Natural Resources & Environmental Science
Outstanding Master Student
The Outstanding Master Student Award is given annually to graduate students who have distinguished records within their programs, shown leadership qualities on campus and worked for the improvement of our College.
Elizabeth Reikowski started her master’s degree in the NRES graduate program in the fall of 2019, under the guidance of Professor Hall Cushman. Her thesis research focused on the effects of native and domestic ungulates (cattle, deer and elk) on the health, recruitment and overall performance of quaking aspen in Nevada and California. Although this tree species is not especially abundant in the western U.S., it creates unique habitats that provide a wide range of ecosystem services and are recognized as hotspots for biodiversity and endemism. Unfortunately, accelerating climate change and other forms of human impacts are adversely affecting many aspen stands, and Liz’s research will help inform management efforts to protect this important species and the invaluable services it provides. On May 3 , she successfully defended her thesis, completing her graduate degree with a 4.0 GPA in only four semesters. Her research will result in two peer-reviewed journal publications, and she has already given two research presentations at the annual meetings of the Society for Rangeland Management. In addition to her thesis research, Liz is a gifted and committed educator, and she has gained valuable experience as a teaching assistant in multiple classes: Natural Resource Ecology (NRES 217), Forest and Range Plants (NRES 345), Plant Ecology (NRES 347) and Introduction to Environmental Science (ENV 101). After graduating, Liz will continue to work with Dr. Cushman, at least during the summer conducting research and working on manuscripts. In the words of her advisor Professor Hall Cushman: "Liz is incredibly bright, intellectually creative, articulate and hardworking, and has a love for and knowledge of applied ecology, plants and range ecosystems that is remarkable. I have come to the conclusion that she can (literally!) do anything she sets her sights on."