Public Release: 

New Scholars Program To Enable Innovative Research To Answer Critical Needs Of America's National Parks

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Washington, DC, October 22, 1997 -- National Park Service (NPS) Director Robert Stanton and Canon U.S.A., Inc. President and CEO Haruo Murase, today announced the first four recipients of the newly created Canon National Parks Science Scholars program. These highly competitive academic awards will support a new generation of scientists working in the fields of conservation, environmental science, and park management.

The Canon National Parks Science Scholars program is the first and only of its kind to encourage doctoral students, using the national parks as their laboratories, to conduct innovative research on topics selected by the NPS. The student's research and findings will be applied directly to the contemporary and vital challenges facing the long-term preservation of the National Park System.

The program is underwritten by Canon U.S.A., Inc. Other collaborating organizations include the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Each doctoral candidate will receive $25,000 per year for up to three years, for a total of $75,000.

"Strengthening our role in science and resource management, while finding innovative ways to secure greater fiscal resources are major goals of the National Park Service as we head into the twenty-first century," said Stanton. "The Canon National Parks Science Scholars and the generous funding provided by Canon U.S.A. exemplifies public-private sector collaboration at its best, and will help us accomplish these goals. And, we all benefit from a program that will play such a pivotal role in developing the next generation of scientists in the National Parks."

According to Murase, "The Canon National Parks Science Scholars is one of the most important environmental initiatives we have ever funded. The future of our National Parks and other wildlands depends on those who are educated to understand their needs and manage them well. We now place this responsibility in the hands of the most talented doctoral candidates in the country, who must have every opportunity to excel at this formidable task.

"I'm grateful for the dedication and creativity demonstrated by all the organizations that made this possible. It was a true team effort," Murase added.

The students' road to the scholarship began when Ph.D. candidates from across the country were challenged to develop dissertation proposals on research questions selected by the National Park Service. In February, the AAAS, through its flagship publication Science, began the process of alerting universities and eligible students of the program's establishment. The research questions were in four broad discipline areas: the biological, physical, social, and cultural sciences. For example, the critical question posed for the biological sciences was: Within National Parks, what factors influence the vulnerability of habitats to nonnative (exotic) plant invasions' Through a highly competitive process, four students were selected by special scientific panels convened by AAAS.

"This program will create a cadre of experts who will show the rest of the world just how important it is to learn all we can about the significance of our National Parks," Shirley Malcom, Director of Education and Human Resource Programs at AAAS stressed. "Ultimately, future generations will reap the rewards from the program. Today, young scientists have a new path to follow as a profession that contributes greatly to the benefit of humankind."

The 1997 winners -- the first class of Canon National Parks Science Scholars -- and their dissertation topics are:

  • Andrew Suarez, of the University of California, San Diego (Biological Sciences); "Measuring the impact of exotic species in natural systems."
  • Tom Meixner, of the University of Arizona (Physical Sciences); The sensitivity of alpine catchments to changes in climate and atmospheric deposition."
  • Ilene Grossman-Bailey, Temple University (Cultural Sciences); "Native American resource use in the New Jersey outer coastal plain."
  • Dave Smyth, Michigan State University (Social Sciences); "Measuring the economic impact of National Parks."

Using the national parks as their laboratories, the students will complete their dissertation, prepare an article for park managers on the significance of their research, and present a public lecture about their work.

While young scientists will benefit from these scholarships, America's National Parks -- comprising some of the greatest natural and cultural settings in the world -- are the ultimate beneficiaries of this innovative program. The Canon National Parks Science Scholars program will nurture a new generation of environmental scientists, all of whom will have had first-hand exposure to, and understanding of, the challenges that face the most important and beloved treasures of the country.

The four collaborating organizations finalized details of the scholarships late last year, when Canon U.S.A., Inc. committed to the establishment of the program, as part of its multi-million dollar annual support to the environment through the company's Clean Earth Campaign. Canon U.S.A. announced this evening that it will multiply its efforts to a total of $2.5 million in scholarship funding over the next five years. Canon U.S.A.'s increased commitment will fund additional scholarships (8 per year beginning in 1999), and an annual Science Scholars Symposium. The annual symposium will provide a national forum for scientists to explore the role of science in preserving the national parks. Beginning in 1999, a $2,000 one-time Honorable Mention Award will be granted every year to one student in each of the four categories who submitted exemplary proposals but were not selected for a full scholarship. Ultimately, 32 students spread over the 5 years will be conducting research at or near a unit of the National Park System.

Said Jim Maddy, President of the National Park Foundation, "The rich natural resources of our National Parks deserve the utmost care to keep them intact for future generations to enjoy. We need absolutely the best science and the best people for these places. The Canon National Parks Science Scholars program will ensure that scientists of the first order devote their careers to studying and protecting the parks. We are delighted that Canon U.S.A. has provided such outstanding support to launch this program and are grateful to the Park Service and AAAS for their partnership."

- NPS -

National Parks Science Scholars Program
1997 Research Questions, Scholarship Winners and Dissertation Topics

Biological Sciences

Within national, what factors influence the vulnerability of habitats to nonnative (exotic) plant invasions?
Nonnative plants are both an ecological and management problem in many national parks. Some habitats within national parks are more vulnerable to invasion than others. Research is needed to identify the ecological and management conditions that influence or determine the vulnerability of natural systems to nonnative plant invasion. The results will be useful in developing new techniques for managing nonnative plants in national parks.

  • Andrew Suarez, of the University of California - San Diego, ( Biological Sciences); "Measuring the impact of exotic species in natural systems."

Physical Sciences

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For Immediate Release: 24 October 1997

Contact: Ellen Cooper
ecooper@aaas.org
202-326-6431
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Major New Scholars Program To Help Create Next Generation of Environmental Scientists

Washington, DC, October 22, 1997 -- National Park Service (NPS) Director Robert Stanton and Canon U.S.A., Inc. President and CEO Haruo Murase, today announced the first four recipients of the newly created Canon National Parks Science Scholars program. These highly competitive academic awards will support a new generation of scientists working in the fields of conservation, environmental science, and park management.

The Canon National Parks Science Scholars program is the first and only of its kind to encourage doctoral students, using the national parks as their laboratories, to conduct innovative research on topics selected by the NPS. The student's research and findings will be applied directly to the contemporary and vital challenges facing the long-term preservation of the National Park System.

The program is underwritten by Canon U.S.A., Inc. Other collaborating organizations include the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Each doctoral candidate will receive $25,000 per year for up to three years, for a total of $75,000.

"Strengthening our role in science and resource management, while finding innovative ways to secure greater fiscal resources are major goals of the National Park Service as we head into the twenty-first century," said Stanton. "The Canon National Parks Science Scholars and the generous funding provided by Canon U.S.A. exemplifies public-private sector collaboration at its best, and will help us accomplish these goals. And, we all benefit from a program that will play such a pivotal role in developing the next generation of scientists in the National Parks."

According to Murase, "The Canon National Parks Science Scholars is one of the most important environmental initiatives we have ever funded. The future of our National Parks and other wildlands depends on those who are educated to understand their needs and manage them well. We now place this responsibility in the hands of the most talented doctoral candidates in the country, who must have every opportunity to excel at this formidable task.

"I'm grateful for the dedication and creativity demonstrated by all the organizations that made this possible. It was a true team effort," Murase added.

The students' road to the scholarship began when Ph.D. candidates from across the country were challenged to develop dissertation proposals on research questions selected by the National Park Service. In February, the AAAS, through its flagship publication Science, began the process of alerting universities and eligible students of the program's establishment. The research questions were in four broad discipline areas: the biological, physical, social, and cultural sciences. For example, the critical question posed for the biological sciences was: Within National Parks, what factors influence the vulnerability of habitats to nonnative (exotic) plant invasions' Through a highly competitive process, four students were selected by special scientific panels convened by AAAS.

"This program will create a cadre of experts who will show the rest of the world just how important it is to learn all we can about the significance of our National Parks," Shirley Malcom, Director of Education and Human Resource Programs at AAAS stressed. "Ultimately, future generations will reap the rewards from the program. Today, young scientists have a new path to follow as a profession that contributes greatly to the benefit of humankind."

The 1997 winners -- the first class of Canon National Parks Science Scholars -- and their dissertation topics are:

  • Andrew Suarez, of the University of California, San Diego (Biological Sciences); "Measuring the impact of exotic species in natural systems."
  • Tom Meixner, of the University of Arizona (Physical Sciences); The sensitivity of alpine catchments to changes in climate and atmospheric deposition."
  • Ilene Grossman-Bailey, Temple University (Cultural Sciences); "Native American resource use in the New Jersey outer coastal plain."
  • Dave Smyth, Michigan State University (Social Sciences); "Measuring the economic impact of National Parks."

Using the national parks as their laboratories, the students will complete their dissertation, prepare an article for park managers on the significance of their research, and present a public lecture about their work.

While young scientists will benefit from these scholarships, America's National Parks -- comprising some of the greatest natural and cultural settings in the world -- are the ultimate beneficiaries of this innovative program. The Canon National Parks Science Scholars program will nurture a new generation of environmental scientists, all of whom will have had first-hand exposure to, and understanding of, the challenges that face the most important and beloved treasures of the country.

The four collaborating organizations finalized details of the scholarships late last year, when Canon U.S.A., Inc. committed to the establishment of the program, as part of its multi-million dollar annual support to the environment through the company's Clean Earth Campaign. Canon U.S.A. announced this evening that it will multiply its efforts to a total of $2.5 million in scholarship funding over the next five years. Canon U.S.A.'s increased commitment will fund additional scholarships (8 per year beginning in 1999), and an annual Science Scholars Symposium. The annual symposium will provide a national forum for scientists to explore the role of science in preserving the national parks. Beginning in 1999, a $2,000 one-time Honorable Mention Award will be granted every year to one student in each of the four categories who submitted exemplary proposals but were not selected for a full scholarship. Ultimately, 32 students spread over the 5 years will be conducting research at or near a unit of the National Park System.

Said Jim Maddy, President of the National Park Foundation, "The rich natural resources of our National Parks deserve the utmost care to keep them intact for future generations to enjoy. We need absolutely the best science and the best people for these places. The Canon National Parks Science Scholars program will ensure that scientists of the first order devote their careers to studying and protecting the parks. We are delighted that Canon U.S.A. has provided such outstanding support to launch this program and are grateful to the Park Service and AAAS for their partnership."

- NPS -

National Parks Science Scholars Program
1997 Research Questions, Scholarship Winners and Dissertation Topics

Biological Sciences

Within national, what factors influence the vulnerability of habitats to nonnative (exotic) plant invasions?
Nonnative plants are both an ecological and management problem in many national parks. Some habitats within national parks are more vulnerable to invasion than others. Research is needed to identify the ecological and management conditions that influence or determine the vulnerability of natural systems to nonnative plant invasion. The results will be useful in developing new techniques for managing nonnative plants in national parks.

  • Andrew Suarez, of the University of California - San Diego, ( Biological Sciences); "Measuring the impact of exotic species in natural systems."

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