Sebastian Acevedo ’23, a biology and environmental science double major from Portland, Oregon, will spend his Fulbright year working in Iceland alongside noted wildlife ecologist Dr. Ólafur Karl Nielsen. Acevedo will join Nielsen and other scientists from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History to investigate which factors might influence the quality of nesting habitat for gyrfalcons, the largest falcon in the world, and Iceland's national bird. Gyrfalcons have an important role in their ecosystems as top predators, and the institute has studied them for over 41 years.
Acevedo has taken part in a number of research projects on gyrfalcon ecology in the United States and is thrilled about the opportunity to work with one of the world's leading Gyrfalcon experts as a collaborative effort between conservationists from the U.S. and Iceland.
“I am beyond excited to work with such experienced ecologists to better understand a system dear to my heart and one that requires immediate attention,” said Acevedo. “The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth, so it falls to us to conduct as much research into this system as possible to better protect those species that call it home.”
On campus, Acevedo has worked as a research assistant in the lab of Brody Sandel, associate professor of biology, where Acevedo completed a research project on bird diversity and conservation, culminating in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. The research was supported by the REAL Program.
He also worked with biology Professor Justen Whittall to extract DNA from songbird feathers to identify the sex and species of two kinds of birds for which visually identifying the sex/species is near impossible. Acevedo presented a poster of their preliminary results at The West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference in San Diego and the Ecological Society of America Conference in Montreal, Canada.
Acevedo is a University Honors student, a Koret Fellow, a peer educator, a member of the scientific research honor society Sigma Xi, and a club officer for Bird Up! SCU.
About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. For further information please visit https://us.fulbrightonline.org/.
May 4, 2023