Doctoral Student Awarded Big 10-Smithsonian Fellowship
Doctoral student Sarah (Gussie) MacCracken has been awarded one of five Big 10 Academic/Smithsonian Institution Fellowships for the 2018-19 academic year. This one-year fellowship is offered by the graduate deans of the Big 10 Academic Alliance in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships to support research conducted in residence in Smithsonian Institution facilities.
MacCracken is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Entomology and is advised by Professor Jeffrey Shultz and conducts her research in the Department of Paleobiology in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Her research focuses on insect herbivory of western North America during the Late Cretaceous period.
She explains how insect damage on fossil leaves provides direct evidence of plants and insects interacting in the distant past and is vital for reconstructing ancient ecosystems. This will allow her to determine the degree to which patterns of diversity, host plant specificity, and the geographic distribution of insect herbivory can be detected in the fossil record, and the extent to which these patterns have been changed by past extinction events and environmental change.
The BTAA-SI Fellowship carries a stipend of $36,000 (plus tuition and health benefits), which is shared on a 50/50 basis by the Smithsonian Institution and the Fellow’s university. The Graduate School sponsors the fellowship for UMD recipients. MacCracken is the eighth UMD recipient of the Big Ten Academic Alliance-Smithsonian Institution Fellowship since 2014.