Diversity helps populations thrive.
This is true of the people and plants involved in natural resource management.
The Conservation Foundation of Missouri Charitable Trust (CFMCT) established the Minority Natural Resource Scholarship to encourage and assist minority students in the field.
Vanessa Morales, biology senior at Missouri State University, is the 2021 recipient of the scholarship.
She shares how the award will foster her conservation research.
Protecting plants and their pollinators
Morales collects data on bees’ ability to use food available in their environment.
Her work informs conservation efforts for bees and the plants from which they forage.
“Supporting bees’ survival isn’t just about increasing their populations or maintaining their habitats,” Morales said. “It’s also about preserving plants as the sources of nutrients bees depend on.”
Conserving bee and plant populations connects to fueling diversity in nature.
This is a key aspect of how we experience the natural world, Morales shares.
“Think about the diversity in plants you see when going on a hike or visiting the park. Those wild plants depend on pollinators like bees,” she said. “Supporting bees means supporting life and enjoyment in the outdoors.”
Expanding her reach in research
The sources Morales uses in her research are often expensive.
The CFMCT scholarship will help her overcome the concern of their cost.
“I will no longer be limited to free articles when reviewing peer-reviewed publications, as I can pay to access more specific content that may be key to my work,” she said. “I can also apply for memberships to databases that hold a wider range of relevant literature.”
Dr. Avery Russell, assistant professor of biology, is Morales’ advisor. She conducts her awarded research in his lab.
“Vanessa is an outstanding early career scientist. I’m so glad the generous CFMCT award will assist her as a member of a group traditionally excluded from academia,” Russell said. “The scholarship will help level the playing field, which can give Vanessa more flexibility in deciding her career path.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RUSSELL LAB
CFMCT is a public foundation established by the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
The foundation serves to support students pursuing natural resource and conservation-oriented careers through scholarships, grants, youth mentoring and related programs.