F&ES Creates William R. Burch Prize
To Honor Student Research at TRI

Bill Burch prize anounced
Peter Otis/peter.otisphotos.com
William Burch, center, during the announcement of the William R. Burch Prize during Reunion Weekend.
The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) this week announced the creation of a new student award, the William R. Burch Prize, which is named in honor of the founder of the School’s influential Tropical Resources Institute. Beginning in 2015, the $1,000 cash prize will be awarded annually to the best paper written by a TRI Fellow.
 
The Tropical Resources Institute, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is an interdisciplinary center that promotes student research in the world's tropical environments. Since its inception in 1984, TRI has sponsored more than 600 TRI Fellows and their student research projects, and helped them publish their scholarly work in the TRI Bulletin and other academic journals. 
 
William “Bill” Burch, the Frederick C. Hixon Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources Management at F&ES, conducted some of the earliest work on community and social forestry systems, which continues with work in Nepal, Thailand, China, and inner cities of the United States. He retired in 2008 after four decades on the F&ES faculty.
 
“In addition to Bill’s own research contributions, he had much to do with mentoring these students, a great many of whom have gone on to become top researchers, teachers and professionals,” said F&ES Dean Peter Crane, who announced the new award on Oct. 11 during the School’s Reunion Weekend. “It is an honor to establish this new Prize to recognize Bill's longstanding contributions to TRI, and to create a lasting legacy of scholarly excellence.”
My hope is that it will inspire future TRI fellows to pursue interdisciplinary tropical forestry and ecology research that serves the needs of the local people and their ecosystems.
— William Burch
“It’s an honor to have this prize named after me as part of TRI’s 30th year anniversary,” Burch said. “My hope is that it will inspire future TRI fellows to pursue interdisciplinary tropical forestry and ecology research that serves the needs of the local people and their ecosystems along with advancing scholarly excellence in such work.”


Burch was a principal founder and the first director of TRI, and has served on the Advisory Board for TRI since its founding.

“The appointment of a social scientist to direct the nascent Tropical Resources Institute was, in hindsight, one of the first interdisciplinary research appointments, establishing equivalent roles for social science and traditional botany and zoology in terms of conserving the people and forests of the tropics,” said Simon Queenborough, the current Musser Director of the Tropical Resources Institute.
 
“Bill Burch had a big impact on the numerous TRI Fellows that he inspired and through his work on social ecology in general. He was one of the first people to do the kinds of research he was doing, by equating human and ‘natural’ ecosystems and examining them both with the same rigor over the long term. He is certainly a tough act to follow.”
 
School leaders hope the Burch Prize will be an inspiration to our students to pursue research in tropical forestry and ecology, and produce top-notch scholarly papers.  
 
This fall, the School will reach out to TRI alumni to encourage them to make contributions to help fund the prize. 
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PUBLISHED: October 14, 2014
 

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