Mike da Luz Memorial Student Scholarship Award Winners

In October 2013, the Association for Fire Ecology lost an esteemed member of our board of directors, Mike da Luz. Mike was instrumental in the helping to strategize the financial growth and future direction of AFE. His clear and intelligent analyses and his humble wisdom will be greatly missed. In cooperation with Mike’s family, AFE created “The Mike da Luz Memorial Student Scholarship” to help fund student travel to attend AFE conferences and other educational events.  We are very grateful to the family for this opportunity to honor Mike by continuing to foster his vision of knowledge transfer and fire ecology education.  


2019 Hannah Etchells, Australia

2018  Ellen Whitman, Canada

2017  Héctor Leonardo Martínez-Torres, Mexico

2015  Esther Ekua Amfoa Amoako, Ghana

2014  Vasyl Gumeniuk, Ukraine

AFE is thrilled to have the opportunity to offer these awards to young scholars in such a way that honors the work of our friend Mike. And we’re deeply touched by the generosity of his friends and family who have contributed to this scholarship fund.  

Click here to learn about donating to this fund.

2019 Award: Hannah Etchells, The University of Western Australia

In November 2019, AFE awarded a scholarship to Hannah Etchells to assist with her travel to the 8th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress in Tucson, Arizona. 

Hannah is in the final year of a PhD at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on the ecological impacts of large-scale, catastrophic wildfire events in southwest Australia. She recently spent six months on a Fulbright Scholarship at U.C. Berkeley, researching wildfire impacts in California. Hannah is fascinated by what  could be learned by comparing and contrasting how southwest U.S. and southwest Australian ecosystems regenerate following catastrophic wildfire, and how they're presently managed. She is currently looking for opportunities for collaborative research between the two fire-prone regions, to improve conservation and management outcomes for both.

"Hannah is an extraordinarily bright, enthusiastic and hard-working student who has already proven herself to be committed to undertaking fire research that has outcomes applicable to forest management."

2018 Award: Ellen Whitman, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

In May 2018, AFE awarded a scholarship to Ellen Whitman to assist with her travel to the Fire Continuum Conference in Missoula, Montana.

Ellen is a PhD Candidate in Forest Biology and Management at the University of Alberta and a visiting scientist with the Canadian Forest Service. Her research interests include burn severity and spatial patterns of wildfire, as well ecological impacts of boreal fires to trees and understory plants. She is passionate about conducting research about forest disturbances in the extensive Canadian north and subarctic. Ellen already has a number of journal publications  and is excelling in her graduate program. She has received numerous awards, including the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, National Science and Engineering Research Council (2015-2018). At the Fire Continuum Conference, she presented research on burn severity in the NW Canadian boreal forest as part of a special session.

"Ms. Whitman is an excellent student and has great potential for a productive career in science as a researcher and teacher."

2017 Award: Héctor Leonardo Martínez-Torres, Research Institute of Ecosystems and Sustainability-National Autonomous University of Mexico, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico

In November 2017, AFE was pleased to present the Mike da Luz Scholarship to Héctor Leonardo Martínez-Torres at the 7th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress in Orlando, Florida.

Héctor is a PhD candidate in the Laboratory of Ecology of Forest Management at Research Institute of Ecosystems and Sustainability in the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His research focuses on the traditional use and management of fire by indigenous and non-indigenous rural inhabitants at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, one of the most emblematic Natural Protected Areas in Mexico. Attending the AFE Fire Congress provided an ideal forum for Héctor to learn about new research related to his interests that is occurring in other universities and countries. In addition, he was able to share results of his doctoral research through an oral presentation and a poster presentation. These presentations provided him an opportunity to discuss his results with other researchers who have different viewpoints and approaches.

2015 Award: Esther Ekua Amfoa Amoako, Dep't of Ecotourism and Environmental Management, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana

In November, 2015, AFE was pleased to present the 2nd Mike da Luz scholarship award to Ms. Amoako at the 6th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress in San Antonio, Texas, USA.  She was nominated by Dr. Adam Watts, who stated in his letter:

Ms. Amoako studies the impact of burning regimes on soil seed bank, soil nutrients, and plant species diversity in Ghana, and she has recently extended her dissertation research to include sites in Tanzania and additional work in Ghana on the fire ecology of two economically important tree species. Her work certainly is relevant to our field, and represents the kind that is needed in an area of the world where fire is not only widespread and still used in the daily lives of millions of people, but where studies of fire ecology are far less common than on other continents. Ms. Amoako therefore represents the kind of researcher I believe the da Luz Scholarship is meant to encourage.

2014 Award:  Vasyl Gumeniuk, National University of Life and Environmental Sciences, Ukraine

In May, 2014, at the Large Wildland Fires Conference in Missoula, Montana, we were honored to present the first scholarship to Vasyl Gumeniuk, a Ph.D. student from the Fire Lab at the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine. His letter of recommendation stated:

Vasyl is one of a small group of young scientists attempting to understand the relationship of wildland fire with the forest resources in Ukraine. The research that Vasyl is conducting will lay the foundation for management and protection of Ukrainian forests and will be especially helpful in future mitigation efforts for forests impacted by the Chernobyl nuclear event. Attendance at the Missoula conference will give Vasyl a great opportunity to connect with scientists conducting wildland fire research. This opportunity is especially important for both Vasyl and Ukraine as the country reexamines its natural resource policies and practices.  Vasyl has since published a paper about his research and his experience coming to the US and winning this award.  

You can view his paper here (in Ukranian).  

Photo: Vasyl and AFE Board Member Leda Kobziar

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software