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IGERT Trainees Honored with Presidential Fellowships from the University of Nebraska


Recipients of 2014-15 Presidential Graduate Fellowships were recently announced by the University of Nebraska Interim President, Dr. James Linder. This year, fellowships were presented to three students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Two of three are IGERT trainees: Danielle Haak and Trisha Spanbauer. Stipends received through the Fellowship will allow Danielle (School of Natural Resource Sciences) and Trisha (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) to continue to pursue their research following completion of their IGERT funding.

“The students who are honored with Presidential Graduate Fellows are among the University of Nebraska’s best and brightest. We are very fortunate to enjoy a level of private support that allows us to recognize these scholars and give them an opportunity to devote themselves fully to their academic pursuits,” Linder said. “While still in school, these students have already made important contributions to their scholarly fields. I’m certain we will continue to see great things from them.”

Haak’s research interests include ecological resilience, biodiversity, aquatic invasive species and organism energetics. She has spent significant time studying the Chinese mystery snail in order to understand the ecological or economic harm an organism can cause in a new environment where it is not native. In the last 18 months, Haak has published five peer-reviewed articles and participated in UNL’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program, which took her on a 10-week international trip where she collaborated with scientists from Austria, Hungary, France and Poland.
Haak is currently participating in the Young Scientists Summer Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, researching how humans influence species movement and energetics in southeastern Nebraska’s Salt Valley reservoirs. Through her dissertation research, Haak hopes to identify problem species and compare management actions across countries to develop innovative solutions that impact the field of invasion ecology.

Spanbauer’s research is at the intersection of micropaleontology and evolutionary biology and centers on understanding the evolution and diversity of microscopic species of freshwater algae. She is a member of UNL’s IGERT program and has substantial experience in community outreach involving the education of different audiences about environmental science.