Today the department celebrated the year end with a picnic under the science oak. Departmental awards were announced, and two members of the Van Bael lab were honored with awards. 

The George Henry Penn award is for recognizing outstanding graduate research in the department. Peter Tellez was the recipient! Here’s his shout out:

Peter has developed into a scholar of tropical ecology as he prepared his dissertation on leaf traits and symbionts of tropical plants. He won several departmental awards to support his research, as well as a grant from the Organization for Tropical Studies to work at La Selva Biological Research Station in Costa Rica. Peter’s sampling led him on adventures through tropical forests, including climbing up to the tree tops or being hauled up by cranes. That was the easy part – the real difficulty came later with the long hours in the lab and the troubleshooting through data analyses. Peter developed immensely through this process and was always eager to rise to a challenge.

The Gerald E. Gunning Memorial award also recognizes outstanding research by a graduating Ph.D. student. Liz Kimbrough was the recipient! Here’s why:

Liz developed excellent dissertation work on the symbionts of baldcypress. First she won the prestigious NSF GRFP award. She further won additional funds from NSF, and from many sources at Tulane. By conducting her own research project and lending insight into ~8 other ongoing projects in the lab, she has developed a keen eye for how science can be presented in a believable and rigorous way. Liz’s work as a mentor for both science training and for writing have been invaluable to the lab. Liz is committed to making our city a more inclusive and equitable place to live and learn. One demonstration of this is that she took on a leadership role to present science workshops to middle-school girls from under-served schools in New Orleans, via the GIST and BATS programs. She has really excelled at being a researcher, writer, mentor, role model and friend. 

The outstanding Teaching Assistant award for upper level classes is for exceptional service of graduate students in the EEB department. Peter Tellez won this award! Here’s Peter’s story:

Peter has excelled as a teaching assistant for nearly every semester while at Tulane, and it is clear that undergraduates cherished their time with Peter as an instructor and lecturer. The same can be said from the undergraduates that he has mentored. He has shown a special talent for training undergraduates and for helping them feel included throughout the research process. Peter has also taken on leadership roles outside of our lab – for example, he’s the current president of the department’s graduate student association. In addition to his excellent research program, Peter has shown kindness, commitment and strength as an instructor, mentor and leader of our department. 


Van Bael lab Ph.D. students in 2016

Liz and Peter are here in the center of the photo!