Members Area

GCA Scholarships Recipients


2023 Erin Eichenberger

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture
School: PhD candidate in Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University

Investigating the Population Vital Rates and Pollinators of the Rare Southeastern Perennial Echinacea laevigata to Improve Management Recommendations

Eichenberger will conduct demographic and floral visitor surveys of the smooth purple coneflower, a federally listed threatened species, to support ongoing conservation efforts. In collaboration with North Carolina State University, North Carolina Botanical Garden, and NC Plant Conservation Program, Eichenberger will investigate the influence of canopy closure on growth and reproduction of the species. The study will support recommendations about management practices to stakeholders who oversee the species’s extant populations.


2023 Madeline Bednar

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture
School: Master’s student, Botany, Miami University

Conservation Genetics of Sarracenia rubra ssp. gulfensis, a Petitioned Pitcher Plant of the Florida Panhandle

Bednar will measure the level and structure of genetic diversity within and among the existing populations of the gulf pitcher plant by sampling across the full range of native distribution, measuring the prevalence of clonality within populations, and providing an estimate of plant abundance during survey periods. Results from the study will aid the status assessment of the pitcher plant by US Fish and Wildlife Service and will identify necessary conservation efforts.


2022 Thomas Wiegand

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture

Measuring Growth Plasticity in Response to Light in Two Rare Asters

Weigand will investigate the ability of two rare asters, Helianthus verticillatus and H. longifolius, to successfully acclimate to varied light conditions through plastic responses. With a focus on the ecological and evolutionary drivers of plant rarity, Weigand’s work will compare plasticity in rare and common congeners subjected to various environmental stressors associated with habitat loss, land-use change, anthropogenic climate change, and other factors influencing the persistence of native rare plants.

2022 Kira Lindelof

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture

Examining the Roles of Temperature, Precipitation, and Soil Type on the Growth of the Endangered Houstonia montana (Rubiaceae)

Lindelof’s research will focus on the conservation biology and fundamental niche of the endangered Roan Mountain bluet (Houstonia montana), a rare herb endemic to highelevation rocky summits of the Appalachian Mountains. Using genomic, field, and growth-chamber studies, Lindelof will expand the current understanding of the ecology of this species with the intention to guide conservation and management efforts.

2021 Bing Li

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture
School: Master’s Student, Plant Biology and Conservation Program, Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden

Using Genetic Data to Conserve a Rare Plant Species, Oenothera organensis, in New Mexico 

Li’s study focuses on the effects of cultivation and conservation practices on the genetics and floral traits of a rare evening primrose species, Oenothera organensis. She hopes to develop a conservation strategy for this species.


2021 Ryan O'Connell

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture
School: PhD candidate in Ecology, Duke University

Measuring the Population Response of the Mountain Golden Heather (Hudsonia montana) to Multiple Forms of Environmental Stress

O’Connell’s research centers around the ways in which populations respond to multiple sources of environmental stress, with a particular emphasis on human-related impacts. For his dissertation project, he is using mountain golden heather (Hudsonia montana) as a focal species in a series of field and greenhouse experiments aimed at understanding the threats facing this rare North Carolina endemic plant. This work will guide future restoration efforts for mountain golden heather and, if those efforts prove successful, could be applied to other threatened species.


2020 Michael Kunz

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture

Population Ecology of Astragalus michauxii, a Rare Southeastern US Endemic Species

Michael Kunz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environment, Ecology, and Energy Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and
 the Conservation Ecologist at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. His research focuses on the ecological factors, such as pollination, herbivory, fire, and precipitation, that influence changes in populations of the rare sandhills milkvetch (Astragalus michauxii). Kunz’s work also examines how changing climate will affect the distribution of sandhills milkvetch populations in the future. This research will help build an understanding of how the changing environment affects rare species and guide future reintroduction and conservation efforts.

2020 Michelle DePrenger-Levin

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture

Flexible Seed Harvest Limits for ex-situ Seed Conservation of Rare Plants 

Michelle DePrenger-Levin is a PhD candidate in integrative and systems biology at the University of Colorado Denver. She is interested in spatial and population trend modeling for rare plant conservation and will 
use population viability models to project the extinction risk of rare plants. DePrenger-Levin’s work examines incorporating climate change with variable seed harvest rates and intensities to understand how responses to these perturbations will vary by life history traits. Her goal is to provide practical guidance on maximizing seed collections that minimize extinction risk across rare species traits.

2019 Rachel Lyman

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture

Rachel Lyman is a PhD candidate in the Evolution, Ecology, and Population Biology Program at Washington University in St. Louis in conjunction with the Missouri Botanical Garden. Through genetic research and biogeographic analyses, she will assess the genetic diversity in native and reintroduced populations and determine biogeographic forces that gave rise to the endangered endemic Trifolium calcaricum. This study will provide important insights for management and conservation.

2019 Gavin Shotts

The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture

Gavin Shotts is a master’s student in biology at Auburn University. His studies focus on how pollination ecology can inform conservation of rare and threatened southeastern  ora. His project investigates breeding traits and mating systems critical to maintaining genetic diversity in both threatened Spigelia species. His research will directly inform seed collections for ex situ conservation of Spigelia through plant propagation and future outplantings. This project will also provide new avenues to integrate pollination ecology into plant conservation efforts throughout the Southeast.

Back to Scholarships

Scholarship Opportunities Abound

The Garden Club of America offers 29 merit-based scholarships and fellowships in 12 areas related to conservation, ecology, horticulture, and pollinator research. In 2023, over $405,000 were awarded to 86 scholars. Follow GCA Scholarships on Instagram for the latest news about pollinators, coastal wetlands, native bird habitats, and much more. Connect to a larger world of horticulture and conservation through Garden Club of America scholars. Browse the scholarship offerings.

GCA's Scholarships Instagram profile