USD Ph.D. student Erica Mize is named Wildlife Student of the Year

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The South Dakota chapter of The Wildlife Society has named Erica Mize, a University of South Dakota student, its Outstanding Ph.D. Wildlife Student of the Year.

Mize, a student in Dr. Hugh Britten’s lab, has been a member of The Wildlife Society since 2005, and became a member of the South Dakota Chapter in 2009.

“It’s nice to be recognized by The Wildlife Society even though my Ph.D. will be in biology, not fisheries and wildlife,” said Mize, who is from Sterling Heights, Mich.

Mize earned her Bachelor of Sciences and Master of Science degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University. She is now working toward a Ph.D. in Biology at USD. She said Britten’s research was a key reason she chose to attend USD. Britten is a professor of biology.

“The research that has been going on here in Dr. Britten’s lab, in part, has changed the way we view plague ecology,” added Mize.

Mize was nominated for the award by Britten. In his lab, Mize is researching sylvatic plague affecting five national parks. Sylvatic plague has serious conservation implications for animals such as the federally endangered black-footed ferret and black-tailed prairie dogs. Britten considers Mize an expert at ectoparasite identification, and said she has helped people identify them across the country. Mize plans to continue her research, hoping to learn more about zoonotic diseases and develop new ways to conserve wildlife.

She will be presented with her award and a $250 scholarship on Feb. 24 at the annual meeting of the South Dakota chapter of The Wildlife Society. Mize will also be presenting part of her dissertation research at the meeting.

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 206 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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