Student researcher Hostetler '13 named O’Connor HERO Fellow

November 1, 2012

Clark University senior Andrew E. Hostetler is among a select group of student researchers who are members of the national Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) program based at Clark. On Oct. 16, Hostetler received the added honor of being named the 2012 O'Connor HERO Fellow.

The O'Connor HERO Fellowship is named for the late Clark University Trustee John O'Connor (Class of '78) who was a prominent Massachusetts environmentalist and community activist.

The eight-week HERO research curriculum at Clark is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site (REU Site) program. HERO Fellows – each paired with a Clark faculty mentor and other researchers on the HERO team – analyze the causes and consequences of global environmental changes at local scales.

This past summer, Hostetler and other HERO Fellows engaged in a new research program titled, "REU Site: Mapping Beetles, Trees, Neighborhoods, and Policies: A Multi-Scaled, Urban Ecological Assessment of the Asian Longhorned Beetle Invasion in New England." A three-year $329,992 NSF grant supports the study, which gathers and analyzes data on the ALB, an invasive species that has devastated hundreds of acres of trees across New England.

Hostetler worked on measuring changes in tree cover composition and evaluating existing and future impacts of ALBs on forest diversity. His group mapped the tree canopy loss to the Asian longhorned beetle in the USDA quarantine zone for Worcester County. In addition to identifying causes of tree canopy loss, Hostetler and his team investigated the impact of this loss on land surface temperatures using satellite imagery.

"This was a very eye-opening experience, as it introduced me to a 9-to-5 working life and revealed what goes on behind the scenes of real scientific research," Hostetler writes. "It was also a valuable learning experience, helping me to expand my knowledge of the topic, ecosystem services in particular, and enhancing my understanding of remote sensing and GIS applications."

After graduation in May 2013, Hostetler intends to enroll in Clark's accelerated master's degree program in geographic information science (GIS) and continue the research he began as a HERO Fellow.

"I believe the real-world experiences such as the HERO program that Clark provides for undergrads and the extremely supportive and encouraging faculty are invaluable assets to help students make the best of their undergraduate and prepare for life after undergraduate, where ever that may lead them. This is certainly true for me," Hostetler adds.

Hostetler, a senior, majors in Geography. He is a member of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geographic Honor Society at Clark, as well as a Gryphon and Pleiades Senior Honor Society member.Gryphon and Pleiades emphasizes leadership and extraordinary academic achievement.

One major extra-curricular pursuit for Hostetler is competitive obstacle course racing (Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, etc.) and ultra distance running. "I can say for certain that the discipline that I've developed in my undergraduate career thus far has helped me prepare for and endure these events," he said. "My training and racing have also taught me focus and discipline that have carried over into my studies."

In 2009, Hostetler graduated from the International School of Bangkok, an international high school in Thailand.

"Undergraduate research is an important aspect of education at Clark," said University Provost Davis Baird. "This HERO project is an example of the Clark effort to engage liberal education with what we call effective practice — really putting research to work in the academic setting and in the community."

The HERO program has received competitive funding from various prestigious sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Marine Fisheries Service, Thoreau Foundation, and O'Connor '78 Fund. The research conducted by HERO Fellows has often resulted in scholarly publications, presentations at scientific conferences and professional settings across the United States, and awards and honors.

HERO Fellows receive a generous stipend for eight weeks of full-time research, plus an allowance for room and board.

Learn more about the HERO research program at Clark.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.