SU alum mentored by Whitlow receives prestigious fellowship

August 15, 2012

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Michael Van Nuland (Biology '11), who as a student was mentored by Associate Professor of Biology Lindsay Whitlow, has received a highly prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to study community and evolutionary ecology.

At SU, Van Nuland collaborated with Whitlow to study the effects of urban development on terrestrial ecosystems. He compared the Seattle University campus grounds with similar habitats in multiple parks across the Seattle metropolitan area. Their results suggest biodiversity declines in areas surrounded by more urban development due to more frequent disturbance. However, they also found that SU campus has higher biodiversity than expected for its location in the heart of the city, potentially due to the SU Department of Grounds commitment to organic practices. 

Van Nuland has made presentations based on his research at multiple research conferences, including the National Council on Undergraduate Research and the Ecological Society of America. He and Whitlow have also submitted a manuscript for publication based on their work. Van Nuland is utilizing his NSF Graduate Research Fellowship as a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, beginning this fall.