Courtesy of UCR Today
Courtesy of UCR Today

Heather Hulton VanTassel, a UCR graduate student in ecology, has received a $15,000 research fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. The foundation supports individuals and organizations who are committed to research and solving environmental problems.

VanTassel’s research studies how a variety of species — from birds to invertebrates — respond to environmental disturbances such as fires and non-native grass species. This highlights the importance of incorporating landscape complexity in research to analyze the effects of species’ responses to a disturbance in their environment.

Robert Switzer, one of the founders of the fellowship, was also a founder of the Day-Glo Corporation, which focuses on the production of daylight fluorescent chemicals. As a lifelong environmentalist, he and his wife Patricia founded the fellowship in 1985 to help fund graduate students dedicated to environmental problem solving.

VanTassel is expected to finish her doctorate in the spring with a larger career goal of educating landowners on how to best manage landscapes to maintain or increase biodiversity.

“I am honored to receive this fellowship and be part of a community that strives to make positive environmental changes,” she told UCR Today.