MISSOULA – University of Montana doctoral candidate Eric Palm recently was selected for the prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. He is the only Montana University System student to receive the competitive funding this year.

Eric Palm (UM Photo)
Eric Palm (UM Photo)

Palm and his adviser, Professor Mark Hebblewhite, were awarded $45,000 to study animal movement using ecosystem-scale models for caribou. They use remote sensing and GPS collar data collected by cooperating state, federal and provincial agencies across northwestern North America.

The researchers are building movement and habitat selection models for caribou as part of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment project, known as ABoVE. The goal of Palm’s work is to understand consequences of land-use and climate change effects on caribou habitat and populations across the arctic-boreal region.

The ABoVE project that Palm and Hebblewhite are a part of seeks to understand how highly mobile animals navigate and select habitat. Their project is led by Natalie Boelman at Columbia University with four co-investigators in addition to Hebblewhite. The tools and models developed by the team will be available to natural resource agencies, wildlife managers, First Nations, Alaskan natives and other stakeholders to aid them in management and adaptive decisions.

Palm is from Portland, Oregon. He completed an undergraduate degree in Colorado and master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Each year NASA funds fellowships in its four main research areas: earth science, heliophysics, planetary science and astrophysics. Palm and 68 other applicants were funded for earth science fellowships out of 348 applicants.

For more information on ABoVE visit https://above.nasa.gov/.

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