PhD student awarded Switzer Environmental Fellowship

Brad Timm, a doctoral candidate in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation, has been awarded a $15,000 Switzer Environmental Fellowship by the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation of Belfast, Maine.

He is among 25 students from universities and colleges in California and New England chosen for the award for early-career environmental leaders. Each year, at least 20 future environmental leaders are given the fellowships by the Switzer Foundation to complete master’s and doctoral degrees to advance their skills and develop the expertise to address critical conservation challenges.

Timm’s research interests are focused on gaining an improved understanding of species-environment relationships and movement ecology of wildlife species in order to devise more effective conservation and management strategies for these organisms. For his doctoral research, Timm is investigating the ecology and conservation of the Eastern spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus h. holbrookii), a species listed as “Threatened” in Massachusetts, at Cape Cod National Seashore.

Specifically, he is assessing breeding habitat preferences of the Eastern spadefoot toad using results from extensive larval trapping surveys and is assessing the post-breeding movement ecology of adults (including distances emigrated from breeding wetlands, upland habitat preferences, and nocturnal activity patterns) using radio-telemetry techniques. Results from this research will provide the National Park Service at Cape Cod National Seashore with the information necessary to effectively manage for the long-term persistence of populations of this regionally rare species at the park.

Prior to his doctoral work, Timm earned his master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation, examining the emigration timing and orientation of juvenile pond-breeding amphibians in western Massachusetts. As an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island, he worked on a number of research projects, the majority of which focused on the ecology of pond-breeding amphibians.

“The Switzer Foundation makes strategic investments in individual leadership to improve environmental quality,” said Lissa Widoff, executive director of the foundation. ”The 2008 class of fellows provides us with some remarkable talent in environmental science and policy at a time when issues like alternative energy, habitat conservation, and environmental and public health are at the forefront of the environmental agenda. Our fellows are shaping that agenda.”