Clark launches HERO research to study devastating beetle invasion

The 2012 HERO Fellows: (back row) Joeseph Danko, Sean Peters, Andrew Hostetler, Abigail Nehring, Andreas Jozwiak, and Patrick Sheppard; (front row) Shannon Palmer, Michelle Seefeld, Martha Ziemer, Gabriela Spitzer, and Emma McDonell.

Clark has been awarded a three-year, $329,992 grant from the National Science Foundation for a new program titled, “REU Site: Mapping Beetles, Trees, Neighborhoods, and Policies: A Multi-Scaled, Urban Ecological Assessment of the Asian Longhorned Beetle Invasion in New England.”

Speakers and participants came together to discuss the project’s implications for the region, applaud its mission, and congratulate the new class of HERO Fellows, 11 students chosen from around the country in a highly selective application process.  Joining co-principal investigators of the project, Clark Associate Professors of Geography John Rogan and Deborah Martin, were: Kathleen Polanowitz, District Director to Congressman James P. McGovern; Robyn Kennedy, Deputy Chief of Staff for Lt. Gov. Tim Murray; Michael Lanava, Chief of Staff for Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty; Evelyn Herwitz, marketing director and the author of “Trees at Risk: The Rise and Decline of an Urban Forest—A Case Study of Worcester, Massachusetts” published in 2001; Deb Cary, Director of Mass Audubon’s Central Mass Sanctuaries and Martha Gach, Mss Audubon Conservation Coordinator; Peggy Middaugh, Project Director for the Worcester Tree Initiative, and WTI Program Coordinator Ruth Seward; Clark Provost Davis Baird, Clark Vice President for Government and Community Affairs Jack Foley, Mosakowski Institute Director James Gomes, and many others.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle, an invasive species, has devastated hundreds of acres of trees across the region.

“Undergraduate research is an important aspect of education at Clark,” Provost Baird said. “This project is an example of the Clark effort to engage liberal education with what we call effective practice — really putting research to work in the academic setting and in the community.”

Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) Fellows will work on the REU program based at Clark and will receive $4,500 for eight weeks of full-time research, plus an allowance for room and board. Clark  student managers for the project are doctoral students Alida Cantor and Nicholas Cuba (GISDE/M.A. ’11); A.J. Shatz ’12, who is pursuing a master’s in GIS, and senior Matt Manley.

Here are the 2012 HERO Fellows:

From Clark (all Class of 2013): Joseph Danko, Andrew Hostetler; Shannon Palmer, and Martha Ziemer. Non- Clark students: Andreas Jozwiak (Trinity University, Texas); Emma McDonell (University of California, Santa Cruz); Abigail Nehring (Bard College at Simon’s Rock, MA); Sean Peters (Mississippi State University); Michelle Seefeld (University of Wisconsin); Patrick Sheppard (Worcester Polytechnic Institute); and Gabriela Spitzer (Barnard College, NY).

In mid-July, at Clark, the HERO Fellows teams will make a public presentation of their research.

For more information, contact Brenda Nikas-Hayes, graduate program administrator for the Graduate School of Geography, at 508-793-7337.

To check out media reports on the Clark project, click on the links below.

New England Cable News (NECN) Worcester News Tonight/Charter Ch-3 TV: Clark University gets grant to battle Asian Longhorned Beetle

Trees at Risk: Reclaiming an Urban Forest (Blog by Evelyn Herwitz): A HERO’s Welcome: Clark Geographers Launch ALB Research

Worcester Telegram & Gazette: Clark gets grant to study Asian longhorned beetle

Worcester Business Journal: Clark Lands Beetle Grant

GoLocal Worcester: Clark Receives $300k to Help Solve Beetle Infestation