The International Wolf Center is excited to announce the first two winners of the Dr. L. David Mech Fellowships. They are Lily Heinzel and Cameron Ho.
Both students will receive a $6,000 stipend and up to $4,000 in support for field research expenses. The International Wolf Center, which Mech founded in 1985, funds the fellowships.
Heinzel is a senior at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Ho graduated from the University of Washington in June 2021.
“We were thrilled at the quality of applicants,” said the Center’s Executive Director, Grant Spickelmier. “With this being the first year for the fellowships, we didn’t know what to expect. It was hard for the selection committee to narrow down the field and choose just two candidates, but we felt like Lily and Cameron both stood out. We are excited to be able to support their development as biologists.”
“It is so satisfying to know that these fellowships will help well-deserving students supplement their academic training with valuable field work on wolves and thus foster the preparations for their careers,” stated Mech.
Heinzel isn’t her first family member to have a tie to wolf research and Dr. Mech. Her grandfather, Richard Reichle, worked with Dr. Mech at the University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve on one of his early telemetry projects.
“I feel so honored to represent my family, women, and inspired young scientists with the research this Fellowship will fund,” she said. “I have been working towards this point since high school when I read my grandfather Richard’s copy of The Arctic Wolf: Living with the Pack by Dave Mech.”
Heinzel said she will use the funding to study conservation genetics research on wolves in the Great Lakes region (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan).
“I will be working in Dr. Kristin Brzeski’s lab at Michigan Technological University using genetic sequencing to estimate baseline genetic variation, ancestry, relatedness, inbreeding, and gene flow of gray wolves,” she said. “My statistics degree will come in handy when the genotyping is complete and RStudio is used to analyze the data for peer-reviewed publication. It is important to establish a baseline of regional gray wolf population structure and genetic health prior to any new management action in the state of Michigan.”
The mission of the International Wolf Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. Since the Center’s founding in 1985 by Dr. Mech and others, it has sought to provide the latest scientific information about wolves to our members, visitors, program participants and the general public.
Mech is a Senior Research Scientist with the Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. He has studied wolves and their prey since 1958, as well as several other species of wildlife.