By: Heidi Hertler, PhD

Posted: November 20, 2014
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Staff Post

SFS Students Selected for Forum Award for Tree-Kangaroo Conservation Research in Australia

The Forum on Education Abroad announced the selection of two SFS students, Wesley Hauser and Erin Emmons, as joint recipients of one of two 2014 Undergraduate Research Awards, which recognize excellence in academic work completed by students as part of an education abroad program. Hauser and Emmons’s research, conducted collaboratively during the fall 2013 semester abroad with The School for Field Studies (SFS) in Queensland, Australia, was judged by faculty from Forum member institutions to be among “the best examples of the highest quality academic achievements of undergraduates studying abroad.”

Wesley Hauser, a senior at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Erin Emmons, a senior at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, collaborated on “Putting Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo on the Map: Using Present Distribution to Assess Habitat Requirements and Identify Areas for Further Surveys.” This research also earned them SFS’s bi-annual Distinguished Student Research Awards in February for academic excellence and for reinforcing the research agenda of The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia.

“The Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo is among the most beloved animals in Australia,” said SFS President Jim Cramer. “We are proud that Erin and Wes are being recognized for contributing vital information to the conservation of this endangered species.”

The Forum selected among projects that encompassed a wide variety of fields, demonstrating that international learning informs many academic disciplines. Forum President and CEO Brian Whalen said that “this year the selection committee had a difficult task to select the winners from the over 35 nominations received. These student winners are clearly deserving, and represent the very best of what we want our students to achieve through education abroad.”

“Wes and Erin are mature, very focused and organized students,” noted Wesley and Erin’s faculty advisor, Dr. Sigrid Heise-Pavlov, SFS Professor in Rainforest Ecology. “Based on their enthusiasm to tackle challenges, their persistent work on research projects, their skills to manage and solve problems, their ability to reason and critical thinking, and to effectively collaborate, I fully support their nomination for the Forum on Education Abroad’s Undergraduate Research Award. Both students are very suitable candidates for a future career in scientific research.”

Upon being notified of winning the award, Erin wrote, “I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious award. From the beginning, Wes and I conducted our research under the overarching goal of making an impact on conservation of the Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo. It is incredible to be recognized by the Forum, and to have the opportunity to present at the Forum’s Annual Conference, which will enable us to share information about the species and the implications of our findings in hopes of contributing to conservation efforts on a scale that we never could have imagined.”

Wesley added, “The powers of collaboration, diligence, and community engagement all come into play over the course of my international research experience, and ultimately, I believe these characteristics are necessary for understanding and addressing complex issues. I couldn’t be happier that the Forum on Education Abroad recognizes the collective value of these traits and for the opportunity to share my work again in the future.” .

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Erin and Wesley presented their research to on March 27, 2015 at a plenary luncheon attended by more than 1,400 international education professionals which is a highlight of the Forum’s 11th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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