CFAES Give Today
Academic Programs

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Grace R. Gutierrez

Grace R. Gutierrez Grace R. Gutierrez

School of Environment and Natural Resources 
Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife - Honors - Research in Forest Ecosystem Science and Restoration
Columbus, OH 

2023 Distinguished Senior Award Recognition Reception Program (.pdf) 

2023 Distinguished Senior Award Recipient Reception Poster (.pdf) 

Throughout her undergraduate career, Grace Gutierrez has distinguished herself for her ability not only to plan and execute original research, but to communicate and share her research with a wide array of audiences. From presenting at the annual Ecological Society of America conference in Montreal last year, to virtual presentations for the Midwest-Great Lakes Society for Ecological Restoration, Grace has proven herself not only a scholar but a maker of meaning in the field of ecology. She relishes the opportunity to share her research methods, results, and the concepts behind them with fellow Buckeyes who are always curious why her clothes are covered in dirt each week. Finding a diverse scholarly community that shares her passion for learning and the environment has been Grace’s most rewarding undergraduate experience. Her research has led Grace to study topics including the facilitation of riparian forest restoration in urban sites, quantifying the effects of forest invaders on a native ephemeral, and the conditions that protect tree seedlings from mammalian herbivory. Her honors thesis investigates 
competitive and facilitative interactions between native and invasive forest plants. 

Grace credits her first trip to Alum Creek State Park with the Society for Ecological Restoration at OSU with sparking her love for field-based research experiences. Grace reflected, “After asking a million questions, I felt such wonder and childlike joy to ‘meet’ and recognize all of the important fellow members of our ecosystems that I walk amongst each day on campus yet had overlooked.” She would go on to become a project manager and treasurer for the organization.

An internship with the USDA Forest Service in Delaware, OH taught Grace new plant propagation techniques and helped her cultivate professional connections for her budding career as a plant ecologist. She was inspired to learn about and contribute to the Forest Service’s diverse and extensive body of work in service of ecosystem health. 

Grace would like to recognize Dr. Steve Hovick as her primary mentor, sharing, “Steve is always enthusiastic about exploring ideas and interpreting findings. Even after long weeks in the field or wading through the sea of data analysis, I always walk out of his office smiling and excited to continue our research. As a professor, Steve has a busy schedule, and yet he always takes time for us to meet, give feedback, and answer questions in detail. It is with deep gratitude that I think of the guidance, freedom, and resources Steve has provided to help develop my independent ideas.”

Upon graduating, Grace plans to pursue graduate degrees, with a research focus on plant evolutionary, community, and restoration ecology. After completing her terminal degree, she plans to pursue professional roles that will allow her to manage ecological restoration projects while continuing her research.

Service, involvement, and accolades: Society for Ecological Restoration at OSU, project manager, treasurer | Environment and Natural Resources Scholars, leadership council | Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, project lead |City of Columbus Greenspot Program, project co-lead | Newcomb Scholar | SENR Lee Johnston Award

 Grace Gutierrez - Press Release