Todd Crail, a University of Toledo graduate student who expects to earn a doctorate in ecology in 2011, is to be recognized this week as the first Robert Brundage scholarship winner.
The $500 award was created by the nonprofit Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association in recognition of the late Mr. Brundage's passion for nature. A longtime community activist, musician, and educator, Mr. Brundage died of a head injury after being pushed off his bicycle last summer during a robbery.
The presentation to Mr. Crail is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at UT's Lake Erie Center on Bayshore Road in Oregon. The Brundage scholarship is to be awarded annually to a graduate student researching Great Lakes issues from the Lake Erie Center, which lies along the shoreline and is adjacent to the northwest corner of Maumee Bay State Park.
"I like to connect people to nature," said Mr. Crail, a 1991 graduate of Toledo Christian High School and 1995 graduate of Bluffton University. "People get very intimidated when they walk out to nature because there's a lot to see, a lot to pull out of the noise."
A Toledo native who especially likes working with children, Mr. Crail said he would jump at the opportunity to stay in the area.
He said he wants a career in which he can assist K-12 teachers. He said he has done that, primarily at Scott High School, through a National Science Foundation fellowship. "That has been a phe-nomenal experience for me," he said.
Mr. Brundage was a Scott High graduate.
Mr. Crail's expertise is with darters. North America has about 150 species of them, making them one of the continent's most common types of small fish, although certain species are endangered and found in only one or two streams.
Mr. Crail said his work has been largely in the Ohio River watershed, but he has studied darters in the Maumee River watershed.
Sandy Bihn, founder and executive director of the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association, said, "Todd is a great example of Dr. Brundage's commitment to community and the environment and what the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper program is all about."
Carol Stepien, director of UT's Lake Erie Center, called Mr. Crail "an excellent scientist who is very committed to understanding our environmental problems in the western Lake Erie basin."
Before attending UT, Mr. Crail worked about a decade as a computer technician, and he owned a tropical fish and aquarium store for two years.
He is the founding member and president of the Toledo chapter of Wild Ones, a national group that advocates a greater use of native plants for landscaping.
Mr. Brundage grew up in Toledo and was a UT graduate. He received a doctorate in biophysics from Brandeis University.
He was employed as a research scientist and engineer, and he owned a sound-recording company in Massachusetts before returning to Toledo in 1997. He was involved in more than 20 community groups.
Dai'Lahntae Jemison, 16, admitted last fall in Lucas County Juvenile Court that he was responsible for the robbery and assault that led to Mr. Brundage's death.
Judge Connie Zemmelman found the youth delinquent of murder and aggravated robbery and sentenced him Sept. 29 to remain in the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services until age 21.
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