Published: Dec. 4, 2020

EBIO senior and EBIO Accelerated Master’s student Austin Nash received a 2020 Astronaut Scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Federation. This national scholarship awards undergraduates in STEM fields who have demonstrated excellence in both research and academics and who plan to pursue an advanced degree. 

Austin is a member of the McCain Mountain Lab under PI Dr. Christy McCain. The McCain lab uses mountains as natural experiments to study biodiversity, ecological theory, global change, montane ecology, and range limits. In the McCain lab, Austin runs two research projects related to how climate change influences the persistence of wildlife species. Austin studies how the spatial arrangement of microclimates can create areas of more suitable conditions that are potentially only accessible to small-bodied mammals. Secondly, Austin is studying how changing climate and land use influence persistence of Wyoming Ground Squirrel populations. He is combining historical museum data that span over a hundred years, and resurveying historical populations with current intensive fieldwork in multiple states. Both of these projects are supported by UROP grants from CU as well as funding from EBIO and the CU Museum of Natural History. 

Austin also recently defended his already-published, undergraduate honors thesis exploring how health influences alarm calling in yellow-bellied marmots (Nash et al. 2020. Current Zoology: Austin presented his work at the national meetings of the  Ecological Society of America in 2020 and the Guild of Rocky Mountain Ecologists and Evolutionary Biologists in 2019. Austin also has a manuscript in review that examines the impact of human recreation on mammal activity in nature preserves in his hometown near Los Angeles, CA. 

After graduating from the EBIO Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s program, Austin wishes to pursue a research career at a federal agency (e.g., US Forest Service or US Geological Survey) or in academia. Austin plans to pursue a PhD in behavioral landscape ecology, to equip managers with an improved understanding of how animal behavior impacts wildlife conservation in an era of rapid environmental change.