Hunter awarded NSF OPUS grant
Monday, March 19, 2012
Professor Mark Hunter has been awarded a $185,000 grant from the National Science Foundation through their Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS) program. His project is “Trophic interactions, plant quality, and the integration of above and belowground processes.” The two-year grant runs from June 2012 – May 2014.
“The OPUS funding basically provides support for a sabbatical,” Hunter said. “It will allow me to hide out and write a book.” Hunter will synthesize over 25 years of his research in diverse systems (temperate forests, old fields, deserts, lakes, streams, agricultural fields) with diverse taxa (insects, trees, perennial herbs, viruses, birds, algae, cyanobacteria, mycorrhizal fungi, protozoan parasites) under a single unifying theme of variation in plant quality. According to the proposal, new insights will emerge from the synthesis that inform our understanding of trophic interactions (living organisms eating or being eaten), ecosystem processes, and the links between them. “When we write up our research step by step in journals, we don’t always have the opportunity to tie things together,” Hunter said. “I’m optimistic that some generalities will emerge when I pull all the different research threads together.”
Products of the synthesis will include a large monograph and a smaller synthetic summary, both of which should stimulate future work by colleagues and students. As in previous work, Hunter will emphasize links between research on trophic interactions and mission-oriented endeavors of importance to society, including crop pest management, invasive species research, conservation biology, and mitigating the effects of global environmental change. A graduate course in trophic interactions and a workshop for EEB’s Frontiers Master’s students on the importance of synthesis will also be developed as a result of OPUS activities.
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