URI natural resources professor awarded $360,000 grant
Prestigious 'early career' grant funds bird
research and teaching
KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 25, 2000 -- University of Rhode Island Assistant
Professor Scott McWilliams' research and teaching on the physiology of migratory
songbirds just received a significant boost. The National Science Foundation
(NSF) has awarded him a five-year $360,000 Early Career Development grant
to fund his research and his efforts to develop innovative teaching methods.
"The NSF Early Career Development Program is a highly prestigious
grant for young faculty members, and the University is proud that Scott
has been awarded it," said William Wright, dean of URI's College of
the Environment and Life Sciences. "His selection acknowledges that
he is both an exceptional researcher and teacher."
NSF created the Early Career program to foster the early development
of academic careers by linking the excitement of research with inspired
teaching. The grant is limited to faculty in their first five years of
a tenure-track academic position.
A Kingston resident, McWilliams joined the URI faculty in 1998
after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin.
His research focuses primarily on the physiology and ecology of migratory
birds, especially geese, grouse, and songbirds. The grant will fund his
studies of how birds rapidly adapt to changes in their environment by adjusting
their digestive systems and body composition.
"I want to know how, for instance, the quantity and quality of food
affects a bird's ability to store fat and protein during migration,"
said McWilliams. "How does the digestive system of a bird change during
migration, and how do those changes influence the tempo of migration as
birds travel through southern New England?"
URI students will help McWilliams find the answers to these questions
and get valuable research experience in the process.
"The teaching component of the grant will allow me to develop portions
of my research to include undergraduates and to add experiential methods
existing classes," he said. Other strategies he'll use to involve
undergraduate students in research include interdisciplinary creative projects,
a freshman field course, and mentored internships with business, industry
and non-profit organizations.
Field research will begin this summer at bird banding stations in Kingston
and Block Island.
# # #
For Information: Scott McWilliams 874-7531, Todd McLeish