Dan Metz, a Radford University senior biology major from Snowville, Va., has won one of three national fellowships, valued at $12,000, from the Ecological Society of America (ESA).
"It is an amazing opportunity for research and will be a foundation for the rest of my career." said Metz, who is currently consulting with the ESA to select a mentor from the organization's membership that represents approximately 10,000 American and international scientists. In conjunction with the mentor, Metz will write a research proposal, conduct original ecological research, analyze results and present at the 2015 ESA annual meeting.
The ESA is an organization that promotes ecological science through communication among ecologists, the scientific community and relevant policy-makers. The ESA raises public awareness of the importance of ecological science and ensures its appropriate use in environmental decision making.
According to the ESA, the SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship program is designed to advance the work of outstanding students in the field of ecology. SEEDS Fellows receive ESA support through leadership development, mentoring and guidance on a project of their choosing. Fellowship awards include a $6,000 stipend, $3,000 support for research, travel and housing expenses and travel expenses to upcoming leadership and annual meetings events.
Metz's fellowship will run from March 2014 through August 2015 and he is considering three different approaches. He will either explore parasite biology locally, in an Eastern urban setting or in the Canadian province of Manitoba.
"I tend to be curious about systems that have not been well explored," he said. "I love parasite biology because of the incredibly complex relationship between the host and the parasite."
Metz has been working in the Aquatic Biology Lab with Associate Professor Jeremy Wojdak to research a group of trematode parasite species that live as larvae in snails in local ponds and streams and ultimately infect a wide spectrum of wildlife species, including amphibians, mammals and birds.
"Dan has an insatiable curiosity for science. He gathers new skills quickly, from molecular biology techniques to scanning electron microscopy, because he is motivated to find answers to pressing research questions," said Wojdak, Metz's research mentor on the project that is featured here."The ESA SEEDS Fellowship will provide Dan with a great mix of financial and mentoring resources to help him make that very challenging transition from being a consumer of knowledge to being a producer of knowledge."