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GCA Scholarships Recipients

 

2021 Evelyn Jane Abraham

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany
School: The Pennsylvania State University

Biochemometrics for Unraveling Medicinal Plant Synergy: Techniques for Evaluating Basil Antibacterial Activity 

Abraham’s primary focus is biochemometrics, a natural products approach combining analytical chemistry, bacterial assays, and multivariate statistics to identify novel compounds with medicinal properties. Currently, she is applying biochemometrics to Ocimum basilicum (basil) to discover compounds in leaves that potentiate basil’s essential oil bioactivity against Staphylococcus aureus. As a common culinary herb with well documented essential oil chemistry, basil is readily available and serves as a valuable resource for herbal medicinal research.



2021 Elizabeth Green

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany
School: PhD candidate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Social Network Analysis of Hemp Farming Communities in Appalachia.

Green uses field observation, experiments, and mathematical modeling to test ecological and ethnoecological hypotheses in agricultural settings. Her research focuses on gaining a mechanistic understanding of how local ecological knowledge-sharing within social networks of farmers can help to optimize secondary metabolite concentrations in hemp. Growing hemp in the Appalachian region of the United States has only recently been legalized, with farmers consequently acting largely as their own research advocates. Green’s research will serve to facilitate more equitable farmer access to advanced management support, working to better farmer success.

 


2021 Hayley Prescott

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany
School: PhD candidate in Pharmacognosy, Department of BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi

Botanical Aphrodisiacs for Women's Health

A trained herbalist, Prescott is investigating botanical species traditionally used as female aphrodisiacs, hoping to lead to better treatment options for Female Sexual Dysfunctions. In particular, she is seeking specialized metabolites of species which activate a receptor known to increase arousal and desire. Optimistic about the future of botanical medicine, she intends to elucidate the pharmacological mechanism of ethnobotanical aphrodisiacs.

 


2021 Cecelia Naomi Dailey

The Garden Club of America Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Master’s Student, Biology, The Citadel

Vascular Flora of Two Conserved Tracts on the Black River, South Carolina

At two sites owned by the Butler Conservation Fund, on the Black River near the town of Andrews in rural South Carolina, Dailey has conducted baseline surveys and produced species checklists and essays on ecology available to the public. She is preparing her botanical studies for publication, including two surveys of vascular flora and notable collections of threatened plants. Over the summer, she will make new collections of additional species, and review over 800 specimens at The Citadel Herbarium.

 


2021 Emma Rose Fryer

The Garden Club of America Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Master’s Student, Biological Sciences, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Modeling the Community Assembly of the Vertic Clay Endemic Annual Plant Species of the San Joaquin Desert

Fryer is studying a suite of annual wildflowers from California’s San Joaquin Desert and their adaptations to extremely harsh, high in clay (“vertic”), sodic soils. The group of annuals she is working with are endemic

to these vertic clay soils; about half her study species are rare and found only in a small area within the San Joaquin Desert. She will use a combination of field and greenhouse studies to determine the nature of this novel form of edaphic (soil) endemism and how the combination of soil chemistry, texture, and competition from an invasive annual grass shape the community, causing the vibrant, patchwork-like patterns of color these species create during the San Joaquin Desert’s famed superblooms.

 


2021 Sylvi Oh

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Master’s Student, Plant Biology, Ohio University

Bird-mediated Seed Dispersal of Forest Herbs in a Temperate Deciduous Forest

Oh studies the seed dispersal of herbaceous plants in post-agricultural, temperate deciduous forests to understand the population dynamics of forest herbs. Forest herbs are limited by dispersal since they largely lack seed banks, but these dispersal networks are understudied and under threat due to human land use. Since birds are likely dispersers of forest herbs in these systems,  she is studying the interactions between native forest herbs and migratory birds passing through southeast Ohio.

 


2021 Ryan James Schmidt

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Undergraduate, Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources Program, Rutgers University

Rediscovering the “Weeds” of New Jersey: Understanding the Distribution of Weedy and Nonnative Species in New Jersey through Specimen Collection

In his research, Schmidt aims to gain insights into the current and past distributions of the “weedy” and non-native plants of New Jersey through the use of recent and historical herbarium records. He will collect new herbarium specimens of many of these under-collected species, present throughout the state of New Jersey along the urban-to-rural gradient, in order to better understand the current impact of these plants and how their distribution has changed over time.

 


2021 Laymon Ball

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Tropical Botany
School: PhD candidate in Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University

Mutualisms, Mountains, and Machine Learning: Disentangling Drivers of Evolution in a Florally Diverse Neotropical Plant Clade, Hillieae (Rubiaceae)

Ball will use a combination of fieldwork, machine learning, and phylogenetic comparative methods to disentangle abiotic and biotic drivers of evolution in an understudied group of Neotropical flowering epiphytes, Hillieae (Rubiaceae). While it is a relatively small group of only 29 species, Hillieae displays incredible floral diversity. Species fall into three pollination syndromes: bat, hawk moth, and hummingbird. As part of her research, Laymon will travel to Monteverde, Costa Rica, the region with the greatest Hillieae species richness, to confirm pollinators, study plant-pollinator interactions, collect floral trait data, and collect herbarium specimens.

 



2021 Nora Gavin-Smyth

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Tropical Botany
School: Phd candidate in Plant Biology & Conservation, Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden

The Diversity and Evolution of Impatiens in the Eastern Arc Mountains

Gavin-Smyth uses field botany, herbarium research, and genomics to explore the phylogeography of Impatiens in Tanzania's Eastern Arc Mountains. Her research investigates the processes underlying the current diversity and distribution of the 40+ Impatiens species found only in the Eastern Arc to understand their evolution and conservation outlook. Using phylogenetics and population genetics together, she traces the origins of Eastern Arc Impatiens, adding one of the only studies of plants to the discussion on evolution of the Eastern Arc's biodiversity.

 


2021 Anna E. Nordseth Elizabeth Nordseth

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Tropical Botany
School: PhD candidate in Ecology, Duke University

Regrowing an Endangered Forest: Dispersal and Recruitment Success of Four Primate-Dispersed Trees in a Fragmented Landscape

Nordseth’s research investigates the plant-animal interactions needed to maintain tree diversity and ecosystem function in tropical forests. She is examining primate seed dispersal in the fragmented forests of Panama's Azuero Peninsula, and will evaluate primate foraging and feeding behavior to understand how primate-dispersed seeds move across the landscape. This research will help inform ongoing forest restoration efforts in the region by finding ways to facilitate primate seed dispersal. Nordseth also aims to take a holistic approach to conservation by involving local communities in research, engaging in outreach, and writing about science for lay audiences.

 


 

Scholarship Opportunities Abound

The Garden Club of America offers 28 merit-based scholarships and fellowships in 12 areas related to conservation, ecology, horticulture, and pollinator research. In 2021, over $300,000 were awarded to 61 scholars. Follow GCA Scholarships on Twitter for the latest news about pollinators, coastal wetlands, native bird habitats, and much more. Connect to a larger world of horticulture and conservation through the Garden Club of America scholars. Learn more about the GCA Scholarships. Browse the scholarship offerings.