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GCA Scholarships Recipients


2019 Betsabé Castro Escobar

The Garden Club of America Awards in Tropical Botany

Betsabé Castro Escobar is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Integrative Biology Program at the University of California, Berkeley. She studies the interactions of humans with culturally signi cant plants in the Caribbean, working currently with a group of plants called the calabash trees in the Tropical Americas. Escobar researches through the lens of ethnobotany, ecology, and evolution, tracing responses of plant- human interface including dispersal, domestication, and documenting the versatility of uses. She is passionate about preserving traditional plant knowledge and is fascinated with how humans have stimulated evolutionary responses in plants. She is an NSF Graduate Fellow, a UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Diversity Fellow, and Botany in Action Fellow.

2019 Carly Anderson Stewart

The Garden Club of America Awards in Tropical Botany

Carly Anderson Stewart is a PhD candidate studying fungal evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is currently studying the biodiversity and biogeography of lichens, speci cally the large, cosmopolitan lichen genus Cladonia (Cladoniaceae, lichenized Ascomycota). Her work explores triggers of diversi cation in the Cladonia tree of life asking which characteristics are associated with increases or decreases in diversi cation. Better understanding shifts in diversi cation rates would constitute an important step forward in fungal evolutionary biology. Stewart is also interested in large-scale lichen biogeography. Currently, she is working on using phylogenetic trees in combination with geographical data (spatial phylogenetics) to and areas of high diversity or high endemism. Pinpointing areas of high fungal diversity is important to precise protection of species and better informing conservation authorities.

2019 Carrie Tribble

The Garden Club of America Awards in Tropical Botany

Carrie Tribble is a PhD candidate in the Integrative Biology Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the evolution of underground parts of plants and on the systematics and diversi cation of tropical plants, such as the charismatic members of the genus Bomarea. She is particularly interested in B. edulis, a pre-Columbian plant known for its edible and medicinal root tubers. Tribble hopes to integrate statistical phylogenetic models and ethnobotanical knowledge to better understand the drivers of evolution in this unique plant.

2019 Mary Schoell

The Garden Club of America Award in Coastal Wetlands Studies

Mary Schoell is a master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her thesis explores how salt marshes migrate inland to higher elevations as a response to sea-level rise and storm events. Her focus is on the coastal forests along Long Island Sound in Connecticut. Due to their resilient nature, forested uplands can slow the process of marsh migration. Using dendrochronology and  ood frequency data, Schoell aims to reconstruct the time line of tree stress and death in marsh-bordering forests to understand when and how sea level rise and storm disturbances facilitate marsh migration.

Funded by New Jersey Committee of The Garden Club of America, Zone IV

2019 Ann Holmes

The Garden Club of America Award in Coastal Wetlands Studies

Ann Holmes is a PhD candidate in ecology at the University of California, Davis. Her research in wetlands uses a noninvasive method called environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling. eDNA is trace genetic material left by  sh and aquatic organisms in water. eDNA sampling is a promising new method for surveying biodiversity and detecting endangered or invasive species. She will sample Suisun Marsh, the largest wetland in the San Francisco Estuary, using eDNA and compare results with traditional sampling. The goal of this project is to develop eDNA as a reliable and effective survey method that can inform wetland conservation and management.

2019 David De La Mater III

The Garden Club of America Award in Coastal Wetlands Studies

David De La Mater is a PhD student in The University Program in Ecology at Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. He will be conducting manipulative-warming and nutrient-addition experiments in the marshes of coastal North Carolina to address how rising temperatures and eutrophication (excessive richness of nutrients in water) interact to affect herbivory and traits of cordgrass in salt marshes.

2019 Sam Bickley

The Garden Club of America Award in Coastal Wetlands Studies

Sam Bickley, a PhD candidate at Auburn University, will be assessing the impacts of urbanization on coastal streams and fringing salt marsh along the northern Gulf of Mexico. Coastal streams draining developed watersheds experience increased frequency and magnitude of salinity change due to increased freshwater runoff, but the impact on ecosystem structure and function of this altered salinity regime is poorly understood. Bickley’s research will examine how ecosystem metabolism, biogeochemical cycling, and resident  sh communities in coastal streams and fringing salt marshes respond to this under researched yet widespread disturbance.

2019 Adrienne Ernst

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Adrienne Ernst is a PhD candidate in the Plant Biology and Conservation Department at Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden. She investigates how the diversity sown into a restoration affects the outcomes—focusing on invasion resistance. Standard diversity metrics do not account for species characteristics that may confer invasion resistance. Instead, her research focuses on phylogenetic and functional diversity, metrics which incorporate species identity. Ernst evaluates these metrics as potential ways to increase invasion resistance in restorations by manipulating native species composition.

2019 Rachel Becknell

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Rachel Becknell is a PhD candidate in the Evolution, Ecology, and Population Biology Program at Washington University in St. Louis and performs research at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Tyson Research Center. She is interested in the effects of soil microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi and fungal pathogens, on the ability for rare and endangered plant species to become established in tallgrass prairie and glade restorations. Becknell will use molecular techniques to assess the impacts of soil microbes from remnant prairies and old  elds where tallgrass prairie restorations typically occur on the growth and persistence of four hard-to-establish prairie species.

2019 Christopher Moore

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Christopher Moore is a PhD candidate in the Biology Department at East Carolina University, a public research university in Greenville, NC. He is investigating whether parasite diversity can be used as an indicator of overall biodiversity, particularly in the context of habitat restoration. Parasites that require multiple hosts may be thought of as representing the links between organisms in the environment and “healthy” ecosystems, which are also full of parasites. His project will test how parasite diversity changes across a time-series of previously restored oyster reefs, and whether managers can implement more ef cient forms of restoration to maximize the diversity of parasites and their hosts.


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 2019, $377,500 was awarded to 73 scholars.

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