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Ohio University students win Fulbright awards in the sciences

ATHENS, Ohio (May 12, 2006) -- Ohio University students Phillip Allman and Melanie Schori have won Fulbright awards in the natural sciences. Allman, a doctoral candidate in biological sciences, will spend the 2006-07 year launching a sea turtle conservation project in Ghana.  Schori, a doctoral student in environmental and plant biology, will study a genus of forest trees in the Philippines. 

Photo by Rick Fatica"The selection of Phil Allman and Melanie Schori for Fulbright awards highlights the strength of Ohio University's natural sciences programs," said Beth Clodfelter, Ohio University's Fulbright U.S. Student Program adviser. "It is exciting that the Fulbright awards will enable them to conduct these important research projects. Phil's research will help coastal Ghanaian communities improve and expand their strategies for protecting endangered sea turtles. Melanie plans to confer with Filipino foresters and conservationists, who may both contribute to and benefit from her research." 

In the Ghanaian village of Ada, Allman will initiate a community-based sea turtle conservation program involving collaboration between organizations in the United States and Ghana. He will work with community members to conduct nightly sea turtle nesting surveys and collect data to complete the World Conservation Union Action Plan for the Conservation of Sea Turtles in West Africa. His project will enable the community in Ada to realize the economic benefit of protecting endangered sea turtles by promoting international tourism. 

Allman earned a bachelor's degree in marine biology and chemistry from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and a master's degree in biological sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Allman will complete his doctoral degree in June and plans to secure a faculty position at a university or college that will allow him to continue his research on the conservation of sea turtles in developing countries. 

"I am very honored to be selected for a Fulbright award," Allman said. "I am grateful for the opportunity to enrich the educational, economic and social lives of the community of Ada. I will take advantage of this award by helping the people of Ghana in every way that I can." 

Photo by Rick FaticaAs part of her dissertation research, Schori will study forest trees in the genus Gomphandra. Her field work will increase scientific understanding of the genus and its ecology, distribution, abundance and relationships with other species. After completing her field work in the Philippines, Schori will return to Ohio University to complete her doctoral degree. She hopes to secure a faculty or research position and envisions a career encompassing botany and conservation that will allow her to teach, publish field guides and create online resources for the botanical research community. 

Before coming to Ohio University Schori worked as a technical writer for the New England Wild Flower Society and the U.S. Forest Service and worked for the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. She co-authored and edited a forthcoming field guide to the trees of Borneo and has published a number of papers on trees in the White Mountain, Green Mountain and Monongahela National Forests. Previous field study trips have led her to Thailand, Dominican Republic and Canada.

"I know that my life will be permanently changed during my time in the Philippines and by the people I meet there," Schori says. "It's my only opportunity to do field research for my dissertation, which is very important to me, but I know that in the long run, the cultural experience and the connections I make will be the most significant aspects of my Fulbright."

Phil Cantino, professor and associate chair of the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, emphasizes the award's international networking benefits. "Melanie is extraordinarily bright, a good communicator and has the necessary adaptability to benefit from immersion in a different culture. Spending a year in Asia at this stage in her graduate training will likely lead to fruitful career-long collaborations with Filipino colleagues."

Fifteen Ohio University students were recommended to the final round of competition in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program this year. This sets an Ohio University record for the highest number of students offered this prestigious award. So far this year, ten students have been offered Fulbright awards. The other candidates will each find out sometime between April and June whether they will receive an award. Last year, nine Ohio University students won Fulbright awards. 

Outstanding students who are U.S. citizens are invited to learn about the opportunities that the prestigious Fulbright program offers in over 100 countries. Funded projects may include coursework at an international university, independent field or library research, classes in a music conservatory or art school, special projects in the social or life sciences or a combination. A few countries allow awardees to teach English as a second language. Students who will be seniors, masters or doctoral candidates in fall 2006 could be eligible to apply; younger students are also invited to attend an information sessions in Baker University Center room 332.

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Media Contact: Assistant Director of the Center for International Studies Elizabeth Clodfelter, (740) 593-2302 or clodfele@ohio.edu, or Assistant Director of Communication and Graduate Programming Jennifer Cochran, (740) 593-1842 or cochraj1@ohio.edu

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