National Grant for East Hampton Graduate

Amy Van Scoyoc, the daughter of Peter Van Scoyoc, the East Hampton Town supervisor, and Marilyn Van Scoyoc, a retired band director at East Hampton High School, was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to further her research into the effects of land use and development on Lyme disease. 

She will receive three years of financial support with a $34,000 annual stipend and a yearly $12,000 cost-of-education allowance that will be awarded to the University of California, Berkeley, where she is a Ph.D. student at the Brashares Laboratory of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. 

According to the National Science Foundation’s website, the financial award is granted “for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM field.”

Ms. Van Scoyoc graduated from East Hampton High School in 2009 as the class valedictorian and attended Dartmouth College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in ecology. She then worked in the environmental nonprofit sector for about five years before returning to academia last year, joining the five-to-six-year doctoral program at Berkeley.

“I guess my family has always had close ties to our community, and my research interests have developed out of the issues our town grapples with and the interconnectedness of human and ecological systems,” she said of the research the fellowship grant will allow her to conduct over the next three years.

“I am proposing to quantify tick success and Lyme prevalence by looking at fine-scale host animal movement and interaction with fences, buildings, and other infrastructure,” she wrote in an email to The Star. “Basically, areas with infrastructure that concentrates host movement could be increasing local tick success, increasing Lyme prevalence; conversely, infrastructure could be lowering tick density due to increased animal transport of ticks out of constricted areas and depositing them into resting regions.”

Deepening this knowledge of how infrastructure influences the movement of animals that are tick hosts and the subsequent spread of disease will help scientists anticipate the effects of changing land use on Lyme disease dynamics and, in turn, how that affects people, she said.

Ms. Van Scoyoc was one of 2,000 awardees of this year’s fellowship, selected from more than 12,000 applicants from across the United States and its territories.