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CNR Professor Lisette Waits Recognized for International Research Contributions

October 19, 2017

University of Idaho Distinguished Professor Lisette Waits was awarded the Jean'ne M. Shreeve NSF EPSCoR Research Excellence Award this fall for her internationally recognized research in molecular ecology.

Idaho’s National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, known as Idaho EPSCoR, selects researchers from UI, Boise State University or Idaho State University each year to receive the prestigious award, which is named for longtime U of I chemist and former Idaho EPSCoR Director Jean’ne Shreeve.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to receive an award named for Dr. Shreeve, who is an amazing role model and trailblazer for female scientists,” Waits said. “I am also very thankful for the EPSCoR funding I have received that really helped launch my career as a new faculty member. I am very appreciative of the individuals who nominated me and provided support letters."

Waits is the head of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences in the College of Natural Resources and leader of the Fishery Resources and Wildlife Resources programs. Her research focusing on conservation genetics and molecular ecology spans four continents, and includes collaborators from North America, Europe, Asia, and Central and South America. 

“The volume and caliber of Lisette’s research during her career is impressive,” said Kurt S. Pregitzer, dean of the College of Natural Resources. “Her research has had a major impact on changing the understanding of conservation genetics and population biology of many wild species. I’m very happy to see her hard work recognized.” 

Waits’ lab focuses on developing and implementing molecular genetic methods for monitoring wildlife populations. Among her recent projects include an effort to develop noninvasive ways to monitor the distribution, population size, and genetics of reintroduced populations of animals, such as gray wolves in Idaho and the endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits in Washington.

 Waits has also served as a co-principal investigator on international grants through the NSF and led student and faculty research trips to Costa Rica and Ecuador to study biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. She has published more than 195 papers and recently co-edited a book on landscape genetics, the first book in the new discipline.

 “Lisette exemplifies the type of scientific achievement that we want to celebrate with the Jean’ne M. Shreeve Award including her commitment to excellence in STEM research and education through the EPSCoR ideals,” said Janet Nelson, vice president for Research and Economic Development at U of I and interim director of EPSCoR. “She is a well-respected, dedicated leader in her field around the globe, and we are proud to support her work.”

Waits has a doctorate in genetics from the University of Utah and a bachelor’s in genetics from the University of Georgia. She joined the faculty at U of I in 1997.

Media Contacts: 

Savannah Tranchell
University Communications & Marketing


Max Bartlett
Idaho NSF EPSCoR Communications 


Lisette Waits

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at