UNC Biological Education Doctoral Candidate Receives $20,000 Award  

Karina Sanchez, a Biological Education PhD candidate, was recently awarded a $20,000 American Dissertation Fellowship award from the American Association of University Women, an organization that promotes education and equity for women and girls.   

Sanchez said the award will replace the earnings she would have made as a teacher’s assistant, allowing her to focus her time on completing her dissertation, which involves  researching how noise and light pollution and landscape composition affect the bird song of American robins. According to Sanchez, a bird’s song is key in their ability to establish their own territory and attract a female, and evidence suggests that birds are changing their songs to be heard above the noise in loud urban areas. 

Karina Sanchez

As a first-generation Latina student in STEM, Sanchez plans to remain in academia and be an advocate for others.

“I really believe that offering paid undergraduate research experiences is the first step in increasing diversity in academia,” she said.

Sanchez chose to pursue her PhD in UNC’s Biological Education program because of the independence the program gives her while still being trained in pedagogy methods. 

“I feel lucky that I get to do the research that I’m really interested in, which is urban ecology/behavior, and how UNC offers the ability to do that is incredible and is the big reason why I came to UNC,” she said. 

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