ESSM Awards & Merits 2013 Two of our ESSM graduate students have been chosen to receive the 2013 Distinguished Graduate Student Award from TAMU!! Each year, the Association of Former Students at Texas A&M University recognizes up to 15 graduate students to receive Distinguished Graduate Student Awards in one of three categories: Excellence in Research-Doctoral, Excellence in Research-Master’s, and Excellence in Teaching. The students are nominated by their faculty advisors or their departments, and to be nominated is truly an honor and an accomplishment in itself, due to the strenuous eligibility requirements. The award recipients are chosen by a panel of reviewers, which includes faculty and administrators. David Toledo was selected to receive the 2013 Distinguished Graduate Student Award in Research. He recently completed his Ph. D. degree in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management under the supervision of Dr. Urs P. Kreuter and was also a trainee in the NSF-IGERT Applied Biodiversity Science Program at Texas A&M. David’s research focused on identifying socio-economic and ecological factors affecting landowner use of different land management practices to restore degraded ecosystems in both Texas and Mexico. His dissertation work had two components: (1) Identifying human and ecological factors that drive the use of different management practices; and (2) The development of simulation models to help guide management decisions. David’s dissertation research fills a critical knowledge gap in effectively restoring the resilience of rangeland ecosystems. His research has been published in important journals relevant to his field of study and has been presented in regional, national and international meetings. David has also received several awards for his doctoral research including the Judges Choice Award for the NSF-IGERT poster and video competition and the Texas Section of The Society for Ecological Restoration award for best graduate student research presentation. Dr. David Toledo is now a Research Rangeland Management Specialist at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, North Dakota where he is responsible for improving ecological indicators of rangeland and pastureland health. Efforts from his work will contribute to the creation of an integrated grazingland health assessment tool for use in management and conservation planning. Dianne Stroman was selected to receive the 2013 Distinguished Graduate Student Award in Teaching. She is a PhD student in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Dianne is a three time Aggie, having received both her B.S. (’98) and her M.Agr. (’00) at Texas A&M. She returned to A&M as a doctoral student after working as conservation professional for nine years, first as an outreach specialist with The Nature Conservancy and later as a project manager with The Trust for Public Land. Since returning, she has served as a TA for the Ecosystem Science and Management Department’s senior capstone course for three years and recently earned the highest graduate teaching award conferred by the ESSM Department in recognition of her efforts. She has also served as instructor of record for the past two years teaching Natural Resource Policy, an on-line, writing intensive course. Dianne prides herself on devoting time outside of the classroom to help her students develop. As her advisor, Dr. Urs Kreuter commented, “Dianne goes well above and beyond the call of duty of a teacher. She is generous to a fault with her time to help students master the subject matter and complete their writing assignments. She is also a willing mentor to students who approach her for advice.” In April 2013, Dianne was further recognized for her teaching accomplishments by being chosen to receive the Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dianne’s record of teaching and service also extends outside of the classroom, where she volunteers as a girl’s tball coach and with the local school district, teaching reading skills to dyslexic children. Congratulations to Dianne and David for their outstanding accomplishments during their PhD programs – they have both worked hard to earn these scholarly achievements. Congratulations are also in order for Dr. Urs Kreuter who serves as chair of the dissertation committee for both of these students.