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Kalispell man awarded Fulbright scholarship

by UM News Service
| May 27, 2020 1:00 AM

Scott Waller, a graduate student in the University of Montana’s Wildlife Biology program, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Russia during the 2020-21 academic year.

Waller, a native of Kalispell, is one of six UM students to receive a Fulbright Scholarship this year. The recipients continue UM’s legacy of securing Fulbright Scholarships, said Clint Walker, the UM Fulbright adviser and an associate professor of Russian.

“We had a 50% success rate this year,” Walker said. “This percentage is well above the national average and speaks to the high quality of our UM applicants for Fulbrights.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.

Waller will conduct research in the Russian Far East, testing new ways to monitor prey species of Amur (Siberian) tigers to foster tiger conservation.

“Specifically, I’m comparing new methods for estimating prey population size using camera traps, developed recently here at UM by my fellow graduate student Anna Moeller, with traditional Russian snow tracking techniques,” Waller said.

Because of COVID-19, the Fulbright program has been postponed until later this year or January 2021, but when Waller does go overseas, he will be based in a small village called Terney on the coast of the Sea of Japan.

“The village is surrounded by the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve, a stronghold for the Amur tiger population,” Waller said. “Russian scientists have conducted research there on Amur tiger ecology since the reserve’s formation in 1935 and have worked closely with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia Program during the last quarter-century to protect this flagship species.”

Waller, whose parents are both alumni of UM’s Wildlife Biology program, said he wants to continue working as a wildlife biologist in international conservation.

“The global community needs to work together to solve our global conservation problems, even when the political situation is tense,” he said. “The relationship between the Sikhote-Alin Reserve and Wildlife Conservation Society is a great example of this, and I’m lucky to be able to work with and learn from them.”

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit https://us.fulbrightonline.org/.