The Trust awards an annual grant to a research fellow whose work will add to the park’s understanding of its wildlife, natural areas or history. The research results are instrumental in assisting park employees with resource protection planning. The most recent awardees include:
Dr. Jessica Rykken, Harvard University: Dr. Rykken is studying the status of Shenandoah National Park’s pollinators and creating a process that enables “citizen scientists” to continue monitoring these populations annually.
Dr. Christine May, James Madison University: Acid rain and other air pollutants ultimately deposit in lakes, river sand streams. Dr. May is investigating the health of Shenandoah’s native trout based on the health of regional air quality.
Ms. Ellen Frondorf, Bemidji State University: In 2017, your philanthropy supported Ellen’s research into oak and pine tree regeneration following the 10,000-acre Rocky Mount wildfire in Shenandoah National Park in April 2016, and the Rocky Top fire that burned approximately 1,400 acres in 2002.
Drs. Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, Alan Tepley, and Iara Larcher will model changes in the tree canopy from ash die-off, which is likely to bring more invasive exotic plants among other changes to the forest ecology. “Invasive insect pests and pathogens that kill trees can have dramatic impacts on our forests. One such invasive insect, the emerald ash borer, is expected to kill essentially all of the ash trees in Shenandoah National Park over the next several years.” said Dr. Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, Ecologist, Leader of CTFS-ForestGEO Ecosystems & Climate Initiative, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. “This grant will allow us to understand the potential short- and long-term impacts on forest health and to help park visitors process this unsettling event.”