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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History graduate student Jessica Oswald recently received a 2009 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

The award is given to exceptional students working in science, technology, engineering and research fields. Recipients receive a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, a $10,500 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees and a $1,000 travel allowance.

Oswald is a Ph.D. candidate researching the ecology of birds found in tropical dry forests in northwestern Peru, including comparing the distribution of species today with 14,000-year-old fossils from the Late Pleistocene. Human development is endangering the forests in Peru and other Latin America countries. She seeks to understand how the diversity of birds has changed over time and how studying these changes can help predict future distributions of these species.

“I’m absolutely elated to be a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship award,” said Oswald, who is studying with Florida Museum Ornithology Curator David Steadman. “I am incredibly excited to get to work soon in these highly threatened habitats.

Oswald hopes her research will help preserve what is left of the once widespread and diverse ecosystems in South America and help scientists better understand how diversity of plants and animals change over time.

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Source: David Steadman, 352-273-1968,
Writer: Patti Nunez
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,