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Released April 19, 2004



HATTIESBURG - A biology student from The University of Southern Mississippi has been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Rachel Bru, 22, of Mobile, Ala., was selected from among more than 8,000 applicants nationwide. The fellowship pays $10,500 for tuition and expenses and carries a stipend of $27,500 for three years, including a one-time $1,000 international travel award.

Bru is currently a graduate assistant working in the migratory bird research group under Dr. Frank Moore, chair of the Southern Miss Department of Biological Sciences.

"My family has always been into birds, and it's something we've just always done together. So, I got involved with the bird research group as a freshman and did it all four years," said Bru, who received her undergraduate degree in biology from Southern Miss.

The NSF awarded 900 three-year graduate research fellowships to outstanding college and university students this spring as part of its effort to help ensure the vitality and excellence of the U.S. human resource base in science, mathematics and engineering.

The fellowships offer support for graduate study in all scientific disciplines. The graduate fellowship program is one of the NSF's oldest programs. Fellows are promising young mathematicians, scientists and engineers whose careers are likely to be marked by significant contributions to research, teaching and industrial applications.

As an undergraduate, Bru distinguished herself as a Goldwater Scholar and gained invaluable research experience while working both in the lab and in the field with doctoral students in the department of biological sciences.

"Rachel is one of those rare individuals who combines a sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world with a sharp intellect and a strong work ethic," Moore said. "I think her winning this says something about the caliber of graduates at Southern Miss."

Bru said she is interested in how female birds make pre-breeding choices about males and territories, and how song can affect these choices. "In particular, I want to know whether song can affect a female's choice to stop migrating," she said. "Can she be persuaded to stop early if she hears an appropriate or attractive song?"

Bru has also done some teaching at the high school level through an NSF graduate teaching fellowship.

"I taught at Collins and I hope to get to continue teaching and working with high school students," she said.


OCEAN SPRINGS -- Award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Ulrich will lead two photographic events at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on Wednesday, March 10.

He will present a nature photography workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then a talk and slide show called "Wildlife Images 2003" at 7 p.m., both at The University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.

Admission to the evening event is free and will be held in the Caylor Auditorium at GCRL. The veteran photographer will feature photos from his 2003 photographic safaris abroad and in North America. He will answer questions and sign his books during the reception following his slide show.

The registration fee for the all-day workshop is $50 per person, payable to GCRL. Registration includes a continental breakfast, light lunch and snacks. Participation is limited to 20. Though the workshop is geared toward beginners, Ulrich tailors the experience to meet needs for all degrees of skill.

"The beginners will definitely benefit from the workshop, but I always help the more advanced get something out of it also," Ulrich said. "I lead many photo trips and always find a wide range of levels."

Ulrich said participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.

Topics include a brief review of the principles of photography, relationships between shutter and aperture settings, fundamental elements of composition, use and timing of fill-in flash, digital versus film photography, techniques of close-up photography, and a brief discussion of slide etiquette, the photography business and marketing.

Ulrich grew up in South Chicago, graduated with a degree in biology from Southern Illinois University and taught for four years before launching his career as a freelance photographer. He has supported himself with nature photography for the past 29 years.

His library of more than 300,000 transparencies includes birds and mammals from all over the world. His photographs have been featured in publications such as National Wildlife, Audubon, National Geographic, Montana Outdoors and Life.

He has published six nature books, including Mammals of the Rockies, Birds of the Northern Rockies, Once Upon a Frame and his 2002 release, Photo Pantanal. Dr. William E. Hawkins, GCRL executive director, said Ulrich brings the scientific and artistic worlds together.

"Tom earns his living photographing wildlife all over the world," Hawkins sad. "He is an outstanding observer and a biologist. His approach to photography is to capture his subjects exhibiting their natural behavior."

The GCRL is home to the university's Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium is also a unit of the laboratory. The GCRL is part of the Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. For more information, call the laboratory at (228) 872-4200.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM