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GCA Scholarships Recipients

 

2021 Luke Matthew Douglas

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat
School: Master’s student, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

Rusty Blackbird Use of Commercial Spruce-Fir Forests of Northern New England

Douglas studies the Rusty Blackbird, one of the continent’s most rapidly declining songbirds, which breeds in young spruce-fir stands adjacent to freshwater wetlands. His work focuses on the potential impacts of commercial logging practices, such as clearcutting and pre-commercial thinning, on Rusty Blackbird nesting and on fledgling habitat selection and survival. These efforts will contribute to the development of new management guidelines for the species.

 


2021 Carl Pohlman

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat
School: Master’s student, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

Assessing the Long-term Effects of an Expanding Gap Silvicultural System on the Avian Assemblage at the Acadian Forest Ecosystem Research Program 

Pohlman’s research focuses on understanding how bird communities respond to an experimental forest harvest method based on the natural disturbance regime of the local forest; it aims to mimic natural processes such as tree mortality and changing forest structure. His work is conducted at the Penobscot Experimental Forest, located in Bradley and Eddington, Maine.

 


2020 Antonio Del Valle

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Grassland Breeding Bird Communities: Impact of Bison and Prescribed Fire at Restored and Remnant Eastern Tallgrass Prairies

Antonio Del Valle is a master’s student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Illinois University. His thesis research focuses on studying the impact that reintroduced bison and prescribed 
fire have on grassland breeding bird communities in tallgrass prairies in Illinois and Indiana. The study will involve surveying grassland birds 
and vegetation structure at different management units in the only three preserves that contain wild bison year-round in this region. Results from this research will provide insight to aid managers in the continued restoration of tallgrass prairies and conservation of these declining bird species.



2019 Kathryn Grabenstein

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Kathryn Grabenstein is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Overall, her work explores the patterns that urban green spaces appear to change. Combining  eld studies and genomic approaches, Grabenstein investigates how gardens and backyards modify the interactions between chickadees to promote hybridization. She is also establishing a long-term study titled the Boulder Chickadee Study, as an experimental framework to address this question. Results from this work will provide insight into how the interactions between species are altered in a rapidly changing world.



2019 Spencer Keyser

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Spencer Keyser is a master’s student at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Using regional long-term data sets combined with local  eld surveys, he will investigate how climate-driven changes in coastal vegetation (i.e. marsh-mangrove shifts) will impact bird community composition and food web interactions across the Gulf of Mexico. Keyser believes understanding
how climate and vegetation shifts impact bird assemblages is crucial to conserving and predicting changes in current avian biodiversity across the Gulf of Mexico.



2019 Joshua Driscoll

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Joshua Driscoll is an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Driscoll’s research will utilize GPS trackers to monitor the migratory path of the eastern whip-poor-will, identifying where the species spends the winter. The winter habitat will then be compared to the breeding grounds using ArcGIS. This information will help identify speci c habitat requirements needed for whip-poor-wills so that conservation management plans can be established.



2018 Martha Wohlfeil

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Martha Wohlfeil is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis, studying avian biogeography in the Great Basin, the largest area of contiguous watersheds in North America. Her project, titled “Potential Mechanisms of Within- Season Elevational Movement of Passerine Species,” identifies a novel pattern of upslope movement in some bird species and aims to better understand why this does or does not occur. Also studying how avian flight patterns have changed over the past two decades, Wohlfeil hopes her work will aid avian conservation efforts.



2018 Logan Maxwell

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Logan Maxwell is a master’s student at the University of New Hampshire. Her project is titled “Fitness Consequences of Hybridization in Saltmarsh and Nelson’s Sparrows.” Maxwell’s research will use field-collected demographic data in combination with molecular genetic tools to study outcomes of hybridization in these two tidal marsh birds, which are threatened by sea-level rise. She will evaluate their drivers and patterns of hybridization in the center of the hybrid zone through a lens of local adaptation within a changing environment.  The results will help enable predictions about adaptive capacity and population viability into the future.



2017 Megan S. Jones

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Megan S. Jones is a PhD candidate at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Her project is titled “Identifying Gardeners’ Barriers and Motivations to Improve Habitat for Threatened and Endangered Native Birds.” She will interview residents along the Colorado Front Range to understand what factors motivate them to adopt new bird-friendly gardening behaviors, such as planting native plants, and what challenges may be preventing them from doing more. Her research will draw on an innovative model of behavior change and will generate recommendations for how to improve bird-friendly gardening programs across the US.



2017 Emily Graves

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Emily Graves is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis. Her project is titled “Risks and Mechanisms of Tricolored Blackbird Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Wetland and Grassland Habitats.” Her research will utilize radio telemetry to investigate tricolored blackbird foraging movements in relation to different habitat types. She will evaluate pesticide exposure, bird body condition, stress hormone levels, and insect abundance to determine habitat characteristics that affect reproductive success in this species of conservation concern. Her study provides awareness about the role agricultural pesticides play in population decline of insectivorous wetland and grassland species.



 

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.