Skip to Main Content

FNR Celebrates Students at Annual Awards, Scholarship Ceremony

Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources recognized the department’s student award and scholarship recipients at a ceremony on April 17, 2023.

A full photo gallery of all of the scholarship and award winners is available on the FNR Facebook page. 

Academic merit awards are given to a sophomore, junior, and senior within each major who has the highest academic achievement (cumulative GPA). Each major also selects one individual for its leadership award, typically a senior who has been exemplary within their major or the department as a whole.

Each major also puts forth a nominee for the Stanley Coulter Leadership Award, which recognizes the department’s outstanding student leader. It carries the name of Stanley Coulter, former Dean of Science, who initiated Purdue’s forestry program in 1914. Mr. John Sample and other early forestry graduates established the Coulter Fund in honor of Dean Coulter, and to recognize the achievements of students in Forestry and Natural Resources. The winner of this award has demonstrated strong leadership and responsible citizenship in activities at the department, school, university, and community level.

The 2023-24 Stanley Coulter Leadership Award winner is Jonathan Shimizu. Jonathan is a graduatingJonathan Shimizu (right) accepts the Stanley Coulter Leadership Award from associate department head Dr. Elizabeth Flaherty senior in forestry with a minor in environmental politics and policy. As a student in the forest science concentration, his thesis observed the effects of repeated prescribed burns on timber quality in the central hardwood forest region. After graduation, Jonathan will be moving to Mammoth Lakes, California, to work as a forester for the U.S. Forest Service at the Inyo National Forest.

Shimizu also received the Forestry Leadership Award.

The FNR faculty presents a trio of research and engagement awards.

The L. David Mech Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award, named in honor of Dr. L. David Mech, a research biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the world’s foremost authority on wolf ecology, who earned his PhD in wildlife ecology in 1962. The award recognizes a senior, who has, by virtue of contributions made independently or in conjunction with ongoing studies, shows the greatest potential for future success as a research scientist.

The 2023-24 honoree of the Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award is Amanda King. Amanda is a senior wildlife major with a minor in aquatic sciences. After graduation, she will be pursuing her master's at Virginia Tech studying northern long-eared bats in coastal New Jersey.

Alexis Proudman received the FNR Undergraduate Research Award, which recognizes an undergraduate who, by virtue of contributions made independently or in conjunction with ongoing studies, shows the great potential for future success as a research scientist. Alexis is graduating in May, and is currently searching for a master's position. After taking a research internship her freshman year, Alexis knew she wanted to pursue a career in research. She currently has a paper in review at the Journal of Mammalogy, which she says was only possible with the help of her mentors Dr. Liz Flaherty and Dr. Landon Jones.

Alex Dudley received the FNR Undergraduate Engagement Award, which recognizes a senior who has demonstrated excellence in engagement and has shown the greatest potential for fulfilling the extension and research components of the Land Grant Mission. Alex is graduating at the end of the semester and will be pursuing a Master's Degree at Wichita State University in Kansas. Her research will focus on using cattle grazing as a proxy for historical bison grazing to increase plant diversity. While at Purdue, she has been heavily involved in the Purdue student chapter of The Wildlife Society, acting as its president for the 2023-24 school year. She also has done research in Dr. Pat Zollner's lab, and has held multiple jobs within the department. She recently received the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award for the North Central Section of The Wildlife Society. Dudley was honored with several other awards: the FNR Outstanding Senior Award, the Forestry Academic Merit Senior Award, the Society of American Foresters Senior Award and the R.K. Swihart Wildlife Leadership Award at the awards/scholarship ceremony, in addition to the receiving the Claude M. Gladden Memorial Fund Scholarship. 

Amanda King, the L. David Mech Undergraduate Research Award honoree; Alex Dudley, the Undergraduate Engagement Award honoree; Alexis Proudman, the Undergraduate Research Award honoree Amanda King, the L. David Mech Undergraduate Research Award honoree; Alex Dudley, the Undergraduate Engagement Award honoree; Alexis Proudman, the Undergraduate Research Award honoree

FNR recognizes a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior outstanding student, an award which is given to the most outstanding student in each class as demonstrated by educational accomplishment, research, community service, student organization involvement and leadership, and involvement at the department, college, or university level.

  • FNR Outstanding Freshman: Lydia Pultorak. Lydia is a freshman majoring in Wildlife with a minor in Forest Ecosystems. She will be working for the North Carolina Bird Atlas this summer conducting surveys of breeding birds on the coastal side of North Carolina.
  • FNR Outstanding Sophomore: Rebeca Appelmann, Beca is a sophomore in Wildlife with a minor in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. She is currently conducting research in the Agronomy Department about soil nitrogen bioavailability. She is also involved in The Wildlife Society and FNR Ambassadors. She intends to work as a park ranger or with other conservation research.
  • FNR Outstanding Junior: Alyssa Johnson. Alyssa is a junior in Wildlife, and she will be a teaching assistant at Practicum this upcoming summer! She looks forward to helping teach and mentor this year’s cohort of practicum students, especially during herps week! After TA’ing practicum, she will be spending the summer in Silverton, Colorado exploring the mountains and volunteering on a long-term habitat monitoring project!
  • FNR Outstanding Senior: Alex Dudley.

 

FNR Outstanding Students: Alyssa Johnson (Junior); Alex Dudley (Senior); Beca Appelmann (Sophomore); Lydia Pultorak (Freshman) FNR Outstanding Students: Alyssa Johnson (Junior); Alex Dudley (Senior); Beca Appelmann (Sophomore); Lydia Pultorak (Freshman)

Aquatic Science Awards
Senior Leadership Award: Megan Merryman. Megan is a senior and a double major in wildlife and aquatic sciences. After graduation, she hopes to find a job where she can work with her community and help others learn or gain experience in these fields. Right now, she is conducting research on the diel and seasonal movement patterns of bluegill and largemouth bass using PIT tags and receivers in an experimental pond. Her research team also related individual movement patterns to that individual's susceptibility to angling. This summer, she plans on finishing up that research and submitting a manuscript for publication.

Sophomore Academic Merit Award: Austin Mygrant. Austin is a sophomore aquatic sciences major with a fisheries concentration and a minor in wildlife science.

Junior Academic Merit Award: Alexis Snook. Alexis is a junior in aquatic sciences, who is currently working as a teaching assistant and as an undergraduate research assistant in a lab on campus. This summer, she will be serving as a teaching assistant for Summer Practicum. 

Senior Academic Merit Award: Emily Troisi. Emily Troisi is a senior in Aquatic Sciences, and intends to pursue work in either research or pond management.

Aquatic Sciences Academic Merit Honorees: Alexis Snook (Junior), Emily Troisi (Senior) Aquatic Sciences Academic Merit Honorees: Alexis Snook (Junior), Emily Troisi (Senior)

Forestry Awards
Leadership Award: Jonathan Shimizu.

Sophomore Academic Merit Award: Benjamin Wegener and Albert Spalding. Ben is a sophomore in Forestry with a concentration in forest science. His undergraduate thesis is focused on forest economics and he hopes to research the economic impact of high impact understory invasive shrubs. Albert is a sophomore forestry major with a sustainable biomaterials concentration.

Junior Academic Merit Award: Leah Griffin. Leah is a junior in Forestry, as well as the treasurer and an active member of the Student Chapter of Environmental Education. She plans to return to Iron River, Michigan as a teaching assistant for the 2024 Summer Forestry Practicum.

Senior Academic Merit Award: Alex Dudley.

Forestry Academic Merit and Leadership Award Honorees: Alex Dudley (Senior); Leah Griffin (Junior); Benjamin Wegener (Sophomore); Jonathan Shimizu (Undergraduate Leadership Award honoree) Forestry Academic Merit and Leadership Award Honorees: Alex Dudley (Senior); Leah Griffin (Junior); Benjamin Wegener (Sophomore); Jonathan Shimizu (Undergraduate Leadership Award honoree)

Wildlife Awards
Senior Leadership Award: Alex Dudley.

Sophomore Academic Merit Award: Madison Parr and Elena Boughton. Madison is a sophomore in Wildlife, and will be attending Summer Practicum this year in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is currently involved in a research lab focusing on feeding mechanisms of surgeonfish around the Hawaiian Islands.

Elena is a sophomore in Wildlife, and will be attending practicum in Michigan this summer. She currently works on a bird window collision project for the Fernandez-Juricic visual and behavioral ecology lab. Additionally, she is involved in Dr. Dunning's songbird banding lab. She is an active member of The Wildlife Society. Next year, she will be a co-leader for the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station, and the secretary of TWS. She wants to pursue a career in avian research or wildlife habitat management.

Junior Academic Merit Award: Alyssa Johnson.

Senior Academic Merit Award: Anne Talbot. Anne is a senior in wildlife. She co-leads the Purdue Northern Saw-Whet Owl banding station and is the Birds Working Group Leader of The Wildlife Society. She is currently working on an independent research project investigating if color signals of differing levels of contrast will affect the distance at which songbirds flee from predators, specifically domestic cats. After graduating, she will be working in New Mexico at Bandelier National Monument surveying for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse and a variety of other species. 

Wildlife Academic Merit Awards and Leadership Award Honoree: Alex Dudley (Undergraduate Leadership Award); Anne Talbot (Senior); Elena Broughton (Sophomore); Madison Parr (Sophomore); Alyssa Johnson (Junior) Wildlife Academic Merit Awards and Leadership Award Honoree: Alex Dudley (Undergraduate Leadership Award); Anne Talbot (Senior); Elena Broughton (Sophomore); Madison Parr (Sophomore); Alyssa Johnson (Junior)

An Outstanding Camper Award is presented to students in aquatic sciences, forestry and wildlife and areAquatic Sciences Outstanding Camper Emily Troisi determined by student vote at Summer Practicum. Selection is based on leadership, scholarship, and the ability to get along with others in the camp setting and field work.  

Outstanding Aquatic Sciences Camper Award: Emily Troisi

Outstanding Forestry Camper Award: Austin Marshall. Austin is a senior in forestry, pursuing a degree in forest management with a minor in computer information technology. The Bunker Hill, Indiana, native is an active officer of the Society of American Foresters and the president of the Student Association for Fire Ecology. He is currently planning to find a federal or state level position. 

Outstanding Wildlife Camper Award: Joe Ogas. Joe is a senior in wildlife. He plans to travel after graduation, working field jobs and gaining new experiences. He is currently studying abroad at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. This summer, he will be a counselor at Camp Watitoh in Becket, Massachusetts. 

In addition to the academic merit, outstanding camper and leadership awards, the wildlife major also gives out four other awards: the Durward Allen Memorial Award, the Kirkpatrick Memorial Graduate Student Award, the L. David Mech Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award and the William A. Rafferty Award.

Durward Allen Memorial Award

Durward Allen was a distinguished member of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and internationally recognized as one of the nation’s leading wildlife authorities. In honor of Dr. Allen, this award is presented to an outstanding junior majoring in Wildlife.

The 2023-24 honoree of the Durward Allen Memorial Award is Alyssa Johnson

 

Kirkpatrick Memorial Graduate Student AwardAlison Ochs

This award was established by the widow and two daughters of Charles Kirkpatrick, The recipient must be a wildlife graduate student within one year of graduation (either before or after).

The 2023-24 honoree of the Kirkpatrick Memorial Graduate Student Award is Alison Ochs. Alison completed her undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College, where her experiences in field work and ecology launched her research career. She continued her work with an internship at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, where she gained the experience and skills needed to start a PhD program at Purdue, where she worked with Professors Rob Swihart and Mike Saunders on examining the effects of forest management on terrestrial salamanders. She completed her PhD this past December and is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher under Professor Lenore Fahrig at Carleton University studying the effects of roads on wildlife.

 

L. David Mech Distinguished Undergraduate Research AwardAmanda King receives her certificate for the L. David Mech Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award from Dr. Elizabeth Flaherty

This award is named in honor of Dr. L. David Mech, recipient of a PhD in wildlife ecology from Purdue in 1962. Dr. Mech, a research biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s foremost authority on wolf ecology. In 1995, Dr. Mech was named a Distinguished Alumni of the Purdue University College of Agriculture. He was also a recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award, the highest honor bestowed by The Wildlife Society.

This award was established by the faculty in wildlife to recognize a senior who has, by virtue of contributions made independently or in conjunction with ongoing studies, shown the greatest potential for future success as a research scientist. Selection is based on the student’s curiosity, intellect, perseverance, problem solving, and communication skills.

The 2023-24 recipient of the L. David Mech Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award is Amanda King. Amanda is a senior in wildlife with a minor in aquatic sciences. After graduation, she will be pursuing her master's at Virginia Tech studying northern long-eared bats in coastal New Jersey.

 

William A. Rafferty AwardKeegan Abeson receives the William A. Rafferty Award from Dr. Elizabeth Flaherty

William A. Rafferty was a friend of Purdue University’s College of Agriculture who operated a large farm near Morocco, Indiana. Rafferty believed in the ideals of honor, integrity, and patriotism. To commemorate William A. Rafferty, this award was established to recognize the potential for citizenship and leadership in a senior Wildlife student.

The 2023-24 recipient of the William A. Rafferty Award is Keegan Abeson.

Abeson is a senior majoring in wildlife with a minor in forest ecosystems. He is the current vice president of the Purdue Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and a co-leader of the Northern Saw-Whet Owl banding station. After graduation, Keegan will be spending the summer working on banding and tracking birds for a graduate student's project at Purdue. After that Keegan is pursuing a graduate school position, focusing on ornithology and migratory biology.

Other Awards

Forest Summerfield, a senior in forestry with a concentration in urban forestry, received the Indiana Arborist Association Ramsey Award. He also received the Bartlett Tree Foundation Scholarship, the Harvey Barb and Harvey Holt Urban Forestry Scholarship and the Davey Tree Foundation Aboricultural Scholarship. The Ramsey Award is given to a Purdue student who has a professional interest in some aspect of urban forestry. The award, which is given to students who have completed their sophomore year and are in good academic standing, is named in honor of Paul Ramsey, who was an outstanding professional arborist in Indiana

Summerfield plans to attend grad school and eventually do university extension work. He is the current president of the Purdue Student Society of Arboriculture and Vice President of the Purdue Society of Applied Fire Ecology. Forest is working on a project in Dr. Furze's lab to analyze tree ring widths in urban hotspots versus coolspots to compare growth rates.

Kathryn Buckles was honored with the Great Lakes Research Award, which is presented to an undergraduate student enrolled in an FNR major and conducting research focused on the Laurentian Great Lakes. The initial contribution for the award was made in the name of Dr. Tom Lauer, who earned his PhD from the department and focused his career on university education and Lake Michigan ecological research.

Katie is a junior majoring in Wildlife and minoring in Aquatic Sciences, and will be doing an education Internship at Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Indiana, this summer while continuing to work at Purdue's Aquaculture Research Lab in West Lafayette.

Forest Summerfield receives the Indiana Arborist Association Ramsey Award from Urban forestry specialist Ben McCallister; Amanda King receives the Great Lakes Research Award from Dr. Elizabeth Flaherty Forest Summerfield receives the Indiana Arborist Association Ramsey Award from Urban forestry specialist Ben McCallister; Amanda King receives the Great Lakes Research Award from Dr. Elizabeth Flaherty

Featured Stories

Mature open oak woodland with a diverse understory after implementing a shelterwood harvest and prescribed fire as stewardship practices.
Publication Teaches Landowners How to Support Oak-Hickory Ecosystems

Oak-hickory forests, which are comprised of a variety of different tree species, shrubs, grasses,...

Read More
Professor works in lab at Purdue
Purdue-led fishing expedition nets new pupfish family member in New Mexico

Scientists have identified a new member on the genetic family tree of an endangered pupfish...

Read More
Alex Dudley holds a black vulture; Alex is pictured through a hole in a rock formation; Alex holds her camera in front of a forested mountain landscape.
Meet FNR Outstanding Senior Alex Dudley

From her research on black vulture ecology in the Zollner lab and on digital forestry under Dr....

Read More
Dr. Rob Swihart, Bob Burke and others at an HTIRC meeting in 2016.
FNR Remembers Alumnus, HTIRC Advisory Committee Member Bob Burke

Robert Dean “Bob” Burke, who received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue...

Read More
John Couture in Martell Greenhouse at the Wright Center.
John Couture named University Faculty Scholar for multifaceted research in plant and insect ecology

John Couture has been chosen as a 2024 University Faculty Scholar for his exceptional research...

Read More
Aquatic sciences majors Ian Fleming, Isaac Jones, Yang Liu, Emma Engel, Emily Ragsdale, Megan Merryman, Colleen O’Toole, Kaitlyn Sinclair; Wildlife major Keegan Abeson; Wildlife majors Alexis Proudman, Anne Talbot, Sophia Flores and Ruby Sanders; wildlife major Katie Arnold.
FNR Celebrates Spring 2024 Graduates

Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources welcomed 62 individuals to its alumni ranks after the May...

Read More
To Top