Mar 19 2015

Wyss Scholarships awarded to UM graduate students

The Wyss Foundation, which supports conservation research in the American West, has awarded scholarships to two University of Montana graduate students.

Haley Wiggins

Haley Wiggins, College of Forestry and Conservation, and Adam Andis, Environmental Studies Program at the College of Humanities and Sciences, are this year’s recipients. Both are completing master’s degrees.

With its scholars program, the Wyss Foundation aims to help create a new generation of leaders in western land conservation. Each year the foundation selects scholars from among the top graduate students at Northern Arizona University, University of Michigan, the University of Montana and Yale University. Scholars receive tuition assistance as well as an award for a summer research project or internship. After learning the latest in conservation science and policy, students apply that knowledge in careers at land management agencies, tribes and nonprofit conservation groups.

“The natural resource challenges facing the West over the coming decades will require the creativity, problem-solving and vision of a new generation of leaders in conservation," said Molly McUsic, president of the Wyss Foundation.  "With this year's scholarships, we are proud to support a group of individuals who are so passionate about the outdoors and so committed to forging solutions to the resource challenges that lie ahead.”

For UM, the Wyss Scholars Program has been invaluable in recruiting and retaining world-class graduate students.

“There is no question that the Wyss Scholars Program distinguishes the University of Montana for students seeking graduate education in conservation,” said Professor Len Broberg, director of UM’s Environmental Studies Program. “The College of Forestry and Conservation and the Environmental Studies Program continue to attract many highly qualified applicants based on their tradition of academic excellence, practical application and the Wyss Scholars for Conservation in the American West program. We are proud to continue to develop conservation leaders for the future.”

This year’s scholars represent UM’s excellence in two academic units.

Adam Andis

Wiggins is studying landscape-scale forest spatial patterns at the College of Forestry and Conservation. She is no stranger to UM, having earned a bachelor’s degree in ecological restoration and biology here in 

2009. She is thrilled to be back at the University and to be working with Associate Professor Cara Nelson on a U.S. Forest Service project in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains and the Sierra de San Pedro Martir mountains of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

“I chose to come back to the University of Montana for this project because of the excellent faculty and for the joy of living in Missoula,” Wiggins said. “I am extremely honored to receive this scholarship.”

Andis has migrated south from Alaska to pursue his master’s in environmental studies. He has worked in southeast Alaska since 2007 and most recently held the position of communications director for the Sitka Conservation Society. In 2010, he helped found the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and currently serves on its board. He is studying the permeability of wildlife bypass structures within road corridors in relation to surrounding populations.

Andis says his interests "lie at opposite ends of the conservation spectrum—in Wilderness management where humans have the least impact, and in road ecology where we have the largest impact on natural systems." He noted, "I am entirely grateful that the Wyss Foundation has chosen to invest in my potential as an environmental leader."