Rahel Sollmann, an assistant professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, is a 2020 recipient of a Hellman Fellowship. She is the only CA&ES faculty member this year to receive the honor.
The Hellman Fellows Fund provides support and encouragement for the research of promising assistant professors who exhibit potential for great distinction in their research. The fellowship is intended to support research and creative activities that will promote career advancement and progress toward tenure. Research by Hellman Fellows covers a wide range of academic disciplines on a variety of important issues in society.
The distinguishing feature of Sollmann’s work is her focus on quantitative ecology. “We develop and apply statistical models to study the ecology and conservation of wildlife populations and communities,” she said. “This is crucial to inform wildlife management and conservation.”
Surveying wildlife is fraught with challenges, such as difficult terrain and uncooperative study subjects that can make for sparse data and biased sampling. Models help separate information about the ecological patterns and processes of interest from the sampling process, she said, and statistical modeling is “the tool of choice for that task.”
Much of the research in her Wildlife Ecology Lab at UC Davis has focused on the Sierra Nevada and the effects of large, high-severity wildfires and fuel-reduction treatments on wildlife and ecological networks. Another research interest includes the effects of deforestation and selective logging on mammal communities in Southeast Asia and South America.
Hellman Fellows are asked at a later date to make presentations about their research and the impact the award has made on their research progress. The program, which began in 1994, serves all 10 UC campuses, three private universities, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Each institution makes its own selections. Learn more about all of the Hellman Fellows here.