HSU Students Take Top Honors at STEM Conference - Humboldt State Now

HSU Students Take Top Honors at STEM Conference

Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, Gritidach Manakitivipart (Matee) wasn’t exposed to the opportunities beyond the urban environment and to life sciences at school. “That wasn’t really promoted as a career as much as it is in the U.S. Even so, I was still very interested in nature,” says Matee. Today, he’s not just pursuing his love of nature as a Wildlife major at Humboldt State. He’s also being recognized for his research on a small, relatively unstudied songbird.

Gritidach Manakitivipart

Matee is one of two HSU students have been honored for their outstanding research by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

He and Cam Trujillo were among the nearly 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students from around the country who presented topics ranging from biofuels and alternative energies to water management and breast cancer at the annual SACNAS national conference in Washington D.C.

Matee, an active member of HSU’s Indian Natural Resources, Science, And Engineering Program (INRSEP), was honored for his presentation on “Gray Vireo (Vireo vicinior) Nesting Success and Site Selection in Response to Prescribed Fire on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.” He was also recognized with the Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Presentation in Ocean Engineering award at the 2013 SACNAS conference.

He and University of Wisconsin, Madison, student Maia Persche assisted Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge Manager Kathy Granillo with an on-going monitoring project on a relatively unstudied songbird in New Mexico. “I didn’t do this alone. My mentors, colleagues, and support from INRSEP helped me to get to where I am today.”

Matee monitoring a Gray Vireo nest using an extendable mirror pole at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

A plain, but lively desert scrub bird, the Gray Vireo breeds in parts of the southwest, including New Mexico, where it’s considered threatened. As Research Experience for Undergraduates interns, he and Persche worked with Granillo to examine the effects of a low-intensity prescribed fire on the bird.

“I think that this research was a great opportunity to gain experience in the field and help me prepare for the rigors of graduate school.

Read the project abstract

Also recognized for his undergraduate poster presentation was senior Cam Trujillo, a Math and Physics major, for his project on “Studying Dark Matter/Baryon Interactions And Their Effects On The Distribution Of Mass In Galaxies.”

Read the project abstract

More than 3,400 students and science professionals from underrepresented backgrounds gathered for three days of cutting-edge science, mentoring, networking, and professional development at the conference. Honored speakers included DJ Patil, U.S. Chief Data Scientist at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and Assistant Deputy Secretary Department of Interior Mike Connor.

SACNAS is a society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists—from college students to professionals—to attain advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in science. It’s the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary STEM diversity organization in the U.S., reaching a community of nearly 20,000.

Representatives from colleges, universities, government agencies, and industry across the nation share thousands of opportunities with attendees at each annual conference. Find out more at www.sacnas.org.