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2023 FER Graduate Students Award Winners

FER presented graduate student awards Thursday, 20 April. All of these fellowships carry prestige and the Cooper, Davey, Namkoong, and FER Faculty fellowships include a cash award of $500.  The Poole Fellowship is for $15,000 dispersed during Summer 2023. Congratulations to Julianna, Logan, Titilayo, Henry, Catherine, Cassio and Haley.

The Arthur W. Cooper Graduate Fellowship recognizes excellence in the social sciences.  The fellowship is named to honor Dr. Art Cooper, former department head, and his many professional accomplishments.  Available to all graduate students who have been in residence at least one full semester in any degree program in the department.

The Arthur W. Cooper Graduate Fellowship: Julianna Tresca

Julianna worked with collaborators in the Ground Water Management Branch of NCDEQ to evaluate their PFAS data over the last few years. In 2016, NCDEQ began testing their monitoring well network for regulated organic chemicals and, in 2019, they commenced with PFAS analyses. Julianna worked with the Department of Statistics summer consultant course to use Shiny-R Studio applications to provide a more user-friendly interface to these data that the current NCDEQ GIS database does not provide. (Dr. Nichols)

The Namkoong Family Graduate Fellowship promotes scholarship and ethics in forestry and conservation. Dr. Gene Namkoong was awarded the Marcus Wallenberg Prize for his contributions to quantitative population genetics, tree breeding, and management of genetic resources. Factors considered: performance in coursework, research accomplishments, success as a teaching assistant, service and involvement in departmental and professional affairs.  Available to full-time graduate students who have been in residence for at least one year in any degree program in the department.

The Namkoong Family Graduate Fellowship : Logan Richardson

Logan is an Energy Poverty Fellow with the Energy Poverty PIRE Project in Southern Africa ( Over time, she has taken on progressively more leadership in this project. In her first year, she coordinated NC State student participation in a bi-weekly seminar that brought together project scientists and students from UNC, RTI, and NC State. In her first summer, she had lead responsibility for coding the questionnaires that were used with tablets to interview 1,300 households in Lusaka, Zambia about household energy use. Logan’s hard work and careful quality control on this survey have provided the basis for analyses of the impacts of adoption of new cooking technology as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dr. Sills)

The Namkoong Family Graduate Fellowship: Titilayo Tajudeen

Her Master’s thesis project is focused on using structure from motion point clouds to estimate biomass in the knees in an ancient bald cypress grove. To conduct her research, Titilayo has had to explore not just how camera images can be used to develop the data she needs, but also how to capture the images needed while in a kayak on unstable ground. This project has required her to use new software, work with multiple data types, and develop GIS skills that she did not have. (Dr. Rathbun)

The Charles B. Davey Graduate Fellowship honors excellence in the biological sciences.  The fellowship is named to honor Dr. Chuck Davey, former department head, and his many professional accomplishments.  Available to all graduate students who have been in residence at least one full semester in any degree program in the department.

The Charles B. Davey Graduate Fellowship: Henry Ssembatya

For his first PhD research project, Henry is leading a collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to develop an open source model that simulates the behavior of Texas’ bulk electricity grid under future hydrometeorological stress. Henry is incorporating historical power plant outage data into the model calibration process, and then using thermodynamic global warming scenarios informed by multi-model climate change projections to simulate system operations in the future. A key aspect of his work is exploring how electrification of residential space heating will alter the timing of “peak” electricity load (demand) in the Texas system. (Dr. Kern)

FER faculty members have donated personal funds to create an endowment to recognize ability and potential for distinction in teaching, independent research, and/or extension by FER graduate students.  These Forestry and Environmental Resources Faculty Fellowships for Excellence in Graduate Education (FERFFEGE – try saying that three times fast) promote and reward scholarship and service. This award favors students who have demonstrated scholarship and service in the department, college, university, or professional society.  Scholarship can manifest itself in classroom teaching, discovery, or the process of applying knowledge. We will award one to a masters student and one to a Ph.D. student.

Forestry and Environmental Resources Faculty Fellowship for Excellence in MS Graduate Education: Catherine Lerose

Catherine has proven herself a hardworking, ambitious, and collegial collaborator in many ways. She conducted and published undergraduate research prior to coming to NCSU. Although her thesis project is focused on surveying NC hunters, she realized it would benefit several other SEAFWA states and volunteered to expand her project to serve collaborators at other state agencies including those in SC and VA. She is also working with human dimensions specialists in TN and KY to ensure the SEAFWA wide CWD survey efforts are directly comparable. Catherine, has demonstrated leadership in additional projects while matriculating at NCSU. For instance, she led a group of undergraduates conducting research on implicit biases people hold against snakes and bats, and is helping the students publish manuscripts based on the research. (Dr. Peterson)

Forestry and Environmental Resources Faculty Fellowship for Excellence in PhD Graduate Education: Cassio Monti

He has proven himself to be a truly excellent scholar. During his time at NCSU he has demonstrated a profound understanding of Forestry as a scientific discipline, an ability to integrate this understanding through Mathematical Programming, earned a MS in statistics, and created unique management decision making programs using fuzzy set theory. (Dr. Roise)     

William R. Poole Fellowship:    Haley Smith

Haley is a straight-A student who has already submitted first-authored scientific papers (one published and one in review), led the statistical analysis for another paper in prep, and has several research projects in various stages of progress. Her paper in Citizen Science: Theory and Practice examined how college students enrolled in an environmental citizen science project became more engaged in environmental topics as a result of their participation in the project. Haley’s other manuscript, in review, is a case study of citizen science engagement by Girl Scout troops and the amazing subsequent civic engagement and intergenerational learning outcomes involving elementary school-aged girls. Haley has a strong command of the research process, the scientific literature in her subfield, and a thorough understanding of statistics. (Dr. Cooper)