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ASU wildlife biologist honored for mentoring students

wildlife biologist Heather Bateman in her lab
March 02, 2015

Helping living things thrive is not just a career for Arizona State University professor Heather Bateman – it’s a way of life.

As a field ecologist and conservation biologist, the associate professor in the College of Letters and Sciences at ASU’s Polytechnic campus spends a good part of her days teaching, researching and thinking about how amphibians, reptiles and birds are faring in habitats altered by human influence.

In equal measure, she generously works to ensure that ASU is preparing next-generation wildlife conservationists to thrive and serve.

Earlier this month, Bateman’s outstanding dedication to leadership and professional development in students was recognized by her peers with the 2015 Award for Professional Service at the regional meetings of The Wildlife Society, the national professional organization for wildlife biology and conservation.

Eight ASU undergraduates and two graduate students in applied biological sciences and environmental resource management participated in the conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Feb. 5 -7, which was the 48th joint annual meeting of the Arizona and New Mexico chapters of the Wildlife Society and the Arizona/New Mexico chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

“This award is well-deserved recognition for Heather and the good work she is doing both in research and teaching,” said Chris Martin, head of the faculty of Science and Mathematics in the College of Letters and Sciences. “It also shines a spotlight on our wildlife program in applied biological sciences and student-centered approach to learning and doing science.”

Undergraduate and Barrett Honors College student Brett Montgomery, who has been working in professor Bateman’s lab on ASU’s Polytechnic campus since fall 2013 and is completing an honor’s thesis under her direction, said the attention she devotes as a scholar-mentor is impressive.

“In every class that I’ve had with Heather, I’ve had the opportunity to do a research project, either in the field or in a lab setting,” Montgomery said. “She has taught many students how to design a research study, follow through with the results and present it in a professional fashion."

He added: “She always has a million different projects going on between grad students, undergrad researchers in her lab and other students with projects in her regular classes, but she’s very intentional with her mentoring, taking time to give advice and help out on each individual project. She cares about each and every student, and wants us all to succeed.”

ASU alumnus Ryan Anthony, who coordinated Bateman’s nomination for the award, notes in his submission letter that she is “an exemplary biologist living to the highest standards of our profession. … By developing young students, she has insured a future for wildlife conservation.”

A 2014 graduate who is now a master’s student at Sul Ross State University and engaged in wildlife biology research in the Big Bend region of Texas, Anthony also emphasized the work Bateman does to encourage and support students’ involvement in The Wildlife Society (TWS) conferences.

As part of the regional meetings of the Arizona and New Mexico TWS chapters, Bateman now organizes a wildlife quiz bowl that mirrors the Jeopardy-like contest undergraduates compete in at the national meeting of TWS. She took an ASU team to nationals for the first time in 2013, in Milwaukee.

“I became involved in The Wildlife Society meetings when I was a student, and I see developing that collegiality as an important natural step for all of our majors,” said Bateman, who joined ASU in 2008 after earning a doctorate at the University of New Mexico and completing a post doctoral in Montana with the USDA Forest Service.

“The Wildlife Society is the place to connect and collaborate with other scientists and professional experts in our field to share information and learn from each other.”