Utah State University ecologists celebrated past and current achievements during the USU Ecology Center’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Symposium held Oct. 24, 2018, in the Huntsman Hall Perry Pavilion on campus. Among the honored guests were past center directors John Neuhold, Frederic Wagner, James MacMahon and current director Nancy Huntly. Past director Martyn Caldwell joined the gathering via videoconference from Washington, D.C.
“We are here to recognize the past 50 plus years of excellence in ecology, “ said Lauren Ikerd, USU Ecology Center staff assistant, who opened the symposium and welcomed guests. “Take a quick look around this room … surrounding you is a sampling of faculty, students, researchers and staff from at least 12 departments and five colleges here at USU.”
Organized in 1966, the USU Ecology Center was formed to promote and coordinate diverse university research efforts and graduate studies in the broad area of ecology, Ikerd explained. The interdisciplinary center was funded in 1967, a curriculum was developed and students could earn a doctoral or master’s degree in ecology, while maintaining residence in their home department, which corresponded with their area of interest and their major professor.
Ikerd presented a number of “quick facts” about the USU Ecology Center:
- The center co-funds 25 faculty from six departments in the College of Science, the Quinney College of Natural Resources, the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The center has an additional 87 affiliated faculty members from 12 departments and five colleges at Utah State.
- Since 1967, the center has awarded more than 520 Ecology graduate degrees and 111 graduate students are currently enrolled.
- The center currently manages 75 sponsor-funded projects and assists with travel, purchasing and other support services.
- Since 2005, the center has funded more than 200 Graduate Research Support Awards, including 18 awards for the current fiscal year.
- The center offers a monthly seminar series, open to all, featuring top national speakers.
- The center’s Working Groups provide funding to catalyze new science initiatives, including ARGON, a network of collaborators sharing ecological data collected from the National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network, known as “NEON.”
- The center coordinates the Science Reporter Internship in collaboration with Utah Public Radio.
- The center established the university’s Climate Adaptation graduate program.
- The center’s monthly Interdisciplinary Research Forum promotes sharing of ideas and expertise throughout campus.
- The center maintains the Green Canyon Ecology Station, the Millville Aquatic Research Facility and the Bear Lake Biological Laboratory for campus-wide teaching and research.
- In fall 2017, Ecology Center researchers were featured speakers for USU Science Unwrapped’s “Ecology!” public outreach series, celebrating the center’s 50-year milestone.
In honor of the 50th anniversary, the center is conducting a scholarship campaign to support graduate students.