Just weeks after earning an Associate of Science degree from Western Nevada College, Elana Ketchian is not spending the summer celebrating her accomplishment. Rather, she heads for a laboratory where she researches how yellow pine trees and plants have adapted to living in very acidic soils in the Peavine and Virginia mountains of Northern Nevada.
Ketchianâ€™s passion for science helped her earn a summer undergraduate research opportunity through the National Science Foundationâ€™s EPSCoR program. And commendably, it is the second straight NSF summer scholarship she has earned.
â€œI’m really excited to be working with Dr. Peter Weisberg this summer,â€ said Ketchian, who is conducting her research work under the tutelage of Weisberg, a landscape ecology professor in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Now a UNR undergraduate, Ketchian is gathering environmental and vegetative data that will be used to form an analysis of the patch species areas. She is collecting soils and observing the landscape.
â€œIn the lab, Iâ€™ve come to work with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and started learning the procedures of locating the patches and identifying their regions,â€ she said. â€œOverall, I hope to use what I have learned about spatial population dynamics to apply this concept to wildlife ecology and conservation methods in my career as a natural resource scientist.â€
Last summer, Ketchianâ€™s NSF fellowship enabled her to research at UNR, evaluating the utility of pressure transducers at wildlife water developments.
She is now pursuing a bachelorâ€™s degree in wildlife ecology and conservation at UNR.