• Enrolled in a geography graduate program.
  • Using the skills I developed at Willamette.
  • An environmental science degree holder.
  • Studying dendrochronology.

Monica Rother is researching tree-ring science in graduate school, an interest she developed at Willamette.

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A Grant-Funded Researcher

Monica Rother ’05 is still in graduate school, but the National Science Foundation has already funded her work.

Monica Rother's graduate research got a big boost when she earned something that many scientists covet: funding for her research.

Rother '05 was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which provides thousands of dollars annually for up to three years to students with extraordinary promise in the sciences, mathematics or engineering.

Rother is pursuing a master's degree in geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she is using dendrochronology (tree-ring science) to study how climate historically served to drive fire across an area in northwestern New Mexico.

She hopes to use her findings to make inferences regarding fire behavior in the face of future climate change.

"My current research is motivated by interactions with Dr. Karen Arabas at Willamette," Rother says. "A course I took from her and Dr. Joe Bowersox provided me the opportunity to travel across the state of Oregon and study varying aspects of forest fire ecology and management.

"My Willamette education positioned me as a strong applicant for the NSF fellowship. The small class sizes gave me the opportunity to form close personal relationships with my professors and fellow classmates. I also feel that writing my senior thesis was crucial in my academic development.

"The close-knit nature of the Willamette community gave me the structure and support I needed to develop my current research interests and skills."

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