Allison Moser, of Ashburn, Virginia, the College of Natural Resources and Environment’s 2017 Outstanding Senior, has dedicated herself to research, leadership, and conservation efforts during her four years at Virginia Tech.

Described by her professors as a highly motivated, exceptional student, Moser, a wildlife conservation major with a minor in environmental policy and planning, has combined a love of the outdoors with a strong desire to engage with people and communicate science to the public in meaningful ways.

Moser has served as both the vice president and president of the Virginia Tech Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society and participated in the college’s Leadership Institute, a two-semester, competitive admission course focused on helping students develop the leadership skills necessary to solve complex problems in natural resources management and environmental conservation.

During her sophomore year, Moser put her leadership skills into practice during an internship with the Audubon Naturalist Society, where she helped develop educational and outreach materials.

“Ally is intelligent, inquisitive, a creative problem-solver, and unafraid to grapple with challenging societal problems,” said Carola Haas, professor of wildlife ecology. “She has an affinity for wild places and things, and excellent people skills. She is very aware of the importance of being able to communicate with the public and especially to policy makers.”

Moser has completed multiple undergraduate research projects, including a 2016 study on the Appalachian cottontail, a rare rabbit species, conducted under an Atlantic Coast Conference Creativity and Innovation Fellowship. In 2017, she represented Virginia Tech at the 12th Annual ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference, where she gave a poster presentation about her research experience using camera traps to survey the species.

In 2015, she served as a field technician for an amphibian study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey at the Blackrock Ranger Station in Moran, Wyoming, and for a salamander sampling study conducted in Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, which she continues to be involved with.

In addition to extensive internship and research experience, Moser has also used her knowledge and passion for the outdoors to help give back to her community. She has volunteered with numerous organizations and participated in restoration, conservation, and educational efforts with such organizations as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Mountain Lake Biological Station. She has devoted her time and energy to everything from invasive plant removal and habitat restoration efforts for box turtles, to educational events for children and adults.

Moser, who has an in-major GPA of 4.00, is the recipient of multiple scholarships and grants, and has also worked hard to help support her fellow students. She has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in Haas’ Wildlife Field Biology course and as an Honors Residential Commons Apartment Fellow.

Her advisor, William Hopkins, professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation and director of the Global Change Center, said of Moser, “Of the hundreds of undergraduates that I have had the pleasure of teaching and mentoring over my career, Ally certainly stands out. She is among the most professional and driven undergraduates I have ever worked with. With the knowledge and leadership skills she gained at Virginia Tech, I am confident that she will become a leader in natural resources conservation and a strong role model for aspiring scientists.”

After graduation, Moser plans to gain more experience in fieldwork and environmental policy before applying to graduate programs. This summer, she will be a field technician in the lab of W. Mark Ford, associate professor of wildlife, assisting with acoustic and capture surveys for bats, with special interest in threatened and endangered species. She hopes that a series of similar experiences over the next year will prepare her to address issues in the research-policy interface as a part of a master’s thesis.

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