Good things come in threes: three Rackham Merit Fellowships
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Incoming EEB Ph.D. students Katherine Crocker, Serge Farinas and Senay Yitbarek have been awarded the Rackham Merit Fellowship, one of the largest and most prestigious awards for incoming students. The fellowship funds five years of their doctoral work.
The students will take part in a two-month 2011 Merit Fellow Summer Institute to help them prepare for their doctoral studies.
During the summer, Crocker will work in the lab of Professor Liz Tibbetts on chemical communication in Hymenoptera (wasps). In general, Crocker’s doctoral research will involve behavioral ecology research.
Farinas will continue his master’s thesis work this summer looking at how changing temperature and precipitation along a climate grid influence alpine plant community chemistry (nutrient concentrations and ratios) with Professors Deborah Goldberg and Knute Nadelhoffer. Farinas’ doctoral work will expand on his master’s research. “Understanding changes to plant chemistry is vital as these differences can lead to further changes in ecosystem function via plant-soil feedbacks and changes to associated microbial and animal communities,” said Farinas.
Using computer simulations, Yitbarek will investigate how competitive species interactions can give rise to the formation of spatial patterns in ecological systems with Professor John Vandermeer this summer. Yitbarek said, “this exciting research will provide a new framework from which to tackle the age old question of species coexistence by using tools from game-theory, dynamical systems, and graph theory. Understanding how species coexist within a spatial framework will contribute to the age old question of how biodiversity is maintained,” said Yitbarek.
The Rackham Merit Fellowship Program helps sustain the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the Michigan graduate community, one that embraces students with diverse experiences and goals, and who come from many educational, cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds. The RMFP is competitive and recognizes entering students who have outstanding academic qualifications, show exceptional potential for scholarly success in their graduate program, and demonstrate promise for contributing to wider academic, professional, or civic communities. The doctoral fellowship provides up to a five-year funding package in partnership with the graduate program that includes tuition, required fees, stipend, health and dental coverage, during each fall and winter term, with select summer stipend and benefits.
In this article: