Story posted May 09, 2011
Senior Evan Fricke and five recent graduates have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.
Fricke, a biology major from Kalispell, Mont., plans to pursue graduate work on the ecology and evolution of plant-animal interactions at the University of Washington in the fall.
Fricke has been researching an honors project examining when and why birds decide to switch mates or, in effect, "divorce."
The question becomes much more interesting in the case of long-lived birds such as the Leach's Storm-Petrels that breed on Kent Island, says Professor Nathaniel Wheelwright who along with Bowdoin Scientific Station and Kent Island Director Damon Gannon has been overseeing Frickes honors project research.
Evan has put forward a novel and fascinating hypothesis, namely, that birds evaluate the quality of their mates in the context of the entire breeding colony, in effect, cutting their mate some slack in a year in which the colony as a whole did poorly.
I think ecology is an especially important field to pursue because ecological field research is necessary for guiding conservation, says Fricke.
I've always been captivated by nature and curious about how the world around me works.
"That fascination has turned into an intellectual interest in ecology during my time at Bowdoin, while doing research on Kent Island, and when I studied abroad in East Africa.
Also winning NSF fellowships:
The NSF Fellowship Program awards fellowships for graduate study leading to research-based master's and doctoral degrees in the fields of science and engineering relevant to the mission of the NSF.
The three-year awards provide both stipends of $30,000 and tuition payments of $10,500 each year.