Graduate student Claire Nemes receives UMCES Student Service Award

May 13, 2022

Graduate student Claire Nemes, a Ph.D. candidate with a research focus on birds, has been awarded the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Student Service Award for a high level of engagement and service to the Appalachian Laboratory (AL), UMCES, and the broader community.

“Besides her stellar scientific credentials and a highly contagious passion for birds and ornithology research, Claire is an enthusiastic and fervent community builder who works to improve the lives of those around her,” said UMCES Appalachian Laboratory Director David Nelson. “The Appalachian Laboratory and UMCES have benefited greatly from her efforts.”

The award honors a graduate student who has provided outstanding service to their laboratory unit, UMCES, the University System of Maryland, their community, government agencies, and/or professional societies over the course of their tenure, contributions that are vitally important to the UMCES community and constituencies but are often overlooked in comparison to more traditional academic or scientific achievements.

Focusing her graduate work on bird research, Nemes has given more than a dozen talks to community groups about bird migration or the ecological impacts of free-roaming cats on birds. She recently became a board member and secretary of BirdLab, a bird banding and conservation nonprofit in Pittsburgh, PA, and has volunteered in several bird banding and survey efforts in western Maryland and nearby Pennsylvania. She has organized countless bird walks in western Maryland, developed educational materials to teach visitors about the challenges of bird migration, and recruited a local cub scout troop to construct and install 14 birdhouses on the AL campus.

Nemes has a record of educating herself and others to actively promote inclusivity, equity, and diversity. She is a co-founder of a group focused on implementing DEI efforts at the Appalachian Laboratory, including organizing and leading meetings and coordinating initiatives to promote a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all members of the AL community. She is also first to welcome new people and is the first to volunteer to meet with prospective students and share information about AL and its community.

In service to UMCES, Claire served on a working group for the self-study for reaccreditation by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education, the Graduate Student Council (2018-2021), and UMCES’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Collaborative, her efforts including being a lead writer of UMCES’ Principles of Conduct.

Located in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, scientists at UMCES’ Appalachian Laboratory conduct research on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including air and water quality, wildlife management, and land conservation throughout the world, with an emphasis on the rich and diverse environments of Western Maryland and the broader Appalachian region.