The Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence is given annually to a WSU Vancouver faculty member whose research quality and quantity are exemplary, and whose work has had a positive influence on the broader community. It is the university’s highest research honor.
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
This year’s awardee is Cheryl Schultz, associate professor of biological sciences, whose environmental research is helping to protect at-risk species through improved conservation practices. Schultz, head of WSU Vancouver’s Conservation Biology research group, focuses on butterflies as a model system for endangered species. She explores the ecology of at-risk populations and how to translate scientific knowledge into on-the-ground practices that protect the environment while enabling those who live in a place to use its resources.
In 2017, Schultz and her frequent collaborator, Elizabeth Crone of Tufts University, published a study that documented the rapid decline of western monarchs and made worldwide headlines. Her main focus, however, is not so much to assess risks but to be part of the solution, and her studies have generated much hopeful news.
Several nature reserves adopting study recommendations have made great strides in restoring land for butterfly habitat, reducing weeds and enhancing nectar resources. Schultz and Crone are currently studying the viability of various species on Department of Defense lands. The research will lead to activities designed expressly to improve land stewardship.
“I want to leave people with a sense of the possible,” Schultz said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but we can do this.”
Schultz joined WSU Vancouver in spring 2003. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies at Bowdoin College in Maine, and her Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Washington.
Related: Office of Research and Graduate Education