Dereck Stonefish, a Sitting Bull College (SBC) alumnus, was recently awarded $151,500 to conduct research on the migratory ecology of red-winged blackbirds and yellow-headed blackbirds that make North Dakota their summer home.
The money comes from the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and he is the first SBC graduate to ever receive it.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) said Stonefish was selected “based on his outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as his potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. Science and Engineering enterprise.”
The award is doled out over a three-year period (2011-2014) and is meant to cover research-related expenses.
“I’m happy, humbled and very grateful to be given such an opportunity afforded by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship,” Stonefish said in an SBC press release. He is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and is currently pursuing a doctorate in zoology at North Dakota State University (NDSU).
He plans to use geo-locators that will track the bird’s movements from North Dakota to their wintering grounds and back.
“His project not only will provide major insights into the migratory ecology of these species, but the information will also be used to assess how impacts of global climate change may affect migration of these birds," said Dr. Erin Gillam, assistant professor of Biological Sciences, and Stonefish's advisor at NDSU.