2002 Canon National Parks Science Scholars named by U.S. National Park Service and AAAS

November 28, 2002

Ramona Maraj has plenty of "war stories" from her master's fieldwork on songbirds of Vancouver Island. There was the time a curious young black bear brushed against her and once, another bear took a night-time breather by sitting on her tent while she slept. Ironically, now that she is conducting research on grizzly bears in Canada's Yukon Territory, bear encounters have been rare. "You try not to harass the bears while you're studying them," she said.

Maraj is one of eight Ph.D. students who have received scholarships from the Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program for the Americas, allowing the doctoral students to conduct innovative research on scientific research on scientific problems critical to national parks. The scholarship program is a collaboration of Canon U.S.A., Inc., the National Park Service (NPS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Thanks to a commitment by Canon U.S.A., Inc., each of the 2002 awardees will receive $78,000.

This year, the program has become international in scope, including students and research in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

"AAAS, as an international, interdisciplinary science organization, is pleased to be a partner in the Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program for the Americas," said Alan I. Leshner, AAAS's chief executive officer. "It is important to incorporate science and technology into management and preservation of national parks throughout the Americas. Investing in the next generation of researchers makes good sense for the long-term health of parks."

The 2002 recipients are studying topics that include elk migration in Canada, invasive plants and pollinators in Patagonia, stream flow in Yosemite National Park, and community interaction strategies at the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. Since the program began, students have conducted research in more than 45 national parks and shared more than 55 scientific articles and presentations. The eligible disciplines expanded this year to include technology innovation in support of conservation, in addition to the more conventional disciplines of biological sciences, physical sciences, and social/cultural sciences.

"Throughout the hemisphere, it's clear that we need science for effective park management, and parks are extraordinary places for research in many scientific disciplines," notes Gary Machlis, NPS visiting senior scientist and coordinator of the scholarship program. "Canon U.S.A., Inc. is to be congratulated for the legacy that is being built with their generous support."

The 2002 Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program for the Americas awardees are studying topics from fish to the trees in the north, south, east and west. One of the 2002 recipients, a Mexican scientist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), will be studying endemic mammals in protected areas of Oaxaca in Mexico. Patricia Illoldi reports that the scholarship will allow her to spend eight months in the field confirming predictions made by a computer model. She said that her goal is to ensure that existing and proposed protected areas in Oaxaca include habitat for rare endemic mammals.

Marc Stern's project will consider issues regarding park management, as he conducts social science research to explore what leads to success or failure when park officials involve local people and organizations in decision-making processes in the United States and Ecuador.

Stern notes that in addition to the financial support, an important benefit of the program is the networking opportunities it provides both with other awardees throughout the Americas and with National Park Service leaders.

"It's great to be able to talk to other folks who are interested in the same things you are," he said.
-end-
Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), http://www.aaas.org, has worked to advance science for human well-being through its projects, programs, and publications, in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation. With over 134,000 members from 130 countries and 272 affiliated societies comprising more than 10 million individual members, AAAS is the world's largest federation of scientists. The association also publishes Science, an editorially independent, multidisciplinary, weekly peer-reviewed journal that ranks as the world's most prestigious scientific journals. AAAS administers EurekAlert! http://www.eurekalert.org, the online news service, featuring the latest discoveries in science and technology.

Additional Contact:
Carol Hoy, (202) 326-6414, choy@aaas.org

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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