian ecology, especially where it can inform policy decisions that help conserve distinct lineages of species. Her thesis focused on skull size and shape variation of island-dwelling meadow voles to evaluate Island Rule in the organism. Specifically, she tested multiple causal hypotheses of Island Rule, including ecological release and thermoregulation, to determine what factors best explain gigantism in some island populations of meadow voles. Mariah is currently searching for doctoral programs to further her education and pursue her research interests. In the meantime, she is continuing to teach classes at universities in middle Tennessee, taking opportunities to stay involved in research, and enjoying her time volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation clinic and nursery.


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Addison Allen is currently finishing the last year of her Master’s in Biology at the University of Oklahoma in Dr. Hayley Lanier’s lab. Addison’s research concerns the short- and long-term effects of differing fire intervals on small mammal communities in Yellowstone. She focuses on dietary competition and the driving factors of community structure change with respect to succession stage. She is testing the role of competition using long-term mammal community data from sites established after the 1988 Yellowstone fires, which experienced a new set of fires in 2016. Using stable isotope analysis, she is evaluating how shifts in diet and space use between two dominant small mammals (voles and deermice) fit expectations under a competitive exclusion and release model. Following her Master’s, Addison plans to pursue a PhD to continue studying drivers of ecological responses to anthropogenic climate change. She is particularly drawn to integrating species-level interactions into ecosystem processes and contributing to the understanding of how ecosystem functions are impacted by human-caused change.


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Lisa L. Walsh received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan. She was advised by Priscilla Tucker, the 1984 Howell Award recipient. Lisa’s interest in evaluating how humans impact mammals was sparked when she saw a motorboat bounce off a manatee while interning with Save the Manatee Club. Her dissertation sought to better understand factors driving the Virginia opossum’s range expansion. In this research, she used museum specimens from 29 institutions to collect and analyze genetic material and stable isotope values across the opossum’s range. Lisa is passionate about biology education and professional development for instructors. Lisa is a postdoctoral researcher at the Danforth Plant Science Center where she is evaluating how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting STEM faculty and students. 


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Saeideh Esmaeili is finishing a PhD in Ecology at the University of Wyoming under the supervision of Dr. Jake Goheen. Her dissertation is centered on the movements, human dimensions, and conservation of endangered onagers (Equus hemionus onager) in her home country of Iran. She received numerous grants from state and international agencies to conduct the first telemetry study of an herbivore species in the country. Also, she is interested in movement ecology of large herbivores in response to changes in habitat conditions such as availability of forage and water, for which she explored the effect of body size and digestive system on movement of 34 populations of free-ranging equids and ruminants across the globe. She became a member of ASM in 2016 and received two awards of Grant in Aid and Travel Award to present her research at ASM annual meetings. As a member of the IUCN Equid Specialist Group, she would like to follow her career in the field of ecology, conservation, and management of large herbivores, specifically horse populations. She will be pursuing her  interests through working as a postdoctoral fellow on spatial ecology and movement of feral burro and horses at the Colorado State University.