National Science Recognition
One Heritage environmental science student’s research on the growing fire danger in the dry forest areas of Eastern Washington led to special recognition at a national science conference last fall.
In October, senior and McNair Fellow Mario Farias won the Undergraduate Poster Presentation Award at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. Farias was one of five Heritage students invited to present their research at the conference; overall more than 1,300 students from colleges across the United States presented.
In summer 2013, Farias worked with the University of Washington Pacific Wildland Fire Science Laboratory studying the conditions of forests in Eastern Washington. He reviewed forest vegetation composition changes between 1948 and 2009 to determine how the changing landscape contributes to increased fire risk. His research showed that the forests are becoming denser and the vegetation more varied which, in turn, decreases the health of the forest and increases the risk of catastrophic fires. His research will be used by forest managers to develop strategies for restoring the health of dry-forest areas in Washington state. His research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant.
The other Heritage presenters at SACNAS included Jennifer Delgado, Meadow Rodriguez Jr., Jose Arellano and Piedad Alcal.