SPRINGFIELD, IL – Chelsea DeBay of Carbondale, a graduate student in the Department of Zoology at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, is this year’s recipient of the Todd Fink Memorial Fund scholarship, presented by the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF). The scholarship award announcement was made today by Sam Flood, chairman of the board of directors of the ICF and Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
DeBay will receive a $500 stipend from the foundation for travel costs associated with research and registration costs.
DeBay’s research involves the effect of prescribed burning for habitat management on the small mammal fauna in selected portions of the Shawnee National Forest. Chelsea is looking at impacts on small mammals, with special emphasis on the golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli), an animal listed as a threatened species in Illinois.
“Her research will help us understand the effects of a widely-used management method (prescribed burning) on the state-threatened golden mouse and the entire suite of small mammal species in the Shawnee,” said Glen Kruse, Division Chief for the Illinois Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Natural Heritage.
The scholarship fund was established to honor Todd Fink, a highly regarded biologist and ornithologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, who died in 1995 at the age of 36.
The award goes to deserving students involved in graduate research at SIUC that focuses on threatened or endangered species of plants or animals.
Since 1996, twelve graduate students from SIU have received stipends from the Todd Fink Memorial Fund to support research on Illinois’ rarest species.
“It's an honor to be able to recognize students like Chelsea for their hard work and success in their studies,” said Flood. “Through this personal tragedy, the Fink family has found a way to honor their son’s legacy and advance important research of threatened and endangered species.”
To contribute to the Todd Fink Memorial Fund or to learn more about the Illinois Conservation Foundation, which is an IRS 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, contact the Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271, phone 217/785-2003 (TTY 217/782-9175).