Seneca Award

We have established a special travel award in honor of Dr. Ernest Davis Seneca (1937-2015), who was our major advisor in the Botany Department at North Carolina State University from 1973 to 1977. Dr. Seneca taught plant ecology courses and conducted research on the ecology and restoration of coastal dunes and salt marshes. He had a strong influence on his students, several of whom went on to long careers in science. His love of nature and devotion to student training made a lasting impression on us. We’ve tried to follow in Dr. Seneca’s footsteps, in part by creating this foundation to support students of wetland science and by establishing an award in his name.

Irv: “It’s funny how many of the experiences one has in graduate school seem like they happened yesterday. They are somehow indelibly stamped into our minds – great friends, great mentors. Ernie qualified as both. Although his enthusiasm for botany and coastal ecology, as well as his honesty and integrity, may be his most tangible gifts to me, I also remember how his actions demonstrated that, no matter our age or capabilities, we all can grow and learn from our mistakes. I certainly made plenty of errors in judgment during my graduate program. Ernie never belittled me, but always expressed that each mistake provides a learning experience by which we can grow. This simple truth has been central to accomplishing my goals in education, research, and life in general. I owe Ernie much for this and so much more, and I anticipate that the Seneca Award will allow other students to pursue their goals.”

Karen: “I particularly remember all the road trips we took to conduct fieldwork, as part of class field trips and to scientific conferences. We often drove long distances to the mountains or to the coast, and Ernie would “botanize” the entire way. He would spot a plant along the roadside and pull over long enough for one of us graduate students to run and grab the specimen for inspection. Irv and I have carried on this tradition for the past forty years—spending a lot of our vacation time identifying plants in the area we happen to be visiting. I also remember how Ernie’s class field trips were run like a military operation, with students assigned to specific tasks during meal preparation or setting up the campsite. Although I did not realize it at the time, this experience prepared me for organizing and executing my own field expeditions to conduct research in remote locations where detailed planning was essential to success.”

How to Apply

Any student whose research topic is wetland plant ecology/restoration will be eligible for the Seneca Award. The applicant will qualify either for a Conference Travel Grant Type 2 or a Field Travel Grant Type 1. In addition to meeting the four general criteria for travel awards (interest, intent, aptitude, and need), the successful applicant will conduct research on some aspect of wetland plant ecology or restoration.