PhD student wins scholarship to study jaguars

Joe Figel, a UCF PhD candidate studying conservation biology, won a prestigious scholarship from the Wild Felid Research and Management Association to study jaguars.

Figel will study jaguar ecology in fragmented Neotropical landscapes, with an emphasis on corridor design in agricultural areas. The goal of the study is to provide insight into how

unprotected lands can be better managed to support conservation of big cats and their prey.

Twelve students applied for the scholarship and Figel was one of two students to win the coveted award. Applicants were judged on the innovativeness, importance and applicability of their research topic.

They also had to provide a resume, letters of reference, previous GPAs and a personal essay describing their interest in wild felid research, their career goals and how they would use the award.

“We selected Joe and Anthony, in part, because of their passion for wild felids and their excellent academic records,” a WFA spokesperson wrote in an e-mail announcement for the award.

“Joe has a desire to study big cats in non‐protected landscapes, and has plans to collaborate with Mexican biologists and to train local people.”

The WFA was formed to address the challenges facing the management and conservation of wild felid populations. WFA encourages a cooperative and interdisciplinary approach among researchers, managers, land use planners, educators, conservationists, and the public to foster and promote sound management and conservation of wild felids across the Western Hemisphere.

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