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UW Graduate Student Again Wins Grand Teton Fellowship

June 12, 2014
Man backpacking
UW graduate student Kellen Nelson is the recipient of the 2014 Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship for research in the greater Yellowstone area.

A University of Wyoming graduate student once again has been selected by Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Association for a prestigious graduate fellowship.

Kellen Nelson, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in ecology and botany at UW, is the recipient of the 2014 Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship. Nelson plans to continue his study of aspects of climate change and effects on wildland fire regimes.

The Evison Graduate Fellowship began in 2005 to support advanced studies throughout the greater Yellowstone area. Four of the 10 fellowship winners have been UW graduate students, the most for any institution.

Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry biology and a master’s degree in forestry ecology, both from Colorado State University. For the last decade, he has participated in forest ecology research throughout Colorado and Wyoming, examining forest management and carbon offsets, and the effects of the recent mountain pine beetle outbreak on lodgepole pine forests.

After graduating with his master’s degree, Nelson spent two years working for the U.S. Forest Service -- first as a monitoring analyst for the Washington, D.C., office, and then as a technology transfer forester for the National Inventory and Monitoring Application Center. In 2012, he returned to forest ecology research to pursue a doctorate at UW.

Using field sampling and a novel, mechanistic live model, Nelson will expand his research to document spatial patterns of forest fuel moisture content in young and mature lodgepole pine forests. He also will investigate how forecast changes in fire frequency may affect forest fuel loads and fuel moisture content under projected climate change models.

Over the next century, changes in global temperature and moisture structure are expected to increase wildland fire occurrence as changing weather patterns produce conditions that promote wildfires. Changes in the moisture budget and fire regime will have a wide-reaching effect on the flora and fauna of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The research will help managers and researchers better understand how current vegetation plays a role in future fire regimes under projected climate change.

The Evison Fellowship was established in memory of Boyd Evison, after his death in October 2002, to honor his extensive and dedicated service to both the National Park Service and the Grand Teton Association (GTA). Evison retired in 1994 from a 42-year career with the Park Service and, soon after, began a second career as executive director for GTA, a nonprofit park partner dedicated to aiding interpretive, educational and research programs for Grand Teton National Park.

The Evison Fellowship program encourages scientific and conservation-related research in Grand Teton and throughout the greater Yellowstone area; and it supports study leading to a master’s or Ph.D. in the biosciences, geosciences or social sciences.

An Evison Fellowship provides tuition assistance and a yearly stipend to cover travel and field research costs. Grand Teton National Park offers housing support for students during field sessions.

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