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Alumni Spotlight: Palden Choying

May 1, 2018

Palden with Andrew Smith

Badingqiuying (known to us as Palden) graduated with a PhD in Biology and Society, Ecology, Economics, and Ethics of the Environment (4E) track, in spring 2016. His dissertation: “Pikas, Grasslands, and Pastoralists: Understanding the Roles of Plateau Pikas in a Coupled Social-Ecological System” was conducted under the supervision of Andrew Smith.

Palden’s background is unlike any other doctoral student who has attended ASU. He was born in 1982 in a black tent in a high (~4,000 m; 13,000 feet asl) remote valley in southern Qinghai, China. As a young boy his main chore was to watch over his family’s yaks and sheep. When he was eight years old his family abandoned their pastoralist heritage and moved 180 km to Nangchen county town, where he entered school. At that time Palden knew no Chinese nor written Tibetan. He quickly learned Chinese and became a top-performing student. There he was “discovered” by Kevin Stuart who taught him English. Kevin provided guidance to Palden leading to his Associate of Arts: English-Tibetan Language Teaching degree in 2006 from Qinghai Normal University, and his Master of Arts: Environmental Management in 2008 from Miriam College, The Philippines.

 Andrew was awarded a 5-year NSF Coupled Natural and Human Dynamics grant to continue his work on the ecology and conservation of plateau pikas in Qinghai in 2008, and Palden was admitted to the doctoral program at ASU in 2010 to be supported by this grant. Over the next several summers Palden, with his fluency in both Kham (his native tongue) and Amdo Tibetan and understanding of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau ecosystem, was a key player in the team of scientists working on the CNH project. He thrived in ASU’s graduate program and also served as a Teaching Assistant for three semesters.

Upon completion of his doctorate, Palden returned to Qinghai and now holds the rank of Associate Professor in the School of Geographic Sciences at Qinghai Normal University in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. In addition to his academic position, Palden founded and is Program Director for the Plateau Pastoral Research and Development Center, and also serves as Director for the Wild Yak Ecology and Technology Consultancy. He recently organized the “Sino-German Conference on Resource Utilization and Ecosystem Conservation” held in Xining, and the “2nd Nangchen County Conservation Forum” held in Nangchen.

Selected Publications:

Badingqiuying, R. B. Harris, and A. T. Smith. In Press. Summer habitat use of plateau pikas in response to winter livestock grazing in alpine steppe, Qinghai-Tibetan plateau.  Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research

Smith, A. T., Badinqiuying, M. C. Wilson, and B. W. Hogan. In Press. Functional-trait ecology of the plateau pika Ochotona curzoniae (Hodgson, 1858) in the Qinghai-Xizang ecosystem.  Integrative Zoology [Early on-line posting:  DOI: 10.1111/1749-4877.12300]

Badingqiuying, A. T. Smith, J. Senko, and M. U. Siladan. 2016. Plateau pika Ochotona curzoniae poisoning campaign reduces carnivore abundance in southern Qinghai, China. Mammal Research. 41:1-8. [Cover article]

Harris, R. B., W. Y. Wang, Badingqiuying, A. T. Smith, and D. J. Bedunah.  2015.  Herbivory and competition of Tibetan steppe vegetation in winter pasture: effects of livestock exclosure and plateau pika reduction. PLoS One 10(7): e0132897: DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132897

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