MSU Graduate Named Fulbright Scholar

Andrew Tilker trudges through the remote jungles of Vietnam in pursuit of a saola, an elusive deer-like creature few have seen. He collects leeches to study the blood inside the parasites, searching for biological traces of the saola.

For this work, Tilker, a 2006 graduate of Midwestern State University, has been named a 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholar. He is a doctoral student at Berlin's Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, an interdisciplinary research institute focused on wildlife conservation.

A conservation biologist, Tilker is based in Hue, Vietnam, where he studies the rare and endangered animals of the Annamite Mountains. His research focuses on studying DNA surveys to determine mammal distribution in the Annamites. Through his fieldwork, foundational knowledge of species distribution will be gathered with the goal of being used to inform conservation decisions in the region. The Fulbright-U.S. State Department grant will help fund his doctoral dissertation project in Vietnam.

Tilker blogs about his adventures in the dense forests of Vietnam, of snacking on grub worms, close calls with emerald pit vipers, and encounters with forest dragons. He writes about catching glimpses on night cameras of other elusive species found only in the Annamites. He posts breathtaking photos of the snakes, frogs, spiders and other exotic wildlife that he comes across in the jungle.

Tilker graduated summa cum laude from MSU with a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Organismal. He was named Outstanding Biology Student in 2006 and was a member of Alpha Chi National College Honor Society. During his time at MSU, Tilker also received President's Distinguished Scholarships and President's Excellence Scholarships.

Tilker credits his professors for the high quality education he received as an undergraduate biology major at MSU. "While all of my professors were outstanding, I would not be where I am today without the counseling, mentoring, and encouragement of Dr. Norman Horner," Tilker said. Horner was Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics when Tilker received his bachelor's degree.

Tilker is the son of Kristopher and Paula Tilker of Wichita Falls and is a 2002 graduate of Rider High School. He received a master's from the University of Texas. Kris Tilker is the Chair of Management, Marketing, and Legal Studies in the Dillard College of Business Administration at MSU.

The Fulbright Scholarship Program was established by Congress in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange. It is named for American statesman J. William Fulbright. Candidates qualify through an open competition on the basis of academic and professional merit. The Fulbright Program in Vietnam is administered through the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.

Read Tilker's blog at saolablog.wordpress.com.