SFWS to Launch New Undergraduate Degree in Geospatial and Environmental Informatics

GISDesktopImagePowerful new technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), the global positioning system (GPS), satellite based remote sensing (RS), and computer simulation have penetrated every aspect of our lives, from digital maps in vehicles to the management and maintenance of city infrastructure, regional forest and agriculture lands. Geospatial technology refers to all of the software applications that are used to acquire, manipulate, and store geographic information.

It is expected that the GIS industry will experience continuous growth in the United States requiring the number of geospatial workers to increase from its current 850,000 nationwide to around 1.2 million by 2018 (GeoTech). As a result, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS) has developed the Geospatial and Environmental Informatics (GSEI) degree program with other units on campus including Geology and Computer Science, to meet this increasing demand of professionals. According to SFWS Dean, Janaki Alavalapati, “GSEI graduates can anticipate a wide variety of career opportunities as planners, analysts, consultants, resource managers or developers within public agencies and government, as well as private corporations, consulting firms, NGO and other international organizations.”

SFWS research and curriculum intensely utilize geospatial informatics because sustainable management of forests, wildlife, natural resources and the environment requires a spatially-explicit approach. States Dr. Scott Enebak, SFWS Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, “The new program complements the existing SFWS degree programs of Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resource Management, along with other courses on campus, to enhance the skills and knowledge of undergraduate students in remote sensing, GIS, photogrammetry, cartography and computer simulations and builds upon existing strengths in spatial analysis and modeling.”

The GSEI degree program is designed to provide students rigorous training in fundamental theories, concepts, quantitative tools, analytical technologies and research skills that are used to acquire spatially referenced information and analyze spatial processes. Dr. B. Graeme Lockaby, McClure Professor and SFWS Associate Dean of Research noted, “This interdisciplinary approach of this new degree brings together information technology, spatial science, data analysis, natural resources and ecological modeling that enable us to explore and apply these new technologies and science to the sustainable management of the natural world.”

Purposefully, the GSEI program has been aligned with the interdisciplinary program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) designed to enhance knowledge across multiple fields including ecology, agriculture, geosciences, climate change and civil engineering. This STEM approach supports Auburn University’s goals and priorities in terms of enhancing student success and preparing them for the job market.

The new undergraduate degree was approved by the AU Board of Trustees in June. Pending approval by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), students currently enrolled in required courses may apply their credit toward the degree beginning Fall 2017. For more information about the degree, contact SFWS Director of GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Dr. Susan Pan, at panshuf@auburn.edu or SFWS Office of Student Services at workingwithnature@auburn.edu.

Loewenstein Receives Educator of the Year Award



Congratulations to Dr. Nancy Loewenstein, SFWS Research Fellow and Extension Specialist, for her recent award as the 2016 Alabama Project Learning Tree Educator of the Year by the Alabama Forestry Association! Loewenstein is recognized for her instruction, volunteer service and leadership role within Alabama as an advocate for the program. Project Learning Tree provides award-winning environmental education programs for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.

To learn more about Alabama Project Learning Tree, visit http://www.alaforestry.org/?page=plt






Barlow, Dupree and Freeman Win National Communications Award

2016 ACE Awards2CRPD

ACE Director, Dr. Gary Lemme, is shown left to right with Barlow’s team members, Bruce Dupree and Glenda Freeman.


SFWS Associate Professor and Alabama Extension Specialist, Becky Barlow, was recognized with Alabama Extension communications and marketing team members, Bruce Dupree and Glenda Freeman, as a recipient of the prestigious Association of Communication Excellence (ACE) Outstanding Professional Skill Award for Graphic Design for their work producing the Alabama Extension Longleaf Pine Habitat Poster.

ACE serves as the professional development organization for communications professionals based at land grant institutions like Auburn University.  The Association of Communication Excellence gave 55 awards in eleven major areas at its recent national conference.  Alabama Extension brought home almost 20 percent of those awards.

One of Alabama Extension’s iBook titles brought home the top award for publishing from ACE–marking the first time the traditionally print oriented award has been given to a digital publication. Alabama Extension also received gold awards in graphic design for the Longleaf Pine Habitat poster and the National Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program logo. In addition, the group took home three bronze awards in graphic design.

Alabama Extension Director Gary Lemme says that a collective shift in mindset was a key to this year’s success. “This dramatic showing is the result of an innovative restructuring and reinvention of how we work,” he said.  “We have moved away from traditional publications to creative teams of scientists and communicators who build cutting-edge communications products.”

It is this team effort that Barlow credits for the success of the project. “Bruce took an idea and turned it into a beautiful graphic.  Glenda coordinated everything and made sure all the text was correct,” noted Barlow.  Faculty and staff of the SFWS and Biology were also instrumental in reviewing the design to ensure the landscape and wildlife were represented in a reasonable way.

For more information about the ACE awards program visit https://www.aceweb.org/awards.


SFWS Honors Eighteen Students at Summer Graduation Reception

SFWS Associate Dean of Research, B. Graeme Lockaby, shown (L to R) with natural resources graduate student, Enis Baltaci, and SFWS Graduate Research Coordinator, Audrey Grindle.

SFWS Associate Dean of Research, B. Graeme Lockaby, shown (L to R) at the reception with Natural Resources graduate student, Enis Baltaci, and SFWS Graduate Research Coordinator, Audrey Grindle.


The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences hosted its Summer Graduation Ceremony and Reception on August 6. Dean Janaki Alavalapati and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Scott Enebak, led the ceremony to honor 8 graduate and 10 undergraduate students. Graduating Wildlife Sciences Master’s student, Elizabeth Tripp acted as Graduation Marshal. The following degrees were conferred:

Graduate students included:

MS, Natural Resources
Enis Baltaci (Maj. Prof, Kalin), Furkan Dosdogru (Maj. Prof, Kalin)

MS, Wildlife Sciences
Michael Glow (Maj. Prof, Ditchkoff), Kevin Ryer (Maj. Prof, McGowan), Jeff Sullivan (Maj. Prof, Ditchkoff), Helen Tripp (Maj. Prof, Gitzen)

MS, Forestry
Seth Hunt (Maj. Prof, Barlow)

PhD, Forestry
Bowen Zhang (Maj. Prof, Tian)

Undergraduate students included:

Luke Carlson, Cameron Coley, James Dressler, Joshua Craig Hendon, Emory Owen, Richard Wilfong

Wildlife Ecology and Management
Brannon Burt, Hoke Smith

Natural Resources Management
James Fulmer, Amberly Ware



Zohdy Leads Research Team in Madagascar

Shown in photo left to right are, Gabe, Victoria, Dr. Sarah Zohdy, Njara, and Jordan.

Shown in photo left to right are, Gabe, Victoria, Dr. Sarah Zohdy, Njara, and Jordan.

SFWS Assistant Professor of Disease Ecology, Sarah Zohdy, recently led a student team to investigate research sites in the rain forests of Madagascar for the team’s research project, “Can Conservation Improve Human Health? Vector Ecology and Transmission Dynamics in Humans and Wildlife in Andasibe, Madagascar, using Association Mitsinjo as a model.” Association Mitsinjo is a community driven conservation effort in the rain forests of Madagascar with missions dedicated to wildlife conservation, education, and reforestation (https://associationmitsinjo.wordpress.com/).

Through a One Health approach (the concept that human health, environmental health, and animal health are intrinsically linked), the team aims to evaluate strategies to improve ecosystem health in poverty stricken Madagascar, where endemic wildlife, such as Madagascar’s lemurs, are threatened due to habitat loss, and human health and economic stability is simultaneously compromised due to the vector-borne disease impacts of deforestation – a reality for those living in poverty and relying on subsistence agriculture for survival.

In addition to their field work, SFWS Wildlife undergraduate student, Jordan Broadhead, AU Veterinary student and Merial Scholar, Victoria Crabtree, and Emory University undergraduate volunteer, Gabe Andrle, participated in several education, conservation, and health outreach programs within local communities over the course of the summer. The team also included, Malagasy graduate student Njaratiana Raharinoro, and several other Malagasy field technicians and conservation biologists.

We invite you to share this amazing experience with them through their own words, photography and videos. Visit:

Victoria’s travel blog at https://lemursweb.wordpress.com/2016/05/

Gabe’s YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcveYq1gJgWF19o4Ty1yvJg

Learn more about Dr. Zohdy’s research at https://wp.auburn.edu/zohdylab/

Smith Appointed as Mosely Environmental Professor



Mark Smith, SFWS associate professor and extension specialist, has been selected for the Mosley Environmental Professorship and will serve as the Executive Secretary for the W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Awards Program Steering and Selection Committee.  For over 30 years, the awards program has given recognition for outstanding volunteer efforts in forestry, wildlife, fisheries, soil, water, air, wildflowers, non-game wildlife, environmental education, conservation, and urban forestry resulting in the wiser use of the natural resources of Alabama.  The fundamental mission of the Mosley Environmental Award is to identify and reward “unsung heroes” who have voluntarily contributed significantly to the wise stewardship of Alabama’s natural resources. To learn more about the Mosley Environmental Awards Program or to submit a nomination, please visit http://www.aces.edu/natural-resources/mosley/.






Barlow Selected as 2016 Ralph Shug Jordan Professorship of Writing

BarlowThe Auburn University Writing Center recently selected Becky Barlow, SFWS associate professor and Alabama Extension specialist, as its third Jordan Professor of Writing. The Ralph “Shug” Jordan Professorship of Writing was established by the Auburn University Athletic Department and Tigers Unlimited in memory of the beloved coach to improve writing and writing instruction at Auburn.

For Barlow, the nomination has personal significance as well. “Eleven years ago when it was determined that my son, now 17, is dyslexic, my perceptions about student writing and literacy shifted dramatically.  I began to understand how difficult writing can be,” stated Barlow. It was this perspective born from working with dyslexic students that transformed Barlow’s approach to incorporating and teaching writing skills to forestry and wildlife students.

Barlow looks forward to continuing this meaningful work with the Miller Writing Center. “I am really honored to have been awarded this professorship and look forward to promoting writing across campus, especially in disciplines like math and science where writing historically has been limited.”

Nominations or applications are accepted by tenured faculty who have demonstrated a commitment to student success through attention to writing in the core curriculum. Nominees are asked to submit an extensive packet of materials for review, including supporting letters from their department heads and deans, sample course materials and syllabi that demonstrate the importance of writing to their courses, student evaluations, and a reflective statement on student writing.

The selection committee noted Barlow’s service to the University Writing Committee, the range and quality of writing instruction she has included in her courses, her advocacy for supporting the writing initiative within the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, including working to develop a satellite of the Miller Writing Center staffed by Graduate Students in the College who are trained by the Center.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to work more closely with Dr. Barlow over the next three years,” said Dr. Margaret Marshall, Director of University Writing. “We know she has good ideas and the energy to see them through.”

For more information about the Miller Writing Center and its services, visit http://wp.auburn.edu/writing/writing-center/ .



Wildlife Graduate Student, Rebecca John, Receives Graduate Student Research Grant

RebeccaJohn SFWS wildlife graduate student, Rebecca John, has received the Graduate Student Thesis/Dissertation Research Grant award from the Graduate School Fellowship Committee.

Rebecca’s faculty advisor is SFWS Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology and Conservation, Robert Gitzen. Her master’s work focuses on locating green salamanders (Aneides aeneus) in northern Alabama by building an occupancy model and tracking their movements; a type of research method that has never been done before for the species.

Rebecca plans to use the grant funding to purchase field equipment for the project. She will spend the summer in northern Alabama surveying and collecting environmental data that will enable scientists to predict where this species of high conservation concern may be found. States John, “Most exciting to me is that this grant will allow me the opportunity to validate my model across multiple locations, which will make my research inferences stronger.”

John was also the recipient of the Student Travel Award from the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. She will be attending the JMIH (Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists) national conference in New Orleans from July 6-11 to present some of her master’s work. Her presentation is titled: Occupancy and Detection of Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.



KPNC Hosts 3rd Annual S’more Fun with Mom

Mother and son enjoying a cookout during the 3rd Annual S’more Fun with Mom.

Mother and son enjoying a cookout during the 3rd Annual S’more Fun with Mom.

The Kreher Preserve and Nature Center (KPNC), an School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences community outreach program, cohosted the third annual S’more Fun with Mom with the City of Auburn this past May. Mothers and sons shared an evening packed with arts and crafts, a cookout, hiking, roasting s’mores, and storytelling. The annual event is a Mother’s Day tradition for many families. Wendy Gray, assistant professor in Auburn University’s Department of Psychology, remarked “It is an event we look forward to each year. I appreciate the opportunity to have a night that is just for my son and I.”

The pairs spent much of the evening bonding around a fire through roasting marshmallows and laughing with each other. Guests also enjoyed a cook out dinner, courtesy of Publix and Sam’s Club, and crafting a nature themed bulletin board, in partnership with Home Depot. Participants also went on an evening nature hike in search of nocturnal animals. The groups were thrilled to sight an opossum and snake in their natural habitats.

Sarah Crim, Auburn resident and alumna of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, shared “My son and I always look forward to the S’more Fun with Mom event held at the KPNC.  This was our third year in attending and every year gets better!”  The event is an annual favorite for both City of Auburn residents and supporters of the KPNC. Becky Richardson, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City Of Auburn, remarked “We enjoy partnering with the Kreher Preserve on the S’more Fun with Mom event.  It is a lot of fun and our citizens really seem to enjoy it.”

The KPNC, established in 1993 by a gift of land from Louise Kreher Turner and Frank Allen Turner, is a 120-acre property located just north of Auburn. The preserve features five miles of hiking trails, amphitheater, pavilion, nature playground, turtle pond and many gardens and other natural features. It offers community programs throughout the year and is open to the public daily at no charge from sunrise to sunset.

Written by Katie Marberry



SFWS Honors 52 Graduates During Spring Graduation Ceremony

DSC_0078The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences hosted its Spring Graduation Ceremony and Reception on May 8. The ceremony, hosted by Dean Janaki Alavalapati, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Scott Enebak, and Director of Student Services, Jodie Kenney, honored 38 undergraduate and 14 graduate students and was attended by 150 faculty, students, and family members. Recipient of the SFWS President’s Award, natural resources management student, Scott McClure, acted as Graduation Marshal.

Graduating students included:

MS, Natural ResourcesForestryWildlife Ecology and Management
Michael Douglas HeneghanBenjamin Riggs BaileyHunter Anderson
Jason BeasleyDustin Duffie
MS, Wildlife SciencesWilliam BrownErin Dye
Lenora Marilyn DombroDalton BurnsLaura Garland
Kylee DunhamJaren CarterGehrig Hall
Thomas Jared CookFaith Lyles
MS, ForestryHarold CooleyMelanie OToole
Ali KucumenDavid CorlissFoster Pugh
Michael Cody CumbieTori Stackhouse
PHD, ForestryHunter Ginn
Arnold M. Brodbeck, IVHannah GregsonNatural Resources Management
Tyler LukerTaylor Craft
MNR, MS Natural Resources Wayde MatthewsJonathan Muller
(Non-thesis)Dustin MorganElizabeth Reidenbach
Taylor Patrice GrahamLee PentecostAmberly Ware
Mary Lacy Lee KamberPhillip PughAmanda White
Brandon James LoomisMallan Sheffield
Mary Susan PruittMatthew SorrellsWildlife Sciences, Pre-Veterinarian
David Cole WestScott McClure
PHD, Applied Economics John YoungVictoria Vazin
(Forestry)Ryan YoungSteve Williamson
Hakan Uslu
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