Friends Support Student Research 

Interested in doing research within the Monument boundary? The Friends Research Fund annually awards individual grants ranging from $250 - $1500 to undergraduate and graduate students for faculty-supervised projects that enhance an understanding, appreciation, preservation, and/or protection of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

meet our 2019 grant recipients

We are pleased to announce the 2019 funded projects through the Friends Research Fund. We awarded four projects this year from four different institutions, a first for the Friends! In no particular order, we are excited to introduce the projects and people to you:

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Clare O'Connell: Humboldt State University

Clare is a Humboldt State University undergraduate, graduating Summa Cum Laude this May with a degree in Zoology. She has been accepted into Humboldt State's Master's program in Biology under the advising of Dr. Melissa Hawkins. With a focus in mammalogy, Clare intends to dedicate her life to advocating for those (animals) which cannot speak for themselves. 

Camping in the Cascade Siskiyou National monument over the course of five days, Clare will be directing a group of scientists to collect data via small mammal trapping; the target of this expedition is a group of chipmunks native to the Pacific Northwest. The Townsend's chipmunks include a number of "species" which currently have unresolved genetic relationships, leading to uncertainty of whether or not they can actually be called distinct species. In order for animals to be appropriately managed and protected, these relationships must be resolved; Clare and her team are taking on this very task. 

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Sam Cooke: University of Oregon

What moves mountains? Why does the landscape look the way it does? How can we reconcile our experience with the enormity of our planet and its fascinating history? These are some of the questions that motivate Sam as a geologist. He strives to unfold the stories rocks tell through observation and analysis. Currently, Sam is an undergraduate at the University of Oregon graduating in June with a degree in Geology. In the future Sam hopes to continue spending time with rocks and engaging with interesting geo-social challenges.

In the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument there is a stunning assemblage of wilderness. The foundation of this wilderness is the rocks upon which life grows. Around 25 million years ago volcanoes began creating parts of the landscape surface we see in the CSNM, spewing lava across vast regions. Sam is assisting Professor Jad D’Allura of SOU in mapping these different volcanic rocks and identifying their compositions in order to create a clearer picture of Oregon’s geologic past.

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Crystal Nichols: Southern Oregon Univsersity

Crystal is a photographer turned filmmaker with a passion for connecting people with the natural world. She earned an Aquatic Biology degree from Ball State University, and is currently pursuing a M.S. in Environmental Education at Southern Oregon University. Through her career and life, Crystal strives to increase awareness of the need for mindful stewardship while encouraging action.

Crystal will be producing a documentary The Monument Within, a medium length film that will highlight the "heartbeat of the west coast," the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. From the habitats of thundering waterfalls to the high desert, and everything between, this film will speak to the importance of the Monument's biodiversity that spans all life forms.

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Eli Livezey and Mac Patton : Evergreen State College

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Eli (above) is a senior at The Evergreen State College studying Ecology, Chemistry, and Fungi. Currently, he is working with his facility advisor, Dr. Lalita Calabria, and partnered with John Villella to research the chemistry, genetics, and microbiology of the rare and endangered Lipstick Lichen (Umbilicaria phaea var coccinea). By conducting this research, the team hopes to contribute to the newly evolving perspective of the symbioses that make up all lichens.

Mac (below) is a senior at The Evergreen State College where he currently studies bioinformatics, genetics, and taxonomy. His past academic experience has focused on biology and chemistry. He has pursued a personal and academic interest in the taxonomy and cultivation of bryophytes and lichens for about three years in Washington State and Oregon. During his current academic year, he has shifted his goals to learning computer programming and genetics through the lens of lichens and bioinformatics.

Lichens were previously thought to be made up of a fungus and algae/cyanobacteria. Now, it is known that lichens are much more like little ecosystems, with many organisms growing together to benefit each other.

When walking through the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, a hiker may be lucky enough to venture through a rocky slope covered with the vibrantly red Lipstick Lichen (Umbilicaria phaea var. coccinea). Cascade-Siskiyou is home to a significant portion of the few known locations of the Lipstick Lichen, making it even more important to conserve. The Lipstick Lichen is a State-listed (OR and WA) critically endangered lichen and its range is restricted to just a few locations in the PNW. Lipstick Lichen’s less colorful close relative The Common Rock Tripe (Umbilicaria phaea var. phaea) is widespread from southern CA to Vancouver Canada and as far east as Utah.

Eli and Mac’s objectives are to evaluate the chemical and microbiome differences between The Common Rock Tripe and the endangered Lipstick Lichen to further our understanding of lichen symbiosis and to better inform conservation efforts. This research began in January 2019 and is being conducted by a team of students at The Evergreen State College led by Dr. Lalita Calabria and John Villella.


This grant is available to students who:

  • Are studying in areas of biology, environmental sciences, sociology, arts and humanities, or business

  • Are currently enrolled as a Junior or Senior Undergraduate or a Graduate with good academic standing at a state or regional college or university

  • Have successfully completed (with a passing grade or better) coursework in at least one upper division course related to their area of study

Application Process:

The application process is currently closed and will open up again in early 2020. If you would like more information, please email to Friends Student Research Grant.

Application materials include:

The Monument Research Symposium is a culminating event where these students share findings with the public.

If you have questions, email Friends Student Research Grant

PreviousLY AwARDED Student Research Projects

The Friends Research Fund 2018 grants were awarded to three student projects. Neil Clayton and Emily Lind, both Southern Oregon students, and Dylan Carlini, University of Oregon. They conduct research in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument during summer 2018. More about their work.

Student leadership 

Providing leadership opportunities for college students is a big part of how the Friends engages the local community.

Every year a Student Board Member is selected from the incoming Master of Science in Environmental Education program at SOU. These students gain quintessential leadership skills in communication and outreach, board structure, and in understanding how non-profits work.

Additionally, the Friends hire student leaders to plan and organize the Summer Hike and Learn Series and contribute to the BioBlitz planning. 

These opportunities not only enrich the students who take on these positions, but also keep the Friends group more dynamic and diverse.