6, 2010 -- Growing up hunting and fishing in the Northern Arapaho
Tribe on the Wind River Indian Reservation, Ernest Lawson has always
been an outdoors enthusiast, but he had no idea that his interest
would lead to a research position and several major research scholarships
while attending the University of Wyoming.
academic year, Lawson received the Wyoming National Science Foundation
EpSCoR Undergraduate Research Fellowship and a Wyoming NASA Space
Grant Consortium Award. He conducts field research in southwestern
Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest that involves measuring snow
depth along the sagebrush-conifer landscape. The work is part of
a study designed to better understand the role of climate change
and bark beetles on forest ecosystems and adjacent plant communities.
is a student with UW's American Studies Program and the Haub School
of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).
am the first member of my family to attend college, and my community
was really happy to hear that I received this honor and funding
support for this research," Lawson says.
research team and mentors, Bill Lauenroth, an expert in plant community
ecology and ecohydrology, and Post Doctoral Research Associate Daniel
Schlaepfer, both with the UW Department of Botany, are using the
data collected by Lawson to conduct computer simulations to assess
the affects of climate change (drought and high participation years)
on these natural systems.
only does Lawson considers himself a research apprentice, he has
proven himself to be a leader of other students interested in combining
their curriculum with real-world applications in the field. Lauenroth,
along with faculty members in American Studies and ENR, highly recommended
Lawson for the scholarships.
is an exemplary student because of his academic performance as well
as his tireless work in the field and the laboratory," Lauenroth
was also recently awarded the Chief Washakie Memorial Scholarship,
Northern Arapaho Endowment, and the John and Ada Thorpe Scholarship.
These additional awards will support his tuition and fees in the
coming academic year.
is an example for how American Indian students can take advantage
of the university's programs and fellowship opportunities. With
his tribe's long ties to the landscape, this project, which was
designed to better understand the relationships between precipitation,
the forest ecosystem and sagebrush, is a good fit for him,"
always associated with the Wyoming landscape, is a keystone species
for a variety of wildlife. "Our research will help us know
more about this important plant species and what it needs to survive
long term," Lawson says.
has proven to be an ideal testing grounds for this research because
of the high, open arid country and the proximity of sagebrush to
adjacent forest areas. Dense stands of conifer trees and snow depth
on the forest floor play a significant role in the plant's growth
and adaptability, he says. Another aspect of the research is to
better understand pine beetle outbreaks in Wyoming's forests.
EpSCoR fellowship that helped launch his applied research has provided
Lawson with a stepping stone to a possible career in natural resource
would like to learn more about operating a laboratory so I can bring
that knowledge back to the Northern Arapaho nation and the reservation,"