ESSM Awards & Merits 2011 Ilsa Kantola receives 2011 Tom Slick Fellowship Congratulations to Ilsa Kantola! She has been selected to receive a Tom Slick Fellowship in 2010-2011. The Tom Slick Fellowship is the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' most prestigious competitive fellowship. It is awarded to outstanding graduate students to support the completion of their dissertation after they have been admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. For her Ph.D. research, Ilsa is working with Dr. Boutton on an NSF grant aimed at understanding physical, chemical, and microbiological mechanisms of soil organic matter storage and turnover at the Texas AgriLife La Copita Research Area in southern Texas where grasslands are undergoing succession to woodland. Ilsa's dissertation research will examine the structure and function of soil microbial communities at her study site using molecular methods based on soil DNA. In addition, she is evaluating how succession from grassland to woodland and the concomitant changes in microbial community composition are affecting phosphorus storage and transformations in soils. In recognition of the quality of her research and presentation skills, she was awarded 2nd Place in the graduate student poster competition at the national meeting of the Soil Science Society of America meeting in October 2008. In addition, she was awarded 1st Place for her poster at TAMU Student Research Week in 2008 in the Ecology/Conservation Division. She has also made important contributions to our departmental teaching program by serving as the overall TA Coordinator and instructor of record for our RENR 215 course in Fall 2009.