F&ES Students Take Annual Research Conference Virtual

Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.

A group of master’s students, doctoral students and postdocs from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) presented their research during the 36thannual F&ES Research Conference on April 17.
Like most current happenings, this year’s conference was a bit different. The day-long event was held entirely online, with student researchers uploading oral presentations of their individual scholarship and audience members engaging with the researchers through online discussion boards.
While the format created “unexpected challenges,” it also led to unique opportunities for feedback and collaboration, said Sara Smiley Smith, assistant dean of academic affairs, research and sustainability. 
“We had great feedback from both participants and attendees, many of whom shared how much they enjoyed being able to browse all of the presentations at their own pace rather than choosing one session over another,” said Smiley Smith. 
During the conference, Peter Umunay ’20 Ph.D., ’14 M.F.S. was presented with the F. Herbert Bormann Prize, which honors a doctoral student whose work best exemplifies the late Yale professor’s legacy of interdisciplinary research creating insights into the relationship between humans and the environment. Umunay’s research is focused on logging emissions and potential emission reductions from reduced-impact logging in Africa’s Congo River Basin.
The School also presented the Oswald Schmitz Award for Excellence in Research Communication, which honors the best doctoral student presentation. The winner was A. Andis, a Ph.D. candidate who presented a longterm study on the phenological and developmental responses of wood frogs to climate change.
The award for the best Master’s student presentation was given to Lorena Benitez ’20 M.E.Sc. for her work on how fruit trees influence elephant movement in East African forests.
This year’s conference featured a new award for the best talk presented during the School’s new research community speaker series. Each week, researchers were challenged to communicate their research to a multidisciplinary audience, which provided feedback and rated the presenter’s ability to communicate their work. The winner was Ph.D. student Dan Kane for his presentation on the potential for soil carbon to mitigate crop yield losses and insurance payments during bad weather years.
The day-long conference was capped by a keynote address from Rae Wynn-Grant ’10 M.E.Sc., a large carnivore ecologist and National Geographic Society Fellow.
– Josh Anusewicz    joshua.anusewicz@yale.edu    203 436-8994