Evan Buechley '06 earns a NSF graduate fellowship to study birds

by University Communications,

Evan Buechley ’06 has been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, enabling him to study bird communities on coffee farms in Ethiopia.

The fellowship provides an annual $30,000 stipend and $10,500 toward tuition for three years at any accredited U.S. graduate institution.

“I’m very excited and honored to have received an NSF fellowship,” says Buechley, who majored in environmental studies at Willamette. “This will be the first study of avian population demographics and ecosystem services on coffee farms in Ethiopia.”

At Willamette, Buechley discovered his passion for fieldwork under the mentorship of biology professor David Craig. He was also the recipient of numerous scholarships, including the Kelly Ainsworth International Scholarship and a Willamette music scholarship.

Buechley is now pursuing a doctorate in biology at the University of Utah, where he works with renowned conservation scientist Cagan Sekercioglu.

In recent years, Buechley has researched endangered bird communities, such as the California Condor. His work was featured in the documentary, “Scavenger Hunt: An Unlikely Union,” released in 2012.

His research is now taking him to Ethiopia, where he’s interested in studying how bird communities are indicators of ecosystem health and provide ecosystem services to agriculture via pollination and pest control.

“For ecological conservation to be successful in the 21st century, it is necessary to preserve biodiversity in habitats that have been impacted by human activities," he says.

"This is particularly important in agriculture, which accounts for over a third of global land cover. The combination of high biological diversity, bird endemism and scant research makes Ethiopia the top priority in Africa for ornithological research.”

Charlotte Osborne ’11 and Michael Vitousek ’11 received honorable mentions for the fellowship this year.

For more information on the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and similar opportunities, contact the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards.