Emmons ’15 Receives Award for Tree-Kangaroo Habitat Research Conducted in Australia

March 20th, 2014 by 

Erin Emmons ’15, a biology major at the College of the Holy Cross, has received a School for Field Studies Distinguished Student Research Award for work she did while studying abroad in Australia during the fall semester.

Emmons, of Rockville Centre, N.Y., shares the award with research partner Wes Hauser of Wabash College while working at the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in northeastern Queensland. The students used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to focus on the habitat of the Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo.

Their research resulted in two papers: “Putting Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo on the map: Using present distribution to assess habitat requirements and identify areas for further surveys,” and “Assessment of the Distribution and Habitat Requirements for Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo Using Spatial Analytical Tools in ArcGIS.” The project significantly contributes to the center’s ongoing five-year research plan by addressing one of the center’s key research issues: understanding social and ecological systems.

Each year, the SFS honors its most exceptional students with Distinguished Student Research Awards for their important contributions in environmental research. SFS students engage in undergraduate research guided by faculty projects related to each of the seven research center’s individual research plans. Outcomes of the research projects provide information and recommendations to community members and other stakeholders on critical, local environmental issues.

Students are nominated by SFS faculty based on their demonstrated sophistication in research design, field work, reporting and their contribution to the center’s research plan. The SFS award also recognizes the students’ leadership exhibited while working with teams of students and faculty researchers in the field.

“I am extremely honored and excited to receive this prestigious award from SFS,” said Emmons. Experiences like this have shaped her desire to continue to be involved in research. She hopes to enter the biomedical field following graduation.

At Holy Cross, Emmons conducts research in the biology department, where she also serves as a teaching assistant, and is involved in liturgical ministry, the Magis program for church leadership, and Student Programs for Urban Development. She is also active in Relay for Life and Alternate College Theatre.

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