University of New Mexico student Timothy Ohlert, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology, is one of 10 students selected by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) to be honored with this year’s Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA).

This award provides graduate students with the opportunity to receive policy and communication training in Washington, D.C. before they meet lawmakers.

“Scientists who are confident in their ability to communicate with decision-makers are needed more than ever to bridge the gap between science and policy,” said ESA President Laura Huenneke. “The Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award provides real-life, hands-on experience for early career ecologists. The Society is grateful to be able to assist a number of individuals each year in advancing their effectiveness in this crucial arena.”

Students will travel to D.C. this month to learn about the legislative process and federal science funding, to hear from ecologists working in federal agencies, and meet with their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. This Congressional Visit Day, organized and sponsored by ESA, offers GSPA recipients the chance to interact with policymakers and discuss the importance of federal funding for science, in particular the biological and ecological sciences.

Ohlert primarily conducts research at the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in New Mexico where he mentors undergraduate students through the Sevilleta’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Ohlert’s research is focused on the deserts of the southwest United States and desert plant community response to extreme climate events. He currently manages experiments simulating drought in the Chihuahuan, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts.

He also conducts research at the Central Arizona-Phoenix LTER, Cedar Creek LTER, and the Granite Mountain Desert Research Center. Additionally, he is active in global collaborative research programs including the Drought Network and the Nutrient Network. 

Ohlert grew up in Wisconsin and earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of Minnesota.

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in the science of ecology. 

For more information, visit the Ecological Society of America.