Posted: October 7, 2017

from Summer/Fall 2017, Issue No. 101 Resources Newsletter

Carli Dinsmore and Emily Donahue both honored with George Award and Outstanding Senior Award

In both spring 2016 and spring 2017, a Wildlife and Fisheries Science (WFS) senior has received dual honors from the department.

"A future conservation leader" is how David Miller, assistant professor of wildlife population ecology described his advisee Carli Dinsmore in spring 2016 when he nominated her for the George Award. "She is a joy to have in the classroom and in my research lab, always going above and beyond to understand why concepts are important and how they can be applied."

Carli completed the A.S. degree in Wildlife Technology at Penn State DuBois in 2006, and then chose to stay home with her children while they were very young. She returned to school in fall 2014 to pursue a B.S. in WFS, Wildlife option. She went on to be one of top undergraduate students, and a member of the Gamma Sigma Delta honor society. Carli graduated in December 2016 and is currently an M.S. candidate in our WFS graduate program.

"My experiences as a mother and as a returning adult student have highlighted for me the vital role that educators play in shaping the next generation of researchers, managers, and teachers," said Carli. "My role as an educator is central to my future ambitions. I hope to foster an interest in, and an appreciation for, all aspects of natural resources conservation."

In spring 2017, Dr. Miller successfully nominated Emily Donahue for the George Award. His accolades included, "Emily is the only student I have ever had score a 100% on any of my tests in population dynamics … The quality of her writing is extremely high. She is a brilliant student … an energetic contributor … and commands respect of all the students with whom she interacts."

Emily graduated completed the WFS baccalaureate degree program in spring 2017. She is currently enrolled in an M.S. program at Arkansas State University and studying the winter ecology of the Loggerhead Shrike. "I look forward to eventually earning a Ph.D. and pursuing a lifelong career in avian research. My goal is to become a professor and to inspire the next generation of wildlife biologists," said Emily.

The John L. George Student Conservation Award emphasizes service, professional activity, leadership, and communication.

Examples of Carli's excellence in these areas include serving as a caretaker of the captive raptor population at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center since May 2015, and as an educator to meet the center's outreach goals; working as an interpreter in the Colorado State Park system in summer 2006; volunteering at Greenwood Furnace State Park and the Stone Valley Community Charter School; leading in the classroom and helping other students master the material; and receiving an undergraduate research grant from the College of Ag Sciences to take on her own summer 2016 research project in Dr. Miller's lab.

Examples of Emily's excellence in these areas include serving as a leader for the ORION outdoor orientation experience, which brings incoming freshman together through wilderness experiences prior to starting their first year; volunteering to band birds, maintain trails, and other natural resource causes; serving as a counselor for grade-school students participating in Shaver's Creeks Outdoor School; coaching the North Pocono School Science Olympiad team working in a remote field camp in Arizona in summer 2016, gaining additional field experience working as a mist-netter and other field duties; and completing an undergraduate research project looking at phenology and weather effects on avian diversity. She presented a poster about her work at the 2017 Sigma Gamma Delta Research Exposition and was awarded 3rd place in animal-related systems category

The George Award honors an undergraduate WFS student who best exemplifies the spirit of Dr. John L. George, who was the driving force behind the establishment of the WFS major at Penn State. He was known for his perseverance, dedication, and involvement in conservation service, and his remarkable teaching skills. The recipient of the George Award is selected annually by the WFS faculty.

Our department's Outstanding Senior Award is given in recognition for service to the department, academic performance, service to the University and society, and professional promise and experience. Undergraduates and faculty submit nominations either individually or as a group, and the award recipient is selected by a committee of student and faculty volunteers.

Rapp Prize Awarded to Leah McKay and Hannah Lundin

Leah McKay, Wildlife and Fisheries Science senior, received the Orpha Kelly Rapp and Jesse Rossiter Rapp Prize for Academic in 2016. Hannah Lundin, Forest Ecosystem Management senior, was the Rapp Prize recipient in 2016. The monetary prize is awarded each spring to the senior with the highest grade point average. Elizabeth Rapp Tukey endowed the award in memory of her father Jesse Rossiter Rapp (Class of 1915) and mother Orpha Kelly Rapp.

Leah began her Penn State education at Penn State DuBois and earned the A.S. in Wildlife Technology in spring 2015. While at Penn State DuBois she was an academic tutor, a Lion Ambassador, and a volunteer bird bander. In summer 2015 she was a forest technician on the Allegheny National Forest. In summer 2016 she was a bat technician for Pittsburgh Wildlife Environmental, in Pittsburgh, PA and for Sanders Environmental in Bellefonte, PA. She enrolled at University Park in fall 2016, and served as our department student marshal at spring 2017 commencement. In summer 2017 she worked as a bat technician for Bat Conservation International.

Hannah graduated in December 2016. In summer 2016 she was an intern with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Forest Resources Division, working on timber sale preparations. In summer 2015, Hannah was an intern with Pennsylvania Game Commission, Southwest Region. Her duties included recording cruise data, marking trees for harvest, assisting with timber sale layout, and conducting seedling regeneration surveys. Hannah began her Penn State career with a spring and a summer semester at the New Kensington campus, after having been enrolled at the Community College of Allegheny County. In fall 2014 Hannah enrolled at Penn State University Park; shed was a member of the Penn State Forestry Society.

Latham Award

The two most recent recipients of the Latham Award are Shannon White (selected in 2016) and Lillie Langlois (selected in 2015).

White is a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology examining whether certain traits and behaviors may help brook trout populations adapt to habitat pressures including warming climate conditions. White is advised by Dr. Tyler Wagner, adjunct associate professor of fisheries.

Langlois is a Ph.D. candidate in Wildlife and Fisheries Science studying the effects of shale gas infrastructure on forest habitat and bird communities; she is advised by Dr. Margaret Brittingham, professor of wildlife resources.

The Roger M. Latham Memorial Graduate Award, created in 1981, memorializes Dr. Roger M. Latham (1914-1979), who devoted his career to promoting conservation and management of renewable natural resources. Latham was well known as an author and the outdoor editor at the Pittsburgh Press, a lecturer, a photographer, a naturalist, a teacher, and a resource conservationist.

The Latham Award is given annually to an outstanding full-time graduate student advised by a Wildlife and Fisheries Science faculty member.

Shannon White

"The Latham Award emphasizes scientific communication in the form of public education and outreach, and Shannon has excelled at this," says Dr. Wagner. "Shannon uses a variety of outlets including the Internet, television, meetings, presentations, publications, and field demonstrations."

Shannon's research is a collaborative effort among state and federal agencies and universities, and importantly also with the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association (LCWA). "Shannon's research is an outstanding example of engaging the public to become invested in the scientific process by actively learning about conservation problems, the scientific method, participating in field research (LCWA members routinely assist with field work), and providing critical in-kind support," explains Dr. Wagner.

Shannon has created a website and blog, The Trout Look, designed to provide research updates and answer topical questions in brook trout ecology.

Shannon elaborates, "For example, one section of the website breaks down the scientific literature to explain why brown trout, a nonnative trout species beloved by anglers, threatens the vitality of the native brook trout." The website serves as an educational tool for primary school teachers in several Pennsylvania counties.

Since coming to Penn State in 2014, Shannon has given invited presentations to the Susquehanna and Spring Creek chapters of Trout Unlimited, the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, the Tyrone Rotary Club, and the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association. In September 2016 she filmed a full-length segment with WNEP's (ABC 16) Pennsylvania Outdoor Life. You will find the link to the segment on her website.

In addition to already co-authoring several peer-reviewed research articles for the scientific community, Shannon has also published "A Race Against the Clock for Brook Trout Conservation" in the Wildlife Management Institute Outdoor News Bulletin.

Shannon received several graduate fellowship awards at Penn State in 2014, and in 2015 she was honored as a Graduate Research Fellow by the National Science Foundation.

Shannon completed an M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences in 2012 at Virginia Tech, where she was recognized as "Outstanding Master's Student" at both the department and college levels. She completed her baccalaureate work with honors in 2010 as a double major (Environmental Studies and Biology) at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.

Shannon served as a teaching assistant at Virginia Tech, where she was responsible for an ichthyology laboratory course. After completing her graduate degree, she returned Randolph-Macon College where she provided guest lectures and training in GIS, groundwater sampling, data analysis, and public speaking.

"I am particularly passionate about engaging with young scientists as they try to navigate the road to a career in fisheries and wildlife," says Shannon. "My own career goal is to become a university professor so I can recruit the next generation of scientists and help them develop the skills necessary to solve future natural resource problems."

Lillie Langlois

"Lillie combines a diverse research background with an interest in policy and public engagement," says Dr. Brittingham. "She has worked internationally, giving her a broader perspective, and she has a strong interest in using her skills and experience to mentor other students. I think all these characteristics exemplify the spirit of the Latham Award."

After completing a B.S. degree in Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2004, and an M.S. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Rhode Island in 2008, Lillie spent several semesters working with the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Bavaria, Germany. Her work with the institute included investigating incubation rhythms and reproductive strategies in sandpipers, which took her to Barrow, Alaska, and investigating the olfactory communication in the New Zealand Robin, which took her to the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She also spent a semester working at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, on a collaborative project with the University of Rhode Island, and a semester teaching English to adults in multiple language schools in Brno, Czech Republic.

Lillie came to Penn State in January 2012 and has been heavily engaged in outreach efforts related to her research. She has given professional talks and poster presentations as well as a webinar and numerous public seminars on the effects of Marcellus shale gas development on forest fragmentation in north-central Pennsylvania. "Most people are very interested in our results and want to learn more because shale gas development directly and indirectly impacts many lives," says Lillie. "Ultimately my goal is to produce materials geared for the public highlighting findings and recommendations from my dissertation research."

In spring 2012, 2013, and 2014, Lillie was an educator, guest speaker, and/or judge at the 4-H Wildlife and Forestry Educational Field Day, and a teacher of grade-school students at an Arbor Day program at the Penn State Arboretum. In spring 2015 she participated in Penn State's Take our Daughters and Sons to Work day, introducing students and parents to the field of ornithology and how birds are used as environmental indicators. In fall 2015 she served on a Graduate Student Panel to advise Wildlife and Fisheries Science undergraduate students regarding opportunities and expected outcomes of graduate education.

Lillie has served as a teaching assistant and/or guest lecturer in several undergraduate courses including Wildlife and Fisheries Measurements, Ornithology Lecture, Ornithology Laboratory, and Vertebrate Laboratory. She taught a half-day introductory seminar on ArcGIS and professional mapmaking for the Penn State Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and has also assisted individual graduate and undergraduate students with GIS-related projects. She serves as newsletter editor for The Pennsylvania Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

"My goal is to work at a small teaching-oriented university where I would have the opportunity to inspire students' appreciation and knowledge of the natural world just as my professors did for me many years ago. One aspect of my teaching philosophy is to encourage students to travel and experience a variety of ecosystems, countries, and cultures. Another aspect is to encourage sustainable lifestyles that promote healthy and green alternatives," states Lillie.

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management


117 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management


117 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802