The Becky Colvin Memorial Award provides juniors enrolled in the Minor in Environmental Studies or majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) with support for travel, research supplies and other expenses associated with field research for their senior thesis. Awardees are selected by the executive director of HMEI and the chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in consultation with the Colvin family.

The award was established in memory of Becky Colvin ’95, an EEB major who was strongly committed to ecology and environmental studies. More than 50 Princeton undergraduates have received the award since 1999.


Applying for the Award

The Becky Colvin Memorial Award application for 2024 opens Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 22, 2024.

As you prepare materials for your application in the future, please keep in mind you will need to organize the following items:

  • A project title and a description addressing the environmental relevance of your proposed topic (in Word);
  • An itemized budget detailing the costs associated with your research and travel (in Excel);
  • A list of all other funding sources you have received and any you have applied for (in Word);
  • A copy of your transcript (unofficial copy will be accepted); and
  • A letter of recommendation from your faculty thesis adviser – must be received by Friday, March 22, 2024.

Please feel free to reach out to Emily Ahmetaj, Internship Program Manager if you have any questions.


2023 Becky Colvin Memorial Award Recipients

Max Gotts ’24, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Thesis Title: Allopatric and sympatric acoustic divergence in Oophaga pumilio throughout the Bocas del Toro Archipelago

Advised by Stephen Pacala, Frederick D. Petrie professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, Gotts is studying the calls of strawberry poison-dart frogs in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Panamá to understand how speciation occurs in frogs. While the archipelago is known for its striking visual diversity of strawberry poison-dart frogs, which take on all colours of the rainbow throughout the region, Gotts is using the methods of bioacoustics — biological eavesdropping — to understand how “species barriers” form. Frogs only mate with frogs that have the same calls as them, so determining the factors that cause them to evolve new calls is critical for understanding how species form. By investigating a range of habitats, locations, and islands, Gotts aims to understand the mechanisms that promote call divergence. Preliminary results seem to suggest that human disturbance may play a significant role in mediating the divergence and evolution of these frogs’ calls, interfering with the speciation process.


Mae Kennedy ’24, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Thesis Title: How Fynbos Plants Adapt Belowground Strategies in the Presence of Invasive Pine Trees

Advised by Lars Hedin, George M. Moffett associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and the High Meadows Institute, Kennedy is researching how commercially-planted Pinus radiata are affecting the belowground competitive strategies of endemic plants in the South African Fynbos shrubland. She will evaluate how various Fynbos shrubs have adapted and will continue to adapt to the novel conditions created by invasive pines.


Colby McArthur ’24, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Thesis Title: Does DNA methylation serve as a mechanism for the plastic response of yellow-bellied marmots?

Advised by Bridgett vonHoldt, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, MacArthur will collect and perform DNA methylation sequencing on blood samples from yellow-bellied marmots at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratories, investigating how DNA methylation may serve as a mechanism that explains the link between warmer springtime temperatures and earlier emergence times from hibernation (a trend that has been observed as global climate change affects local climate patterns in the Rocky Mountains).


Past Recipients

Year Recipient (click name for stories)
Major Adviser(s) Senior Thesis Title
2022 Darcy Chang EEB Mary Caswell Stoddard Hummingbird Pollination Behavior in the Rocky Mountains
2022 Joanna Shoubaki EEB Sarah Kocher Chemical Signaling in Lasioglossum baleicum
2021 Willow Dalehite EEB Christina Riehl Pair-bond and Parental Care Behavior in the Socially Monogamous Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
2021 Katherine Irelan EEB Lars Hedin Impact of Water Stress on Nutrient Acquisition and Below-Ground Traits of Model Plant Leptecophylla tameiameiae
2020 Joe Kawalec EEB Mary Caswell Stoddard Warning and Cryptic Coloration in Woodpecker Camouflage
2019 Maria Stahl EEB Robert Pringle Understanding the Role of Fire in Maintaining Herbivore Diversity in a Recovering Savanna Ecosystem
2018 Daniel Petticord EEB Robert Pringle The Ecology of the Leopard Tortoise
2017 Alana Reynolds EEB Robert Pringle Strategies that Can Prevent Elephant Crop-Raiding in Farming Communities Bordering Gorongosa National Park
2016 Zoe Sims EEB Stephen Pacala Impacts of Anthropogenically Enriched Groundwater Discharge on Bermuda’s Near-shore Coral Reefs and the Role of Bermuda’s Herbivorous Fish in Maintaining the Reef Ecosystem
2015 Connor Stonesifer EEB Lars Hedin Phosphorus Utilization in Panamanian Tropical Forests
2015 Kathryn Grabowski CEE Rob Pringle Consequences of a Vegetation Shift Following the War-Driven Loss of Large Mammals in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
2014 Katherine Smith EEB Lars Hedin Assessing the Efficiency of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Uptake in the Backwaters and Wetlands of the Lower Mississippi Watershed
2013 Lauren Wyman EEB Robert Pringle Analyzing the Impact of a Dual Lizard Introduction on Orb-weaver Spider Communities in the Bahamas: An Experimental Approach
2013 Elizabeth McKenna EEB Simon Levin Researching the Effects of Varying Light and Sedimentation Conditions on the Growth Rates of Juvenile Corals at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS)
2012 Abigail Hewitt EEB Andrew Dobson Land-Use Dynamics on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula: A Model for Balancing Ecological, Economic and Social Development
2012 Tara Thean EEB James Gould Signature Whistle Models in Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus
2011 Madelon Case EEB Simon Levin Gopher Disturbances and Plant Community Dynamics in Montane Meadows
2011 Sara Nason GEO Satish Myneni The Effects of Elevated Soil CO2 on Plant Uptake of Metals
2010 Hannah Barkley EEB Stephen Pacala The Effect of Temperature and Feeding on the Early Tissue Growth and Calcification of the Atlantic Coral Porites astreoides
2009 Sarah Chambliss EEB David Wilcove Land Degradation and Plant Community Change: Examining the Case of Sansevieria volkensii, a Native Plant Spreading in Kenya
2009 Josephine Walker EEB Simon Levin Acaricide Use and the Control of Theileria parva at the Wildlife-Livestock Disease Interface in Kenya
2008 Ruth Schwab EEB Stuart Altmann, Henry Horn From Wild Apples to Modern Cultivars: Chemical Profile Changes of Sugars, Acids and the Phenolics Over Selective Time
2007 Nathan Crumpton SOC Elizabeth Armstrong Dissonant Realities: Behind the Veil of AIDS in Tanzania
2007 Jonah Wagner WWS David Wilcove Water-Pricing Reform and Water Service Sustainability: Case Studies of Hyderabad and Johannesburg
2006 Meha Jain EEB Daniel Rubenstein Measuring the Effects of Cattle on Land and Wildlife in Laikipia, Kenya
2006 Aliya Sanders EEB Lars Hedin Nutrient Limitation on N2 Fixation by Acacia saligna Stands of the Western Cape, South Africa
2004 Wenfei Tong EEB Daniel Rubenstein On the Genetic Structure of Plains Zebra Populations and Societies: Insights from Non-invasive Microsatellite Genotyping
2004 Olympia Moy EEB David Wilcove The “Grain-to-Green” Program and Its Implications for the Conservation of Giant Panda Habitat in Woolong National Nature Reserve, China
2003 John Kim EEB   Effects of Cultivation and Proximity to Natural Habitat on Ground-nesting Native Bees in California Sunflower Fields
2002 Andrew Bryant HIS   Social, Economic and Environmental Transformations Following the Introduction of Coffee to the Kilmanjaro Region of Tanzania, 1900
2000 Amanda Hawn EEB   Early Juvenile Mortality in a Cohort of Chromis cyanea: The Grownth Mortality Hypothesis Revisited
1999 Mark Cornwall EEB Daniel Rubenstein An Analysis of the Competitive Interaction Between Two Sympatric Species of Zebra: Equus greyvi and Equus burchelli