NRM’s Tara Durboraw wins elite NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
By: Norman Martin
The National Science Foundation has awarded Tara Durboraw, a master's candidate from Texas Tech's Department of Natural Resources Management, its highly-competitive Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant that provides support for U.S. scientific leaders of tomorrow.
"Being chosen as a recipient of such a prestigious fellowship has validated my abilities as an early career researcher, as well as provided me with tremendous financial support to continue research efforts during my doctoral pursuits," Durboraw said. In this case, the NSF funding will be used to support Durboraw's doctoral program for the next three years.
According to NSF, the grant "is the nation's oldest fellowship program providing support to graduate students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields." The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees.
"No one deserves this fellowship more than Tara," added Nathan Gill, Durboraw's advisor and an assistant professor with Tech's Department of Natural Resources Management. "She has worked so hard, and if the NSF is looking to support researchers who are going to be strong leaders in science, they can rest assured that Tara will make them proud. It's been a true privilege to work with her and witness her tremendous personal growth over these last two years."
Durboraw is on track to graduate from Texas Tech with her master's degree in August, and will be joining the lab of Diana Tomback, a professor of integrative biology at the University of Colorado-Denver to pursue her research interests next fall.
In terms of her upcoming research program, Durboraw is specifically interested in the impacts of disturbance-produced openings on natural establishment of whitebark pine, a keystone species of subalpine ecosystems throughout western North America. The future of whitebark pine is uncertain, she said. The keystone species is currently facing sharp population decline across its range as it faces numerous threats, including fire exclusion, mountain pine beetle intensification, and white pine blister rust.
"In the face of sharp population decline, understanding the relationship between the whitebark pine regeneration process and these novel threats is critical for informing management and restoration efforts," Durboraw said. "My goal is to develop a better understanding of this relationship by quantifying whitebark pine recovery in openings created by white pine bister rust and mountain pine beetle outbreak."
NSF Fellows are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals are vital to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large.
Fellows share in the prestige and opportunities when they are selected. Fellowships provide the student with a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, as well as access to opportunities for professional development available to NSF-supported graduate students.
CONTACT: Warren Conway, Bricker Endowed Chair in Wildlife Management and Chair, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-6579 or email@example.com