Oren Pollak Research Fund

Awarding grants to graduate and post-doctorate students for grassland ecology research

Oren Pollak Research Fund

The Oren Pollak Research Fund was established in 2000 in memory of Dr. Oren Pollak, a leading grassland ecologist, restoration pioneer, and a champion and mentor for grassland ecology students. As The Nature Conservancy’s lead ecologist in California in the early 1990s, Dr. Pollak established the grassland research program which continues today. He later became Director of Science in the Conservancy’s Oregon chapter. Since 2000, the Pollak Fund has granted over $60,000 in grasslands research funding for student scientists. Donations to the Fund can be made at any time.

2017 Request for Proposals

Application period for 2017 grants is now open:

View pdf of this RFP

The Nature Conservancy will be granting up to $8,300 for assistance to one or more students to conduct research on grasslands in California or Oregon. Preference will be given to projects explicitly focused on grasslands and relevant to TNC’s conservation efforts in California or Oregon.

Proposed projects may include, but are not restricted to, research on grassland management practices (e.g., restoration, grazing), habitat value for rare and threatened species, and community ecology. Studies conducted on TNC preserves and coordination with TNC preserve managers is desirable but not mandatory.

Requests for amounts between $4,000 and $8,300 will be considered.

Any undergraduate or graduate student needing assistance for the implementation of a grassland research project may apply. To apply - send a project prospectus that includes:

Oren Pollak

Dr. Oren Pollak

  • Title of the project
  • Your name and contact information
  • Who the project will be supervised by
  • Project Summary, including the project's proposed contribution to conservation
  • Summary of the proposed methods
  • Time table for project completion
  • Budget

The project prospectus should be no longer than 2 pages, including maps and figures and must be received by February 3, 2017. Notification of the award recipient will occur by March 15, 2017. Grant funds must be spent within 15 months of the award, and the recipient must submit a brief progress report at that time, summarizing the work completed and how the funds were spent.

Please email the proposal (include "OREN POLLAK RESEARCH GRANTS" in subject line) in Microsoft Word format to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Grants to Date

Summary of 2016 grant recipients' research

2016 Lauren Smith, Oregon State University; Investigating post-fire recovery of invertebrate-mediated ecosystem services in restored and unrestored grasslands; Study Sites: Several grassland sites in eastern Oregon, including The Nature Conservancy’s Boardman Preserve.

2016 Vincent Jansen, University of Idaho; Using remote-sensing to measure grazing effects on a native grassland ecosystem; Study Site: Zumwalt Conservation Area, Oregon.

Summary of 2015 grant recipients' research

2015 Marina LaForgia, University of California, Davis; Seed bank-mediated species diversity under a changing climate; Study site: McLaughlin Natural Reserve, Southeast of Clearlake, CA

2015 Eric Slessarev, University of California, Santa Barbara; Relating Plant Allocation Strategies and Soil Mineralogy to Predict Carbon Storage in Californian Grasslands; Study site: TNC’s Dye Creek Preserve; University of California's Sedgwick, Hastings, McLaughlin, and Blue-Oak Reserves; and University of California's Sierra Foothill and Hopland Research and Extension Centers

2015 Kristina Wolf, University of California, Davis; Restoring trophic cascades? Comparing wildlife abundance, diversity, and habitat utilization in restored and unrestored grasslands of California’s Central Valley; Study site: Four locations across the Central Valley, CA

2015 Erin Elsey, San Francisco State University; Effects of drought on early and late emerging Bombus species in restored alpine meadows in the Sierra Nevada; Study site: Perazzo Meadows, Three Cornered (part of Carmen Valley restoration), Davies Creek (part of Merrill Davies restoration) and other Sierra meadows represented in long-term data sets

2015 Kristina Gill, University of California, Santa Barbara; Using Ancient Plant Remains to Determine the Extent and Composition of Native Grassland Habitats on Santa Cruz Island Prior to Historical Impacts; Study site: 15 sites across Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands, CA

2013-14 Lauren Smith, Oregon State University, How both large-scale and small-scale grassland restoration impacts beneficial invertebrate diversity

2012 Sara Reid, University of California, Berkeley, Native Forbs, Traditional Knowledge, and Cooperative Restoration of a California Grassland

2011 Miriam Tsalyuk, University of California, Berkeley, Monitoring California’s grassland conservation easements using satellite imagery

2010 Michelle A. Ocken, California State University, Chico, Habitat requirements and seasonal phenology of the western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) in the northern Sacramento Valley, California

2009 Christina McNeal, California State University of Northridge, Germination and recruitment of Ephedra californica at the Carrizo Plain National Monument

2008 Angela J. Brandt, Oregon State University, Is the abiotic or biotic environment a greater driver of observed highly-localized extinctions of native forbs in the California grasslands?

2007 Chiho Kimoto, Oregon State University, Effects of livestock grazing and native plant diversity on the native pollinator community at northeastern Oregon's Zumwalt Prairie Preserve

2006 Kris Hulvey, University of California, Santa Cruz, Effects of native forb abundance on invasion resistance: Using a native tarweed to manage yellow starthistle in California grasslands

2005 Jennifer Hernandez, University of California, Berkeley, Restoring a keystone species to California grasslands

2004 Joan Schwan, Sonoma State University, Effects of livestock grazing on vernal pool plant communities on the Santa Rosa plain

2004 Rebecca Hufft, Universty of California, Santa Cruz, The survival, reproduction and restoration of native grasses at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

2003 Andrea S. Lueders, Oregon State University, Influences of native and non-native habitats on breeding grassland birds in northeastern Oregon

2002 Lisa Norfolk, Chico State University, Effects of different defoliation regimes on root and shoot growth of Nebraska Sedge

2002 Natasha Teutsh, University of California, Berkeley, Exploring the feedbacks between the soil mircobial community and the performance of invasive grasses in California

2001 Jan Goerrissen, University of California, Habitat associations of grassland birds in native and exotic California grasslands

2000 Valerie Eviner, University of California, Berkeley, Effects of invasive plant species on competitive interactions and ecosystem dynamics in California annual grasslands

2000 Kimberly Reever Morghan, University of California, Davis, A study of the ecology of two California native C4 grasses, Aristida ternipes and Aristida Oligantha

2000 Megan Lulow, University of California, Davis, The significance of arrival order on plant community development in California grasslands of the north Central Valley


For more information:

For more information on the Oren Pollak Research Fund contact Brynn Pewtherer.