Since 1989, BCI has given over $1.4 million in awards through the Student Scholars program.

03.06.24
Dr. Winifred Frick

Austin, Texas (March 6, 2024) – Bat Conservation International (BCI) announces its 2024 Student Scholars —16 graduate students ready to advance global bat conservation with their innovative studies in several countries across Africa, Asia, North and South America. Their research will deepen our understanding of bat ecology and conservation, crucial for maintaining global ecosystem health. BCI’s scholarship program not only bolsters these scholars’ research skills but also reinforces evidence-based conservation efforts worldwide.

More than 1,450 bat species inhabit the Earth, serving as vital partners in ecosystem health. They eat insects, pollinate a wide array of plants, and disperse seeds in tropical forests, helping to sustain healthy global ecosystems. However, bats are facing unprecedented threats to their survival. Today, more than 200 species of bats are considered threatened.

The scholars will be conducting research in Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, and Peru. BCI encourages recipients to share their findings about bat ecology with local communities, supports students with targeted research while emphasizing the need for evidence-based conservation, and boosts students in countries where critical information to support conservation is limited.

“BCI’s Student Research Scholarship program plays an important role in bat conservation because it supports the next generation of bat conservation researchers globally,” says Dr. Amanda Adams, BCI’s Director of Research Coordination. “Funding for bat-related research is limited, especially research focused on providing conservation evidence and implementing equitable practices. Not only are we funding important research, but we are also supporting the career development of early-career conservationists through professional development and networking opportunities. Each cohort of student scholars grows BCI’s network of collaborators and builds a global community of bat researchers.”

Through the Student Scholarship program, BCI provides financial support and professional development to graduate students to help further their educational and career goals.

Since it began in the 1980s, BCI’s Student Scholar program has supported 379 scholars and provided $1.4 million in funding. Recipients have contributed to vital bat research in 77 countries, and this year the program adds a new project country, Morocco. The program’s objectives include increasing the research capacity and efforts for bat conservation worldwide, improving scientific knowledge to aid conservation of threatened and data-deficient bat species, and contributing evidence for conservation interventions to protect bats.

Students apply for the Student Scholarship program each fall, submitting proposals that address a number of conservation challenges, including understanding how human-caused environmental changes impact bats, resolving human-bat conflicts, and developing evidence to inform conservation of imperiled bat species around the world. In addition to the scholarship application, scholars are considered for various honors and awards based on their excellence in bat conservation research. Some of these awards recognize equitable research, innovative research, representation of women in science, and the importance of evidence-based research.

A few of this year’s projects include: Angélica Yantén’s research on the ecological and human dimension of bat conservation in Amazonian savannas in Brazil; Omar Machich’s look at the effects of waste incineration on the global health of Moroccan bats, and Mahalakshmi Chelladurai’s work to conserve the endangered Hipposideros pomona with community participation in the Western Ghats, India.

Special Recognition:

  • Pablo Aycart Lazo received the 2024 Thomas H. Kunz Innovation in Bat Research Honor.
  • Aicha Gomeh-Djame received the Women in Science Award and Conservation Evidence Special Recognition.
  • Basanta Sharma was honored with the Verne & Marion Read Bat Conservation Honor.
  • Amanda Vilchez received the Equitable Conservation Award and Conservation Evidence Special Recognition.
  • Additionally, these scholars also received Conservation Evidence Special Recognition: Nithin Divakar, Consolata Gitau, Patrick Randrianandrasana, and Angélica Yantén.

2024 BCI Student Scholars:

Project Country: Argentina

Jose Luis Ladino Moreno: Insectivorous bat assemblages (Mammalia: Chiroptera) from Chaco, Argentina, and their relationships with extensive livestock farming

Project Country: Brazil

Angélica Yantén: Ecological and human dimension of bat conservation in Amazonian savannas

Conservation Evidence Special Recognition

Project Country: Cameroon

Aicha Gomeh-Djame: Assessing the ‘road-effect’ on bat diversity, abundance, and functional guilds in Northwestern Congolian Lowland

Women in Science Award & Conservation Evidence Special Recognition

Project Country: Cameroon

Franck Patherson Meyo Okono: Effects of habitat disturbances on bat communities (Mammalia: Chiroptera) in and around the Campo-Ma’an National Park.

Project Country: India

Mahalakshmi Chelladurai: Conserving cave-dwelling endangered Hipposideros pomona with community participation in the Western Ghats, India

Nithin Divakar: Developing long-term bat conservation strategies in a Nipah virus-affected Indian state through a participatory approach

Conservation Evidence Special Recognition

Project Country: Jamaica

Phillip Oelbaum: Foraging and roosting ecology of Phyllonycteris aphylla in Jamaica

Project Country: Kenya

Millicent Bungei: Prioritizing Underground Roosts for Bats of Kenya

Project Country: Kenya

Consolata Gitau: Monitoring land degradation and ecosystem restoration using bats as bioindicators, in Northern Maasai Mara, Kenya

Conservation Evidence Special Recognition

Project Country: Madagascar

Patrick Randrianandrasana: Human-bat conflicts and population dynamics of cave bats in the coastal zone of southwestern Madagascar

Conservation Evidence Special Recognition

Project Country: Madagascar

Abby Rutrough: Can We Predict Bat Hunting Across Large Spatial Scales: Validating Spatial Structural Equation Models

Project Country: Mexico

Carlos Alberto Barrera: Ignoring cryptic diversity is affecting conservation opportunities? Reevaluating the case of Bauerus dubiaquercus

Project Country: Morocco

Omar Machich: A dive into the forgotten bats of Morocco: ecoimmunological and ecotoxicological investigation

Project Country: Nepal

Basanta Sharma: Tracing roots of the Himalayan bats: discovery, description, and conservation in Nepal

Verne & Marion Read Bat Conservation Honor

Project Country: Peru

Pablo Aycart Lazo: Local and landscape effects on bat diet and pest control in Amazonian cacao agroforestry systems

Thomas H. Kunz Innovation in Bat Research Honor

Project Country: Peru

Amanda Vilchez: Let’s talk about bats: Citizen science for bat conservation in Peruvian rural areas

Equitable Conservation Award & Conservation Evidence Special Recognition

To learn more about the BCI Student Scholars program, visit batcon.org/scholars.

Founded in 1982, Bat Conservation International is a global conservation organization dedicated to ending bat extinctions. Bat Conservation International works worldwide to conserve caves, restore critical habitats in danger, and ensure the survival of the world’s bat species. For more information, visit batcon.org.   

Media Contact: Kathryn Slater  

Tel: 512.327.9721 Ext. 463  

Email: kslater@batcon.org