USU Alum Shines in U.S. Forest Service Collectible Card Series
Thursday, Jun. 21, 2012
USU alum Tamara Heartsill-Scalley PhD'05, a research ecologist, is featured in a new U.S. Forest Service collectible card series for aspiring scientists.
Detail from the reverse side of a new collectible card, created by the U.S. Forest Service, featuring USU alum Tamara Heartsill-Scalley.
“Take me out to the … forest?!”
It might not be a song lyric that comes to mind when thinking about collectible trading cards, but it could describe a novel campaign the U.S. Forest Service has developed to teach youngsters about real-life scientists. Created by the staff of the USFS Natural Inquirer middle school education journal, the new Scientists’ Card Series includes Utah State University alum Tamara Heartsill-Scalley.
“I’m excited to be a part of this effort,” says Heartsill-Scalley, who earned a doctorate in ecology from USU in 2005. “This is a great way to foster interest in science and show kids what being a scientist is all about.”
Heartsill-Scalley, who is stationed as a USFS research ecologist at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, is featured in on an inaugural card that explains what an ecologist does.
“An ecologist studies the dynamics and interactions between the environment and its organisms,” reads the card. “I conduct research on tropical forests, watersheds and streams.”
During her studies at USU, Heartsill-Scalley conducted field research at Puerto Rico’s USDA-USFS Luquillo Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research site with faculty mentor Todd Crowl, one of the site’s principal investigators. She continues research collaborations with Crowl on various projects at the site.
While at USU, Heartsill-Scalley was honored by the College of Natural Resources as a Teaching Assistant of the Year and a Research Assistant of the Year. She also received the university’s Robins Award, as USU’s 2004 Graduate Research Assistant of the Year.
During her graduate studies, she especially appreciated the USU Ecology Center Seminar Series.
“I not only had the opportunity to hear from leading scientists who visited Utah State, I also benefited from one-on-one conversations with them,” she says. “The seminar series, along with the informal social interactions it provided, was a fundamental experience of graduate ecology at USU.”
Heartsill-Scalley says she also enjoyed the graduate seminar course offered for new Ecology Center graduate students.
“Because the Ecology Center brings together people from many departments, we got to interact with students and professors from math and statistics, physics, biology, watershed sciences, wildland resources and other areas,” she says. “It was a defining course, where we debated plenty. It was intense and invigorating. We realized that, in preparation for careers as ecologists, we depend on continued reading of scientific literature and lively discussions with colleagues.”
Beyond the academic grind, Heartsill-Scalley remembers the “wonderful experience” of attending USU’s Diwali Festival, as well as graduate art exhibits and ceramic guild activities.
“I still have handmade ceramic pieces from my Utah State years in my home,” she says.
During her graduating year, Heartsill-Scalley was named the Department of Wildland Resources’ Stokes-Leopold Scholar. Established in 1997, the prestigious honor was created in recognition of the enduring legacy of the late USU professor Allen W. Stokes and his University of Wisconsin mentor, Aldo Leopold. The award includes use of a private office with Stokes’ personal desk and other furniture.
“I was very humbled to receive this honor and I had the added privilege of meeting Dr. Stokes’ wife, Alice, at the awards ceremony,” she says. “Receiving this honor and working in Dr. Stokes’ office made all the difference by providing the environment I needed to succeed. After that ceremony, who wouldn’t be ready to write their dissertation?”
- USFS Natural Inquirer Scientists’ Card Series
- USU Ecology Center
- USU Department of Wildland Resources
- USU College of Natural Resources
Contact: Tamara Heartsill-Scalley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, email@example.com