Three first-time presenters win awards at Front Range Student Ecology Symposium

In late February, ecologists from across Colorado celebrated the 25th consecutive year of the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium. This event is organized by Colorado State University students from the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and attended by student presenters from as far away as Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Faculty, postdocs, industry, and government scientists were also in attendance.

Three CSU undergraduate student researchers received awards for their poster presentations. Every one of these three students were presenting research for the first time ever at the symposium.

Hailey Molina won first place for her presentation on guppy salinity tolerance and competition. Sarah Hays won third place for her presentation on warbler nest building. Both Hays and Molina conduct their research in Cameron Ghalambor’s laboratory in the Biology Department at CSU.

“I had already been doing the research for a while and had gotten some cool answers to my questions,” said Hays. “I wanted to begin to share them with the community.”

Preparing and presenting research

Two men look at poster, one explainsGregory Barosh won second place for his presentation on mapping a prevalent Colorado weed. Barosh is a student majoring in Geography at CSU. He got the idea for his research from a GIS course he took at CSU. He used GIS to bring together multiple datasets into a predictive model determining areas of Colorado that may be vulnerable to invasion by Russian knapweed.

He displayed his model output with a large, bright map of Colorado placed in the center of his poster. Barosh went through a few poster drafts before printing the final version.

“It was clear early on that, when presenting spatial data and maps, the poster quickly became too complicated to grasp in just a few minutes,” said Barosh. “By keeping the purpose clear and concise, I was able to fit a comfortable narrative onto the poster that made for a simple but strong pitch.”

The symposium also included a mentoring workshop, a panel on career routes, two keynote speakers, and a reception with live music. Local businesses donated prizes for award winners. Presenters received a total of 12 awards in four categories. A third of the presenters at the symposium were undergraduate student researchers.

“I would like to recommend poster presentations to other students,” said Barosh, “I was nervous going into it, but it was relaxed and friendly. It is great practice for networking and presenting to smaller groups of people.”

Award Recipients

Undergraduate Student Oral Presentations:

Tessa Parish (First place)

Rachael Merkt (Second place)

Hanna Johnson (Third place)

Graduate Student Oral Presentations:

Courtney Larson (First place)

Shelby McClelland, Katie Rocci, and Erik Funk (Second place three-way tie)

Graduate Student Poster Presentations:

Mary Riches (First place)

Clifton McKee (Second place)

Natalie Moreno (Third place)