2021 College of Natural Resources & University of Idaho Awardees
CNR Outstanding Student Awards
Overall Outstanding CNR Graduate Student
Jyoti S. Jennewein recently completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Natural Resources. Her dissertation focused on using remote sensing to study the resilience and vulnerability of Alaskan moose and their habitat to ongoing environmental change as a part of the NASA Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE). Her work is published in Movement Ecology and Science and highlighted by the National Park Service on their website. Jyoti was awarded a National Science Foundation GK-12 science communication fellowship, served as a teaching assistant for three classes, and worked in a variety of roles for the North Idaho Confluence Project.
In addition to her work as a Ph.D. student, she simultaneously worked as a Hydrologic Technician for the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station for five years. She landed a prestigious postdoctoral research position with the United States Department of Agriculture, which started in late 2020. Jyoti also volunteered as a board member and Communications Director for the Idaho Environmental Education Association nonprofit and played a major role in coordinating the 2018 Environmental Education Conference.
Overall Outstanding CNR Undergrad Student
Lydia Druin is the recipient of two awards: the Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the College of Natural Resources, and in Ecology and Conservation Biology. Lydia is a talented, creative, hardworking, and passionate student, and a genuine pleasure to work with as well. She has been very involved in undergraduate research here at the University, including working with me and Dr. Lisette Waits on Sitka black-tailed deer ecology, genetics and conservation in Alaska, as well as with Lisette Waits on Jaguar habitat quality in Costa Rica in collaboration with Panthera.
Lydia has presented her research in poster or oral form 6 times, been a part of the university Honors program and Dean’s List, and received a number of competitive awards, fellowships and grants. She’s also given back to the University community, including as a member of the CNR Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and as a member of the Honors Program student advisory board. This spring, she will graduate, and we know she will go on to do great things for wildlife and conservation.
Outstanding FWS Ph.D. Student
Stacey Nerkowski was co-advised in wish and wildlife sciences biology on her thesis research which focuses on genetic monitoring of the endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit. Stacey has worked tirelessly to provide critical data for the adaptive management of this endangered species. Her research excellence has been recognized by a 2020 award for best student presentation at the North American Society for Conservation Biology meetings.
Stacey is also an excellent teacher and has been an inspirational research mentor for 6 undergraduate students. Stacey has represented her classmates as a senator for the Graduate and Professional Students Association and as a student representative for faculty meetings. Her impressive contributions to research, teaching, and service were recently honored with a UI Alumni Award for Excellence. Congratulations Stacey!
Outstanding FWS M.S. Student
Darcy has excelled in every aspect of her program. Her research experience is diverse and productive. She has already published two peer-reviewed manuscripts and has at least four others in the works. She’s given over a dozen presentations on her research at professional meetings and to the public; three of which have received best student presentation awards. She has been incredibly involved with the American Fisheries Society, serving a President of the Palouse Unit of AFS. During that time, she was an outspoken advocate for students across Idaho.
Darcy has also been a mentor to an undergraduate working on an independent research project and has been engaged in the Hutton Program with AFS. Darcy has demonstrated excellence in every aspect of her program and has already made significant, lasting contributions to science and natural resource management. She represents the very best of the department and the university and embodies all of the qualities of an outstanding graduate student.
Outstanding Senior Fishery Resources
Kade is an outstanding undergraduate who excels in the classroom, field, and in the lab. His work ethic is second to none, has an independent thinker, works well with others, and has a great attitude.
Kade has become very involved in the Palouse Unit of AFS where he served as Vice President and later as President. The leadership of PUAFS is typically dominated by graduate students so his role in leadership is quite impressive. This has been a challenging year, but Kade has done an excellent job ensuring that students have opportunities to remain engaged in the Unit. For these reasons and many others, Kade is presented with this award.
Outstanding Senior Wildlife Resources
Chloe is a double major in Fisheries and Wildlife who the wildlife program in 2017 coming all the way from Arkansas. She has excelled academically and as a leader during her time at the University of Idaho. Chloe has served in an important role as a CNR ambassador for 3 years and has been the social media coordinator, Secretary and President of the student chapter of the wildlife society.
Chloe has gained important research experience in wildlife genetics and field work by assisting the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit endangered species program in Washington. She conducted her own independent research on the pygmy rabbits and presented results at multiple professional meetings. During her time at the UI, she has been inducted into 3 honors societies and received an Alumni Award for Excellence. Congratulations Chloe!
Outstanding M.N.R. Graduate Student
Anna completed her graduate degree at the McCall Field Campus. Anna excelled in all aspects of the graduate program, but particularly science communication. She is dedicated to climate change communication and make a strong impact on the community.
Anna worked with the City of McCall to create a baseline carbon inventory and laid the groundwork for the first climate action plan in McCall. She now works as the Seeds of Success’ National Curator, leading the national native seeds collection program.
Outstanding Senior Natural Resources and Society
Toni has been an active part of the CNR community through her involvement in the Environmental Science Club, including roles as treasurer and president of the organization. She has also made great effort to capitalize on field experiences during her time with CNR. Toni coordinate data collection on water quality as a U of I extension outreach intern, aided in the collection of research data on BLM recreation management, and continues to work on environmental safety and water quality management as an intern for the PotlatchDeltic company in her hometown of St. Maries, Idaho.
Toni is a gifted student who is regularly at the top of her class, engages well with fellow students, and serves as a great ambassador for the NRS department through her hard work, passion for environmental issues, and outgoing personality.
Outstanding ENVS Graduate Student
Anil was originally from India and joined University of Idaho in Spring 2018. He has been enthusiastic and dedicated in environmental science and engineering especially in developing advanced and plasma technologies for water and wastewater remediation to benefit the human health and environment.
During Anil’s three- and half-year journey here at UI, Anil worked as a teaching assistant and research assistant, not only excelled every course he took and achieved a 4.0 GPA, but also excelled in his research work which led to seven peer-reviewed articles published in highly ranked journals and several international conference presentations. Anil is a humble gentleman who is always willing to help and a perfect team player. Thank you, Anil for being such an outstanding student and Congratulations!
Outstanding Senior Environmental Science
Hana is an excellent student, with a very high GPA. During her time here at UI, she has served as the vice president of the Climbing Club and has participated in a variety of service activities including as a student representative on the Library committee. Hana has also been employed while an undergrad, practicing and applying her knowledge from the classroom.
She has presented her senior thesis research at several professional conferences and is currently preparing a publication for submission to a peer-reviewed professional journal. Apart from science, Hana also has an artistic side, that she feeds via printmaking. Overall, she is an outstanding individual to have in the lab and classroom.
Outstanding FRFS Graduate Student
Jeff is currently a Ph.D. candidate working with me in the Idaho Terrestrial Ecosystem Modeling Lab. Jeff has been very productive as a Ph.D. student, authoring three publications, including a first-authored paper in the high-impact journal Global Change Biology, one of the most prominent journals in ecosystem sciences. Jeff’s efforts have been instrumental to the success of our research at the UI Experimental Forest that is exploring how forest management, climate, and fire affect carbon sequestration in Idaho’s forests.
Jeff has been active professionally and has been invited to give oral presentations at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting, which is extremely rare for graduate students. Additionally, he has given guest lectures in courses across campus and has developed and served as an instructor for our annual high school teacher workshop at the McCall Outdoor Science School. Jeff is selfless, volunteering significant time to help fellow graduate students with field work for their projects and mentoring a cadre of undergraduate researchers here at U of I.
Outstanding Senior Forestry
Evando is one of our best forestry students academically, having an overall GPA of 3.68, and was the unanimous choice for outstanding senior in forestry by the Forestry faculty. In addition to his strong performance in classroom, Evando has a very strong work ethic and goes above and beyond on assignments and group activities. He has consistently served as a mentor for many of his classmates, including international students at our Forestry Summer Camp.
He is a first-generation college student and has worked summer internships with the Idaho Department of Lands. Evando recently accepted a position as a GS-7 Forester with the Forest Service through their highly competitive Pathways program, a great achievement. With the Forest Service, he is interested in managing forests for various objectives, especially improving wildlife habitat and wildfire resilience.
Outstanding Senior Forest and Sustainable Products
Dan is from Meridian, Idaho, and will be graduating with an overall GPA of 3.80. Dan has been very active during his time here at U of I, working as an intern in the UI Forest and Sustainable Products lab. Dan also completed an undergraduate research project in fall 2020 producing biodiesel from hemp seed oil.
As part of his research, Dan produced the biodiesel and analyzed biodiesel and diesel samples for fuel properties, and distillation profiles. He then worked with Dr. Kamal Kumar in Mechanical Engineering at U of I for the engine testing to determine how the biofuel combusts and analyzed exhaust gases. Dan is very dedicated, curious, and was the unanimous selection of the Forest and Sustainable Products faculty for the outstanding senior award.
Outstanding Senior Rangeland Conservation
Matthan was the unanimous choice of the Rangeland Conservation faculty and is an excellent student, with a very high GPA. During his time here at UI, he has served as the President of the Range Club and been active in a variety of service activities including the Western National Rangeland competition for high school FFA students.
Matthan has also been actively employed while an undergrad practicing and applying his knowledge from the classroom. He has worked as a technician for the National Resources Inventory program, has been a Rangeland Center intern, and has worked at U of I’s Pitkin Forest Nursery. Finally, Matthan is good-natured, hardworking, and respectful of his fellow classmates. It is our pleasure to recognize Matthan’s achievements.
Outstanding Senior Fire Ecology and Management
Originally from Ashland, Oregon, Lars transferred to the University of Idaho after completing an Associate Degree at Central Oregon Community College. Lars is a strong student academically, with an overall GPA of 3.59. He has been very involved in the Student Association of Fire Ecology club both locally and nationally, serving as the National SAFE president for two years and will be wrapping up his undergraduate experience as the local SAFE Vice President.
More than anything Lars create a sense of community wherever he goes. He has a magnetic personality the pulls people together and encourages them to work hard and ask questions. He works officially as a CNR student ambassador and unofficially he represents the University through his social media presence and eagerness to talk wildfire to anyone interested in listening.
CNR Alumni Awards
Honor Alumni Award
Bob Rummer has received the 2021 Honor Alumni Award. This award is bestowed on alumni that have a distinguished career record with international, national, or regional recognition. Bob earned his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Idaho, and his Ph.D. from Auburn University. He currently works as a Research Development Consultant in Boulder, Colorado. Previously, Bob worked as the Director of Forest Operations Research for USFS Southern Research Station, and as the Director of Research Development for the University of Kansas Office of Research.
Carlos Muñoz Brenes
Early-Career Alumni Achievement Award
Carlos Muñoz Brenes has received the 2021 Early-Career Alumni Achievement Award. This award is bestowed on alumni of the past 10 years, making an exceptional career record in natural resources with indications of continued outstanding future attainment. Carlos earned his MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, his MA from Boston College, and his Ph.D. from the University of Idaho in 2017. He is currently working as the Director of Social Science for Conservation International, located in the Washington DC-Baltimore area.
Bridge Builder Award
Erin Brooks has received the 2021 Bridge Builder Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual or group that contributes to substantial and lasting connections to people, units, programs, or departments within CNR. Erin earned his BS from Washington State University in 1993, his MS from the University of Minnesota in 1997, and his PhD from the University of Idaho in 2003. He is currently an Associate Professor and Agricultural Engineer for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences here at the University of Idaho.
J. Andres Soria
Mid-Career Alumni Achievement Award
J. Andres Soria has received the 2021 Mid-Career Alumni Achievement Award. This award is bestowed on alumni of more than 10 years that have achieved a position of leadership with regional or national recognition among natural resource peers. Andres received his PhD in 2005 from the University of Idaho. He is currently an Associate Professor and Director of the Berglund Center at Pacific University and has previously "served at the National Academy of Science – National Research Council as an expert in biofuels."
International Alumni Achievement Award
Luigi Maiorano has received the 2021 International Alumni Achievement Award. This award is bestowed on alumnus who graduated more than seven years prior, is a native and holds citizenship of a country other than the U.S., whose career is in natural resources, and who exemplifies a record of distinction and service internationally in his or her home country. Luigi received his PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Idaho in 2007. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Zoology, Department of Biology and Biotechnology, at the Sapienza University of Rome.
Celebrating Natural Resources Award
Monique Crumb-Wynecoop '17 has received the 2021 Celebrating CNR Award. This award is bestowed on alumni whose career has exemplified integrated natural resources management. Monique earned her BS in Ecology and Conservation Biology, BS in Fishery Resources, and MS in Natural Resources at the University of Idaho and is currently a northeastern Washington area fire ecologist and Tribal Liaison for the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network.
Honor Associate Alumni Award
Winifred Kessler has received the 2021 CNR Honor Associate Alumni Award. This award is bestowed upon stakeholders who have distinguished career records and have given valuable support to the college and its programs over an extended period of time. Winifred, a retired Wildlife Ecologist, earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of California-Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. Over her 40-year career she worked for the University of Idaho, Utah State University, the University of Northern British Columbia, and for the U.S. Forest Service as an Alaska Regional Ecologist, National Wildlife Ecologist, and Principal Rangeland Ecologist. In 2010, Winifred retired from the Forest Service as the Alaska Regional Director for Wildlife, Fisheries, Ecology, Watershed, and Subsistence Management and now resides in Prince George, British Columbia.
CNR Student-Nominated Awards
Outstanding Faculty Advisor
Dr. Armando McDonald, professor of Renewable Materials and Chemistry, is the College of Natural Resources 2021 student nomination for the Outstanding Faculty Advisor award. Armando specializes in the study of wood material, wood science, and biomass conversion into bioproducts. He has utilized his knowledge and experiences to shepherd his students through their academic careers, preparing them for their futures.
According to one of Armando's nominators, "[Dr. Mcdonald] has helped me pursue my research goals and academic aspirations by providing a safe and well-equipped lab environment, and more importantly, by guiding the way and advising patiently and persistently... I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him, and I will forever be grateful for his generosity of spirit."
Heather Heward, professor of Forest Resources, Rangeland Ecology & Management, and Natural Resources, is the College of Natural Resources 2021 student nomination for the Outstanding Instructor award. She received both her BS in Natural Resources Ecology and Conservation Biology and her MS in Forest Resources, Emphasis in Fire Ecology, from the University of Idaho. One of Heather's professional interests has been in undergraduate instruction and advising, and her students have been endlessly grateful for it.
One of Heather's nominators wrote, "In this trying year Heather has been extremely proactive about adapting her courses to meet the needs of students. She has also been successful in finding students opportunities to get into the field despite challenges with student travel and such. Her flexibility, understanding, and motivation make her an outstanding instructor."
Jessie 'Jie' Ma
Outstanding Staff Award
Jessie "Jie" Ma, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, is the 2021 recipient of the Outstanding Staff award. Jie has worked tirelessly to further her and others' research and keep the University of Idaho safe, no matter what obstacles were in her way.
According to one of Jie's nominators, "Over the course of this unusual year, Jie has been balancing the management of multiple feed and disease research along with assisting Gritman Labs COVID testing. Even when staffing was restricted to one person in the wet lab, Jie never fell behind nor cut projects slated that required the full wet lab staff to be present. On top of that, she would be whisked away to Gritman to spend many hours running qPCR diagnostics for the incoming students and during the random tests throughout the semesters. Upon her return, she did not skip a beat and would come in quite early to accomplish research tasks prior to leaving for the testing. There is no one more deserving of the award this year than Jie. Her commitment to a healthy community while maintaining the stability of the Cain Lab in these odd times has been paramount."
Sophie Gilbert fuses professionalism with humor, landing her the 2021 boot-in-the-butt award. Sophie began weaving the Bernie Sanders meme into biological fieldwork situations with the tragically false claim that he will be narrating the next BBC Planet Earth documentary.
Aside from her meme mastery, Sophie tweets wildlife research for clearer science communication across a vast range of audiences. As the pandemic has limited our in-person interactions with people, Sophie's Twitter feed is a prime example of informative and entertaining community-building in the digital era.
The Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE) has received the 2021 College of Natural Resources Outstanding Club award. SAFE gives students the opportunity to participate in prescribed burns locally and nationally, take needed S-classes, gain experience, and learn new skills that will propel them towards their future careers.
One of the SAFE's nominators wrote, "Over the past year, the UI chapter of the Student Association for Fire Ecology has been extremely active and achieved much! The chapter has completed hazardous fuels reduction work for private landowners on Moscow Mountain, which financially supports the club, allows chapter members to keep their fire season skills sharp, and benefits the community of Moscow as we work to create more fire resilient landscapes. The UI chapter of SAFE also has a rich history of providing national leadership and this year was no exception. Lars Filson served his second term as national president, while Risa Rushton served her first term as national vice president."
Donald Crawford Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award
Jan Eitel, Assistant Professor at the McCall Field Campus, was chosen to receive the 2021 Donald Crawford Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award. This award was established in 2006 to honor the efforts of graduate faculty who excel as mentors of graduate students and was named for its first recipient, Donald L. Crawford. This award is part of the College of Graduate Studies’ continuing efforts to support excellent mentoring of graduate students at the University of Idaho.
Outstanding Graduate Student Research and Creative Activity Award
Jyoti Jennewein, Ph.D. candidate in Natural Resources and Society, has been chosen to receive this year’s Outstanding Graduate Student Research and Creative Activity Award. This award is part of the College of Graduate Studies’ continuing efforts to recognize and encourage excellence in research and creative activity by graduate students at the University of Idaho.
Distinguished University Professor
Ken Cain, Professor of Aquaculture and Fish Health and Associate Director of the Aquaculture Research Institute, received the honorary designation of University Distinguished Professor. This rank is bestowed on University of Idaho faculty in recognition of sustained excellence, as judged by peers, in scholarly, creative and artistic achievement; breadth and depth of teaching in their discipline; and university service. University Distinguished Professors have national and usually international recognition and have brought distinction to the University of Idaho through their activities.
University Award for Advising Excellence
Randy Brooks, Extension Professor of Forestry and Extension Forestry Specialist, was chosen as the winner of the Award for Advising Excellence for 2021. The Advising Award recognizes exemplary advisors who demonstrate strong dedication to student needs and passion for inspiring students to discover and achieve their full potential during their time at the university and beyond.
President’s Mid-Career Faculty Award
Ryan Long, Associate Professor of Wildlife Sciences, was selected to receive the University Mid-Career Faculty Award. This award was established in 2012 to acknowledge faculty, usually during the middle stage of their career, who have demonstrated a commitment to outstanding scholarship, teaching and engagement. Recipients of this award are considered to be one of the university’s most gifted faculty members who continues to serve as a role model, a source of inspiration for students, and whose scholarship or creative activities contributes to the intellectual development and lives of people in Idaho and globally.
Lawrence C McBride Staff Award
Steve Hacker, Senior Director of Operations and Outreach, was chosen as the winner of the 2021 Lawrence C McBride Prize. The prize recognizes service far beyond that expected from the job description. Recipients are described as: creative, loyal, dedicated, supportive, enthusiastic, dependable and friendly.
Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award
Tara Hudiburg, Associate Professor in the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences, was chosen as the recipient of the University of Idaho Award of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity for 2021. This is a prestigious honor, and her professional achievements distinctly reflect excellence in research and creative activity and are truly deserving of such recognition.
Excellence in Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Efforts Award
Teresa Cohn, Research Assistant Professor at the McCall Field Campus, and her colleagues in the Confluence Lab Team were chosen as the winners of the Excellence in Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Efforts Award for 2021. The Confluence Lab incubates and implements creative interdisciplinary research projects that bring together scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, and community members, to engage environmental issues in the state of Idaho. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement!
President’s Mid-Career Faculty Award
Travis Paveglio, Associate Professor of Natural Resource Sociology, was selected to receive the University Mid-Career Faculty Award. This award was established in 2012 to acknowledge faculty, usually during the middle stage of their career, who have demonstrated a commitment to outstanding scholarship, teaching and engagement. Recipients of this award are considered to be one of the university’s most gifted faculty members who continues to serve as a role model, a source of inspiration for students, and whose scholarship or creative activities contributes to the intellectual development and lives of people in Idaho and globally.