June 24, 2014

Earned Associate of Science Degree in May

WNC Grad Nets Second NSF Research Opportunity

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.

Ketchian’s passion for science helped her earn a summer undergraduate research opportunity through the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program. And commendably, it is the second straight NSF summer scholarship she has earned.

“I'm really excited to be working with Dr. Peter Weisberg this summer,” 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.

“In the lab, I’ve come to work with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and started learning the procedures of locating the patches and identifying their regions,” she said. “Overall, 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.”

Last summer, Ketchian’s NSF fellowship enabled her to research at UNR, evaluating the utility of pressure transducers at wildlife water developments.
where her
She is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology and conservation at UNR.

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