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Eckerd Graduate Jeff Ackley '08 Awarded $100,000 NSF Graduate and Research Traineeship in Urban Ecology at ASU

posted on 05/05/2009

Eckerd graduate Jeff Ackley '08 has received a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship in Urban Ecology at Arizona State University. Awarded to only two to four students each year, the traineeship will fund up to $100,000 of Jeff's 6-year Ph.D. program through tuition waivers, stipends and research funding.

The Eckerd campus served as a foundation for Jeff's research, "I am in the process of publishing a paper on a population of non-venomous watersnakes that live in one of Eckerd's retention ponds," says Jeff. "This artificial habitat was constructed only 10 years ago and despite being in the middle of a city, it supported one of the densest snake populations ever found. Studying the miraculous success of these wild animals inside St. Petersburg fueled my interest in Urban Ecology, a new field of science that has only begun to emerge in the last decade."

Jeff will be studying the diversity of reptile and amphibian populations in urban environments with the hopes of discovering how these animals are surviving amidst dense metropolitan and urban development. His work also seeks to develop urban planning methods that can support healthy animal populations and conserve some of what remains in natural habitats within the nation's rapidly expanding metropolitan areas.

About the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship (IGERT) in Urban Ecology
The IGERT program was developed to meet the challenges of educating Ph.D. scientists and engineers from the United States who will pursue careers in research and education. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education for students, faculty, and institutions by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.

About IGERT Recipient Jeff Ackley '08
Jeff Ackley graduated from Eckerd College in December 2008 with a B.S. in Biology and a double minor in East Asian Studies and Japanese. While at Eckerd, he participated in two NSF summer research programs: Experimental Field Biology at Sam Houston State University, Texas in 2007; and Natural History of a West Indian Herpetofauna Avila University, Dominica in 2008. Jeff was a Ford Apprentice Scholar, a member of Eckerd's Sigma Xi chapter, the Japanese National Honor Society, and was inducted into Eckerd's Phi Beta Kappa Zeta Chapter of Florida. Jeff served as a teaching assistant for ecology and herpetology classes and was the vice president and co-founder of the EC Ale Connoisseurs.

Jeff has published two peer-reviewed papers, two magazine articles and more than 25 nature photographs. Jeff is the son of John and Binti Ackley of Stonington, Conn.

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