BASF Sponsors Doctoral Fellowship in Sustainability to Study Monarch Butterfly Conservation

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The BASF Corporation is giving $220,000 over four years to the U of A Office for Sustainability and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies to support a four-year doctoral fellowship to explore policies and practices to protect and restore habitat for Monarch butterflies across the U.S.

Maximilian M. Safarpour, head of Global Regulatory and Government Affairs for BASF in the U.S., announced of the gift at BASF’s annual conference on Strategy and Insights for Regulatory Success. Safarpour received his doctorate in Agriculture from the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences in 1987. BASF Corporation’s research office is based in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and is the largest affiliate of BASF SE, located in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

BASF's Max Safarpour, right, introduces Marty Matlock at BASF's annual sustainability conference in North Carolina.

“Monarch butterflies are amazing creatures; they migrate across North America over generations across the central US to winter in Mexico” said Marty Matlock, executive director of U of A Sustainability Programs and professor in the College of Engineering. “This research project will allow us to better analyze and understand how our land management decisions are impacting this great species, and how we can restore critical ecosystem services across the U.S. This gift from BASF will allow us to fill many critical gaps in research across government agencies, conservation organizations, and other universities.”

Jack Cothren, director of CAST and associate professor of geosciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is leading the research efforts for this project.

“The U of A has unique geospatial analytical tools to expand national research efforts for Monarch conservation,” Cothren said. “Our research team’s understanding of geospatial land use, land use change, USDA land management policies, state and county conservation programs and ecological restoration strategies will move the National Monarch Project findings into practices.”

“Optimizing habitat across more than nine states that make up the Monarch butterfly central migratory flyway is the best chance we have to restore resilience in the Monarch population” said Kusum Naithani, assistant professor of biology and leader of the landscape ecology analysis for the project.

“This project highlights the global leadership of U of A sustainability programs in creating interdisciplinary teams to advance our understanding of complex sustainability challenges, enhance our ability to restore critical ecosystem services, and improve communications to protect species being impacted by human activities” said Matlock. “We are bringing together geosciences, ecology, engineering, agricultural policy and technology to create a more resilient ecosystem for all living things. In the short time since we started this project we are already assuming a key role in coordinating other Monarch research and conservation initiatives across the U.S.”

Contacts

Cassandra Gronendyke, administrative specialist
Office for Sustainability
479-575-3715, cmgronen@uark.edu

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