Biology professor appointed Bullard Fellow at Harvard University

Haley Adam, Correspondent

Wilkes biology professor and H. Fenner Chair of Research Biology, Michael Steele, was appointed a Bullard Fellow at Harvard for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Steele’s research interests focus on how acorn characteristics influence how, why and where animals move acorn seeds and how the behavioral decisions they make, in turn, influence oak seeding establishment.

“My research examines the close ecological and evolutionary relationship between the oaks, their fruit, acorns and the animals that disperse acorns, primarily squirrels, other rodents and jays,” Steele said.

The fellowship will allow Steele to spend about a year conducting research at the Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, which is about 3,500 acres. In past research publications, Steele has focused on the subject of oak dispersal and oak-animal interactions. He went to the Harvard Forest to research more on the topic at hand. Since arriving at Wilkes 23 years ago, this had been an ongoing focus of much of Steeleā€™s research.

Steele will be working alongside several internationally renowned forest ecologists, and a “small army” of very competent post doctorates, doctoral students, staff and technicians. He is given complete freedom in his research and study.

“On the one hand, it is at times intimidating to be surrounded by so many leaders in the field, but its also energizing and inspiring,” he said.

Established in 1962, the Charles Bullard Fellowship program was created to support the study and advanced research of individuals likely to make important contributions as scholars or administrators in forest ecology. Steele has made important contributions, and will continue to make more under this fellowship.