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10 Idaho State University students awarded MILES internships to participate in a wide range of ecological, social science and geological studies

Posted March 3, 2014

Ten Idaho State University students have been awarded internships through Idaho’s Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystems Services (MILES) program to participate in a wide range of social science, ecological and geological studies.

The program builds Idaho’s capacity to study complex social-ecological processes, especially those associated with water demand and valuation of ecosystem services.

MILES is a National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)-funded project to advance the understanding of feedback between social and ecological systems and ecosystem services in mid-sized cities in the face of climate change and urban growth.

The MILES grant provides up to $4,000 per student participant in the MILES Undergraduate Research and Internships (MURI) Program. The MURI Program is designed to engage undergraduates in research to develop a future workforce of scientists, educators and stakeholders that can better manage Idaho’s landscapes, including valuable ecosystem services.

The 10 ISU students selected as this year’s recipients and their majors are:

• Elijah Nixon – junior, secondary education, English
• Cody Feldman – senior, ecology
• Adam Eckersell – senior, biology
• Zandra Higley – senior, international studies
• Desirea Valladolid – senior, political science
• Erica Dombrowski – junior, earth/environmental systems
• Lakin Beal – senior, biology
• Megan Reilly – senior, earth/environmental systems
• Kimberly Archibald – junior, earth/environmental systems
• Sean Boggs – junior, geomatics technology

Archibald, who was born and raised in Idaho Falls, said she is excited about her internship. “Being selected for this internship is the single biggest highlight so far during my three years at Idaho State University,” Archibald said. “My hope is to come out of this internship feeling confident in my ability to handle lab work and gaining the skills necessary to prove myself in my field.”

Boggs, a Navy veteran who moved to Pocatello with his family to attend ISU, said he “has significant experience dealing with GIS from a land-use perspective and looks forward to getting experience in different fields through working on the MILES project.”

Feldman, a senior in ecology, said he plans to graduate in 2014 and return for a geotechnology certificate. He said he is doing an internship with ISU ecology Professor Charles Peterson to incorporate Geographic Information System (GIS) data into an ecosystem they are studying. He is also working with a doctoral student and ISU geosciences Assistant Professor Sarah Godsey on a hydrology study of the North Slope of Alaska.

“The reason I got into ecology as a major was growing up in Idaho and spending summers in Alaska working on a fishing resort,” Feldman said. “Those things have really cemented my love for the outdoors and fishing. I feel like best way for me to contribute to society is to help preserve the ecosystems I love and allow other people to have the same experiences as I have had.”

Up to 60 MURI Scholars positions are offered each year across Idaho, with a goal of recruiting a large number of students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields such as women, ethnic minorities and students with disabilities. MURI students will primarily work within MILES study areas located in the Boise/Treasure Valley), Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls/Moscow, and Pocatello/Idaho Falls areas. The duration of program can range from eight to 16 weeks but will vary depending on scope of work.