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Celebrating Fellowships

Posted on Apr 3, 2018 by in The OFI Blog |

The following is an excerpt taken from Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute News March 2018 edition.

STRI staff scientists at 2018 Fellowship Meetings. Photo courtesy of Sean Mattson, STRI.

STRI Community Celebrates Fellowships

This is the time of year when scientific staff members return, and fellows from sites around Panama and beyond gather at the Tupper Center in Panama to share projects.

Wed. Feb. 21

STRI scientific staff met to award more than $350,000 in fellowship money. They evaluate a total of 50 proposals– 34 for post-docs, 5 for perdocs and 11 for graduate fellowships.

Congratulations go to Ummat Somjee, who received the prestigious 3-year Tupper postdoctoral fellowship for his proposal, The hidden lives of insects in the wild: uncovering the effects of body size, metabolic rate and behavior in complex social networks.

The other fellowship winners will be formally announced after April 15 when award letters have been sent from the Smithsonian in Washington and acceptances confirmed.

Thurs. Feb. 22

This year the Academic Programs Office decided to add an extra day to the fellowship meetings in the interest of giving folks time to get to know each other better. STRI Communications Office Staff presented a sweeping overview of ongoing projects (blogs, video, exhibits, posters) and advice about effective visuals for presentations and science storytelling in hopes that fellows will contribute their work to STRI’s new web page, which came online this week.

Associate Director for Science Administration, Dr. Oris Sanjur, asked post-doctoral fellow Dr. Nicole Smith-Guzman, staff scientist Drs. Ashley Sharpe and Rachel Page, Emeritus scientist, Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Dr. Sandra Lopez Verges, virologist/immunologist at Panama’s Gorgas Memorial Institute, to host a forum to discuss challenges facing women in science and leadership roles. Each presented information and her own views, followed by a Q&A.

Plenary session speaker, staff scientist emeritus Jeremy Jackson, reviewed his new book, co-authored with Steve Chappele, Breakpoint: Reckoning with America’s Environmental Crises, scheduled to be released on Apr. 17, 2018. The book weaves together research and artful storytelling about the profound connections between environmental and economic crises and provides optimistic and practical solutions and a passionate call to action.

Fri. Feb. 23

A marathon of back-to-back 15-minute talks by 20 fellows featured topics from the ecology of disease-carrying mosquitoes to chemical characterization of herbivore diets and visual systems in reef fish, demonstrating exceptionally high caliber research– as well as a bit of performance art and silliness. Sean Mattson and Jorge Aleman from the Communications Office announced the fellows’ photo contest winners and Jeremy Jackson and Nancy Knowlton presented their award for the best student paper to Catalina Pimiento for her paper published in Nature: The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity.

Both Thurs. and Fri. ended with a poster session, followed by a BBQ on Friday– and general merriment including a pick-up bluegrass concert featuring microbiology and katydid studying post-docs Jordan Kueneman, Sharon Martinson and friends.