Travis Guy first fell in love with ecological research as an undergraduate biology major at The College of Idaho. Today, Guy is continuing to pursue his passion thanks to a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship that will support his research for the next three years.
Guy, a University of Florida graduate student and 2006 C of I alumnus, will receive a $32,000 stipend and $12,000 education allowance annually thanks to the fellowship, which is one of the most prestigious awards offered to graduate students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. The fellowship will help fund Guy’s research in Kenya, where he is studying pollination networks and their relationships to large herbivores such as elephants and giraffes.
“I couldn’t believe it – I thought it was a cruel April fool’s joke,” Guy said of receiving the fellowship. “But it’s a great honor. It will allow me to spend a lot more time in Kenya, and it also makes pursuing a Ph.D. a lot more plausible.”
Guy’s love of wildlife research began at the C of I, where he took advantage of undergraduate research and internship opportunities to study black bears and toads in Rocky Mountain National Park, coastal ecology in Australia and crabs off the coast of Maine. Since earning his bachelor’s degree in 2006, Guy has spent two Antarctic summers at McMurdo Station and is now working toward his master’s degree in zoology with a focus in wildlife ecology at the University of Florida.
“It's not lost on me that a good portion of my strong [NSF Fellowship] application came from the opportunities and guidance I had at the College,” Guy said. “I had opportunities to go out and perform research in the field, and I’ve had a lot of support from the College and my professors along the way.”
C of I biology professor Dr. Chris Walser served as a reference on Guy’s NSF application. The focus of the project in Kenya is to see how communities of pollinators such as bees and butterflies are affected by the potential extinction of large herbivores –important information for agriculturalists in an area where elephants and giraffes are threatened species. Guy also received a Tropical Conservation and Development Field Research Grant worth $2,000 from the University of Florida to go toward his work in Kenya.
“Our world needs more professionals who are dedicated to understanding how nature functions, to understanding and improving the impact of human activities and – perhaps most importantly – to communicating the importance of nature to the broader public,” Guy said.
To learn more about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program, visit www.nsfgrfp.org.
Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 12 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.