A Gift to Help Save the Planet
An investment in the earth’s future. That’s how professors view an anonymous $1.5 million gift to support graduate students in UConn’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department.
UConn’s graduate students are conducting critical research to protect the planet by studying everything from how to mitigate the impact of climate change to analyzing genomes to predicting the future of the earth’s biodiversity.
“I view this gift as an incredible investment in our future in the broadest sense of the word,” says Pam Diggle, Professor and Department Head for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Diggle is referring to a recent $1.5 million gift from a pair of anonymous donors who are concerned about advancing ecology and evolutionary biology and conserving the planet’s life forms. This follows an earlier $3 million gift that endowed two research positions in the department from one of the same donors.
“Graduate student support is essential to the advancement of research and teaching at UConn,” says Juli Wade, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This gift will support the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the College in a transformational way: by enabling us to recruit excellent graduate students, offer them opportunities to focus on their research, and enhance the undergraduate experience through graduate student advising and mentorship.”
The department plans to use the funds to support graduate students during the summer so they can continue working on their research uninterrupted, rather than having to work full time in summer jobs.
“Many of our students work part time during the academic year as teaching assistants. So, they both teach and do their research during the academic year,” Diggle says. “The summer is a critical time for them to really plow into their research full time. Graduate student research in ecology and evolutionary biology ranges from intensive computational and laboratory work to fieldwork both locally and in locales that range from the tropics to the Arctic. This generous gift will support their salaries so they can invest their attention to their work full time.”
Diggle says she was “gobsmacked” when she first heard about the gift.
“Supporting students during the summer is just so critical to our department,” she says. “We have tried different ways to garner support for students and it’s always a struggle. Finances are always short. So, this is just phenomenal in terms of our ability to support their work and support it at a respectable level.”
Support Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Graduate Student Research