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2 doctoral students earn Faculty Emeriti Fellowships

August 31, 2006

 Doctoral students Nathan Morehouse and Nathan Wilkens have been selected as recipients of the 2006-2007 Faculty Emeriti Fellowships for their academic excellence and promise as future faculty.

The ASU Faculty Emeriti Association (FEA) awards these fellowships to students on the pathway to the professorate who have the potential to change the landscape of academia.

The Faculty Emeriti Association will present the awards to Morehouse and Wilkens at the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) opening reception Sept. 7. The group of emeriti faculty and former librarians created this endowment to support students in the PFF program, a national initiative designed to prepare doctoral and master of fine arts students for their roles as faculty members.

“What sets this fellowship program apart is that the resources to support our students come directly from the kind gifts of former ASU faculty,” says Maria T. Allison, ASU's vice provost and dean of graduate studies. “This award creates a special bond between those ASU faculty emeriti and those doctoral students who will follow in their footsteps. It is a wonderful tribute for a student to be selected from among all those in the PFF program for this award.”

Both Faculty Emeriti Fellows share a passion for higher education and research.

Biology student Nathan Morehouse has been researching the evolution of bright coloration in butterflies, a subject he studies from a variety of angles, including the optics involved in color production, the role of nutrition in developing bright colors and the behavioral contexts where these vivid colors are used as signals.

Morehouse also is heavily involved in community outreach efforts and recently was awarded a Graduate Mentorship Award for his Graduate Partners in Science Education initiative, a program that provides mentoring for underprivileged middle school students in the Phoenix area.

“Receiving this fellowship is not only an extraordinary honor for me, but also a big opportunity,” Morehouse says. “The award is allowing me to undertake an ambitious study of the role of nutrient limitations on the production of bright colors in butterflies. Without the generous support of the Faculty Emeriti Association, I wouldn't have been able to fully pursue this exciting research opportunity, which will represent a key component of my dissertation.”

Nathan Wilkens, who is pursuing a doctorate in geological sciences, is examining the evolution of ancient ecosystems by studying animal fossils, plant fossils, sediments and the geochemistry of ancient land-based environments to determine how the ancient living system interacted.

Since fossil preservation of these types of land environments is very rare, Wilkens decided to focus his research on several well-preserved desert oases near Moab, Utah, to gain a better understanding of living environments and preservation situations in the Early Jurassic period.

“This award will allow me to concentrate further on my research and graduate within a year,” Wilkens says. “It will also help me reach my ultimate goal as a researcher, scholar and teacher, which is to train the next generation of transdisciplinary scientists, adept at working across classical disciplines.”