OTS Announces winners of the 8th Annual Student Paper Award  

“Frequency-dependent selection for rare genotypes promotes genetic diversity of a tropical palm” is the winner of the OTS 8th Annual Student Paper Award.

Luke Browne from Tulane University wrote this paper published in Ecology Letters, in collaboration with his advisor, Jordan Karubian. Luke's study employed a 5-year field-based experiment with seedlings of a tropical palm in northwest Ecuador to show that the rarity of an individual's genotype is a powerful determinant of survival probability, and hence an overlooked driver of non-random seedling recruitment in tropical forests. Luke is an alum of the Organization for Tropical Studies’ Tropical Biology course in 2012.

Additionally, two papers received Honorary Mention. One is Kaitlin Baudier from Drexel University for her paper “Microhabitat and body size effects on heat tolerance: implications for responses to climate change (army ants: Formicidae, Ecitoninae)”, published in Journal of Animal Ecology.  This study is the first to demonstrate that soil microhabitat use is a strong selective force on species thermal tolerance. Her advisor is Sean O’Donnell, who has had a long association with OTS.  Kaitlin is also an alum of an OTS course, Neotropical Social Insects in 2009, and her research was funded in-part by an award from the OTS Tyson Research Fellowship program.  

The other Honorary Mention goes to Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela for her paper “Incorporating explicit geospatial data shows more species at risk of extinction than the current Red List”, published in Science Advances.  In her paper, she showed that many more species of birds found in six biodiversity hotspots throughout the tropics should be listed as threatened based on their suitable range. She provided guidelines for the improvement of risk assessment that makes use of the best available geospatial data and tools. Natalia conducted this research while a doctoral student at Duke University, working with Stuart Pimm. She is also an alum of the OTS "Ecología Tropical y Conservación" course in 2011 and currently is Post-doctoral Researcher at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

“This year we received a wonderful group of nominations” said Kimberly G. Smith from the University of Arkansas, Chair of the Awards Committee. “Choosing the winner this year was a very difficult task given the high quality of the nominations we received.”

The other members of the Awards Committee are Erin Kuprewicz, University of Connecticut; Kyle Harms, Louisiana State University; and Alejandro Rico Guevara, the winner of last year’s competition and now at University of California, Berkeley. The Committee would like to thank all the students that submitted packets for consideration. 

Last Updated ( 03/30/17 )