News & Announcements

Statement from OEB Program Leader, Paige Warren

I echo the sadness and concern expressed by our Chancellor and others about the recent acts of violence and intimidation against Black people and other marginalized groups. I know that we in the OEB community reject racism and violence, and we send our condolences and support to the families and friends of those who have been killed. I also recognize that some of our community members are currently feeling devastated by recent events, and may be finding it hard to focus on their work. I encourage advisors and peers to be kind, patient, and generous; ask if your students and colleagues need help. While diversity in OEB has increased over the time I have been at UMass, our community still has no Black graduate students and very few Black faculty members. Among the important actions that we can take going forward is to consider why that is and how we can change it. I will be talking with our newly formed Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee about other actions that we can take to continue fostering the inclusive community we aim to be. I welcome and encourage others to contribute to this effort. The Ecological Society of America has shared a message that provides some helpful suggestions for becoming a positive force for change in our communities, our disciplines, and in the wider world:

One article I'd like to highlight provides a call for graduate advisors to openly discuss the impacts of racism with our lab groups:

Every member of our community is responsible for creating a safe, inclusive work environment. I encourage everyone to consider steps that they can take to help achieve this, both within OEB and at UMass Amherst. Individual actions matter, even small ones.


John Swenson wins Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship from the American Fisheries Society

John Swenson received the prestigious Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship from the American Fisheries Society in the amount of $10,000. The committee praised his proposal as addressing "a subject of key importance in marine conservation." Way to go, John!

Lian  Guo, Elsa Cousins and Kadambari Devarajan win OEB Research Awards

Lian Guo received the Irwin Martin research award for her proposal on "Testing Thermal Sensitivity to Understand Differential Climate Effects in River Herring." The Irwin Martin Award is provided by a generous OEB donor to support graduate student research. 

Elsa Cousins and Kadambari Devarajan each received an OEB research grant award for their proposed research on secondary defense chemicals in non-native mustard (Elsa) and effects of species interactions on carnivore community structure (Kadambari).

Dr. Paige Warren Wins Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award

Paige Warren

OEB Graduate Program Director Paige Warren has been selected by the Graduate School as one of this year's three Distinguished Graduate Mentors. Each year, the Graduate School recognizes three outstanding members of the faculty based on nominations by their peers on the graduate faculty and supporting letters by students and colleagues. These nominations showcase the many ways in which faculty mentors provide extraordinary guidance in research, excellent teaching in both formal and informal settings, and strong support for students' professional development as they prepare for their chosen careers. This year's awards also recognize winners for making significant and consistent contributions to promoting diversity and inclusion in graduate education at UMass, and for supporting not only their own advisees but other graduate students as well.

Congratulations, Paige!

OEB students continue with their accomplishments this semester:

Joe Drake published a cool blog piece on collaborative research he is co-leading:

Kadambari Devarajan's research was highlighted in an article by the Wildlife Society:

She was also awarded a $10,000 National Geographic Early Career Grant and has joined the cohort of 2020 National Geographic Explorers. And she was selected to be one of 4 students from across the university to represent UMass at the CASE workshop organized by AAAS this year. Unfortunately, the workshop has been postponed due to the pandemic.

Jake Barnett, Laura Hancock, Mayrolin Morales, and Josh Moyer were awarded a UMass Natural History Collections scholarship for the summer.

John Swenson was awarded  a $7,300 Small Grant from the Save Our Seas Foundation to develop molecular resources that will help facilitate his thesis research on cownose rays.

Alex Winsor, first-year OEB student,  published a paper from his previous work:   “Methods for independently manipulating palatability and color in small insect prey” in PLOS One. 

Kit Straley was selected as Fish and Wildlife Service Directorate Fellow for the summer. The competitive program offers 11-week fellowships working on projects that support FWS Conservation priorities.

Seanne Clemente was awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship,

Incoming student Katrina Smith received Honorable Mention for her NSF GRF application.

Congratulations to everyone!

Digital Life on Earth
UMass Amherst’s Digital Life Project creates visual records of critically endangered species


The Digital Life Project at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been revolutionary in creating visual records of critically endangered species in ways that technology has never allowed before.

The project team modeled the first-ever 3D image of a southern right whale after researchers used aerial photography and drone videos to measure the mass and volume of whales. Previously, the only way to weigh any whale was by using a dead or stranded animal. Using its innovative Beastcam array, the team has also produced the world’s first accurate 3D image of the southern white rhino.

Led by Professor of Biology Duncan Irschick, the Digital Life Project has gathered a number of global collaborators. Documenting southern right whales as they gathered at their winter breeding grounds off the coast of Argentina involved participants from the Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program and the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark. To create the visual of a rare southern white rhino, Irschick and team collaborated with the Perth Zoo in Australia, which volunteered its resident rhino, Bakari, to be photographed.  Read More

 Kadambari  Devarajan Awarded $10,000 Grant by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration

Congratulations to KD! The National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration has awarded her a grant in the amount of $10,000. This award is in support of KD's proposed project, "The effects of species interactions on carnivore community composition and dynamics."

A new article by OEB's own Kadambari Devarajan was highlighted by the UMass News Office

Three OEB Students Receive Lotta M. Crabtree Fellowships

A great way to welcome in 2020 is to celebrate our three latest Lotta Crabtree fellows: Jake Barnett, Seanne Clemente, and Carolina Munoz-Agudelo. The Lotta M. Crabtree Fellowship in Production Agriculture supports UMass students pursuing research that aims to improve agriculture.

Congratulations, Jake, Caro, and Seanne!

3 OEB Students  Awarded Research Grants

Three OEB students were awarded grants through the UMass Graduate School research grants program. Chaise Gilbert has received a Dissertation Research Grant. Kadambari Devarajan and Josh Moyer have received Fieldwork Grants. Congratulations to Chaise, Kadambari, and Josh!