Alumna Betsy Evans Leading the Way as Vulture Research Biologist

Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

Betsy Evans is a Summer 2020 graduate of the  Integrative Biology Ph.D. program in Environmental Science . Evans served as lead author on a study on wood storks, which was recently published, titled, "Urban food subsidies reduce natural food limitations and reproductive costs for a wetland bird." She is currently employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, FL, and will then transition to her role as a Vulture Research Biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Gainesville, FL starting September 27.  Read more about Betsy's recent study. 

imgTell us about your new position

I work with a multi-agency team of scientists, planners, and resource specialists who organize and apply scientific and technical information in ways that are essential in supporting the objectives of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). I work as a RECOVER (REstoration COordination & VERification) Greater Everglades Regional Coordinator for the US Army Corps (USACE). I recently led the Interim Goals and Targets effort to RECOVER. Interim Goals and Targets are used to assess the incremental progress of CERP. Click here to view the report (if interested!).

I will coordinate and lead vulture management research for the southeastern United States as part of the USDA.

How did FAU help prepare you for this role?

My FAU Everglades research experience provided me with the first-hand experience of the research being conducted for Everglades restoration. My position at USACE was to coordinate and coalesce the data that is being collected from FAU and other state universities. Having first-hand experiences at FAU collecting and analyzing this data provided me with an invaluable understanding of the importance of Everglades research and how the data is used to assist Everglades restoration efforts.

What did you enjoy about your experience at FAU?

As a graduate student, I really enjoyed providing undergraduate students with research opportunities. I was responsible for a large-scale research project, so I needed a lot of assistance. Fortunately, more than 20 different undergraduate students were able to assist me in the field, even if it was only for one day!

What research did you perform while at FAU?

My research project was focused on Wood Stork's responses to human-induced landscape changes in South Florida. This project had a variety of different field components including airplane surveys of roadway corridors across South/Southwest Florida -- this was essentially surveying for storks in different man-made features along roads, such as a canal or a pond. The second component was fish sampling in these manmade features, such as ditches, ponds, and canals. The final component focused on what wood storks were eating. This required us to collect bolus samples (or stomach regurgitation) from nesting storks.

What tips would you give those looking to pursue a career in your field?

The best advice I could give prospective students or undergraduate students pursuing the ecology field is to try to get out on as many research projects as you can. FAU has a lot of research opportunities and graduate students/faculty are always looking for undergraduates to assist. Some undergraduates assisted me for multiple years and others just for one day. Reach out to faculty or graduate students and see if they'd like any help! It's a great opportunity for you to figure out what you're interested in without a large time commitment!

Additional Information
The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science offers unparalleled experiential learning opportunities to prepare the next generation of scientists and problem solvers.
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Florida Atlantic University
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Boca Raton, FL 33431
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