UBC Okanagan conservation biologist selected as 2006 Aldo Leopold Fellow

Dr. Karen Hodges, a UBC Okanagan professor and researcher with the new Species at Risk and Habitat Studies (SARAHS) Centre, has received the prestigious Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship. She is one of just 18 Leopold Fellows this year.

The Leopold Fellowship provides recipients with intensive communication and leadership training to help them deliver scientific information more effectively to policy makers, the media, business leaders and the public.

Dr. Hodges, the Vernon C. “Bert” Brink Canada Research Chair in conservation biology, is interested in how land management activities like forestry or fire management affect rare or at-risk wildlife species.

“I am particularly interested in determining how changing the spatial pattern of management – for example, the size or type of habitat reserves, timber harvests, or prescribed burns -- affects wildlife,” said Dr. Hodges.

“The training the Leopold Fellowship will provide will help me to be more effective in translating scientific knowledge and ideas into management, policy,  and on-the-ground conservation activities.” Dr. Hodges’ field research is primarily in western forests and sage-steppe habitats, and she has worked in national parks, national forests, and private lands.

“We are very proud that Karen Hodges’ dedication and outstanding work has been recognized with such a prestigious award,” said Dr. Bernard Bauer, Dean of the Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC Okanagan.

“This fellowship emphasizes leadership and communications. With the excellent opportunities provided through the Leopold Fellowship, we know Dr. Hodges’ leadership and communications will continue to benefit UBC Okanagan and the work of the SARAHS Centre as she and her colleagues explore important questions in habitat and species-at-risk research.”

Based at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program each year awards up to 20 fellowships to mid-career academic environmental scientists. The 2006 fellows come from a wide range of backgrounds, including atmospheric sciences, tropical forest ecology, oceanography and anthropology. They join a network of 100 past fellows who are active in outreach to policy makers, journalists and other non-scientific audiences.

“Good policymaking depends on sound information conveyed clearly and accurately,” said Debbie Drake Dunne, executive director of the program. “It also depends on building relationships with decision makers, the news media and other organizations. The Leopold Leadership Fellows are given the tools to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences, with the ultimate goal of better informed policy making.”

Fellows are chosen for their outstanding scientific qualifications, demonstrated leadership ability and strong interest in communicating science beyond traditional academic audiences. Each fellow participates in two, week-long training sessions that include practice interviews with journalists and a mock Congressional hearing at which they practice giving testimony. The fellowship also offers peer networking and mentoring through the Aldo Leopold Leadership Network of program advisors, trainers and past fellows.

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