Introducing SAF’s 2022-2023 Mollie Beattie Visiting Scholars

September 15, 2022

This year, we are excited to welcome Joseph Endris and Stella Schons as the 2022–23 cohort of Mollie Beattie Visiting Scholars! Mollie Beattie visiting scholars are supported for a one-year term with a $10,000 scholarship to pursue a proposed research project in their field of focus. They also have the chance to connect with relevant SAF Working Groups, submit a research article to an SAF journal, and spend a week at our headquarters in Washington, DC to collaborate with staff and partners. 

Joseph Endris is pursuing a Masters of Science in Biology at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. For his research, Endris is studying the thermal tolerances in upland hardwood tree species to determine which are most at risk from increased summer temperatures associated with climate change.

“As temperatures increase, the leaf’s ability to conduct photosynthesis will reach an upper limit where efficiency will drop off. This could lead to shifts in the ranges of various tree species with numerous second and third order effects on forestry and conservation,” Endris explained.  

Endris has had a fascination with forests for as long as he can remember. He grew up in the woods of his grandfather’s farm in central Illinois and went on to spend a significant amount of time in the woods while training in the Army and as a backpacker. After studying Chestnut Blight, Dutch Elm Disease, and the Emerald Ash Borer as an undergraduate, Endris started to think about how species shifts occurred due to mass mortality events; he now studies tree populations as a graduate student. 

Stella Schons is an assistant professor at Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. Schons will investigate the incentives driving the decision to plant or not plant trees in urban settings by low-income and minority-group belonging families in the United States. She aims to understand how the incentives to plant trees by these groups may be affected by urban forestry policy interventions, such as payments for ecosystem services (PES) or community-integrated tree planting decisions. Schons will be working with communities in Prince George’s County, Maryland (not far from SAF headquarters) collecting preference data on tree plantings in public rights-of-way. Schons will be conducting this pilot research alongside the Neighborhood Design Center and with some seed funding from the Policy Destination Area at Virginia Tech. 

As Schons told us, her previous research had been undertaken with small landholders in the tropics, especially in the Brazilian Amazon and in India.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, I started reviewing my research program and I realized that many of the problems experienced by people I worked with in developing countries are also faced by under-represented and under-served Americans, such as property rights insecurity and—in the case of urban communities—inequality in access to the benefits provided by urban tree canopies,” Schons said.

She is working at the intersection of development and conservation on research that has the potential to generate important insights for urban forestry policy and the communities that can be served by it. 

Established by the SAF Board of Directors in 2016, the SAF Mollie Beattie Visiting Scholar Program is named after Mollie Beattie, the first woman to head the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Educated in philosophy and forestry, she inspired, mentored, and dared her friends, colleagues, and young people to be more and do more than they thought possible. To honor her legacy, SAF established this program to foster diversity in the natural resource professions. If you would like to donate to support this program, please visit the SAF Mollie Beattie donation page.