Gregory Russo (FCRH 2011) knew from an early age that he wanted to work in the environmental sciences. As the son of an ecologist (and Fordham alumnus), the Brewster, New York native already had exposure to the world of plant and animal conservation through his father’s work. So while initially a biology major, when Fordham started the environmental science major in 2009, Greg was the first on board.
“Because of the extensive field research I’ve been able to do through Fordham’s Environmental Science Program, I’ve built a very impressive undergraduate resume.”
Early in his time at Fordham, Greg got involved in local ecological efforts. As a volunteer with the New York Botanical Garden’s Citizen Science program, Greg spent his sophomore year monitoring the seasonal cycles of plants at the Garden. Later, he became involved in their horticulture department’s efforts to monitor and control the spread of an invasive beetle species, the Viburnum Leaf Beetle. He also worked in his hometown with a NYBG staff botanist to collect and photograph various plant species at the Ice Pond Preserve for a comprehensive online index.
“I found myself trekking through the jungles of Panama in the dark before dawn…”
In his junior year, he started work with Fordham Professor J. Alan Clark, cataloguing the songs of the Stripe-breasted Wren for a study on song form and function. Then, as a member of the Calder Summer Undergraduate Research Program, he found himself spending a month in Panama, recording songs of the Stripe-throated Wren, a closely related but previously unstudied species.
“…and working close to home.”
In the same summer, he spent a month in Westchester County at Fordham University’s Calder Center studying Eastern Wood-pewees. Greg’s study sought to determine the communication function of one of the songs in this bird’s split-song repertoire.
His latest research continues his work on the Eastern Wood-pewee, examining the seasonal changes in song ratios to gain a better understanding of each song’s function in Pewee communication.
With graduate school on the horizon, Greg continues to build his resume with presentations at the New York State Ornithological Association as well as at Fordham’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. He also has plans for publishing a paper detailing his work with the Eastern Wood-pewees.
“I just want to be outside in the environment, studying it, protecting it, and fixing it where it needs to be fixed.”