Alumna gets presidential award for ecosystem studies

Originally posted: November 3, 2011

Sasha Reed '97Sasha Reed ’97, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Reed was one of 94 recipients this year.

Her research investigates how ecosystems respond to global change and has added new directions to the fields of biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology, according to the USGS.

Highlights of Reed’s research include biofuels development in the southwestern United States; climate change and its effects on terrestrial ecosystems; nitrogen deposition; and beetle infestation and its consequences.

Her research has transformed the way scientists conceptualize and model ecosystems and has helped provide critical information to decision makers for land management issues, according to the USGS.

“It is such an honor to receive this prestigious award–I am beside myself,” said Reed. “I am proud because I feel I work on topics that are relevant to society. Terrestrial ecosystems are critical to our existence. They hold up our houses, provide most of our food, and offer places that are meaningful to us and our history. My goal is to understand what makes these ecosystems work the way they do.”

Reed has served and built connections with government agencies, academic institutions, and the public at large. She is currently collaborating and assisting in education and outreach alongside the National Park Service, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and others.

“Being a scientist is fun, and I enjoy working with kids and exposing them to science and engineering,” said Reed. “I use different approaches with kids to show them that science isn’t just something that happens in the classroom or in the field. We use science all the time.”

Reed earned a BA in organic chemistry from Colgate in 1997. She began her tenure with the USGS as a technician in 1998, which inspired her to get her PhD.

She earned a doctorate in ecology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2008; was an NSF IGERT fellow from 2003-2005, and an NSF graduate research fellow from 2005-2008.

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