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GCA Scholarships Recipients

 

2022 Max McCarthy

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Landscape Effects on Population Connectivity of a Rare Specialist Bee

McCarthy will study the rare Parnassia mining bee to determine how well-connected bee populations fare in heterogeneous environments. McCarthy’s research will focus on populations of specialist wild bees and their relationship with host plants. McCarthy will measure genetic differentiation among populations to assess how geographic distance and landscape composition between sites affects population connectivity.



2022 Nicolina Lentine

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Impacts of Increasing Salt Concentrations and Artificial Root Exudates on Soil Function and Plant Growth

Lentine’s research will analyze soil function and how microorganisms can keep soil healthy despite negative stressors such as salt and heavy metals. The project will explore how increased salt concentrations impact soil function in coastal soils and if artificial root exudates can offset the negative impacts of soil salinity. 



2022 Erin Olivia Quinn

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Exploring Betalain Pigment Concentrations in Amaranth and Hibiscus Cultivars

Quinn will conduct field and laboratory research to determine antioxidant concentrations in amaranth and hibiscus cultivars. Applying pruning, potting, irrigation, and plant-breeding techniques, Quinn hopes to discover ways to increase antioxidant concentrations in plant cultivars. Lab techniques including fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and high-performance liquid chromatography will assess the pigment concentrations in plant varieties and will quantify the success of the plant-breeding process.



2021 Lucia Weinman

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship
School: PhD candidate in Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers University

Plant-Pollinator Mutualisms in Temperate Deciduous Forests: Understanding the Resource Use and Functional Contributions of an Understudied Bee Fauna

Weinman studies the foraging patterns of bee species native to deciduous forest habitat in the upper Midwest. To learn what plants forest bees depend on, as well as the bees’ potential as pollen vectors for those plants, she is analyzing the pollen that female bees collect to provision their larvae, as well as the pollen that sticks to their bodies and is available for pollination. Her work will provide important information for conservation and management of forest bee communities.

 


2020 Joseph Reiner

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Comparing Bee Pollinator Communities on Native versus Invasive Viburnums


Joseph M. Reiner is an undergraduate senior at Rutgers University majoring in environmental science. He plans to pursue graduate studies in 2021 with hopes of attaining a PhD in sustainability studies. His current project continues research started in spring 2019 that explores plant-pollinator interactions among species of understory trees and shrubs. With wild bee populations in decline, this investigation can offer insight into the pollinator communities that are attracted to these plants. In turn, this knowledge holds implications for conservation and habitat management.



2020 Ellen O White

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

The Ecological Impacts of Federal Roadside Design Guidelines: Two State Interpretations


Ellen O. White is a Ph.D. candidate at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and a Coastal Climate Risk and Resiliency Fellow. She is a transportation researcher, urban designer, certified city planner,
 and GIS analyst with an interest
 in the environmental effects of transportation infrastructure. Her work combines macro-scale analyses of landscape history, ecology, transportation policy, and design, measuring the effects of these forces through the lens of climate resiliency. Her dissertation research focuses on roadside vegetation management practices and their ecological effects. Prior to pursuing her PhD, White worked as an urban designer and transportation planner, helping communities design better transit systems and streets. She also holds master’s degrees in urban planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and in landscape architecture from Rutgers.



2018 Natalie Kashi

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Natalie Kashi is a doctoral candidate in the Natural Resources & Earth Systems Science PhD Program at the University of New Hampshire. She studies peatland development in response to permafrost thaw and, speci cally, how nutrients released from permafrost thaw impact microbes that produce and consume methane, an important greenhouse gas.  This research has important implications for managing greenhouse emissions in the restoration of wetlands.



2017 Tyler Coverdale

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Tyler Coverdale is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. His project is titled “Plant Defenses in African Savannas: Does Herbivory Drive Epigenetic Variation?” He studies African savanna plant defenses at Mpala Research Center and Wildlife Foundation in Laikipia, Kenya, witha focus on how interactions between plants shape plant defense strategies. He will use a combination of field experiments and genetic analysis to investigate how the proximity of well defended neighbors, which shelter palatable plants from large savanna herbivores (e.g., elephants, zebra, impala), impacts the defensive strategy and epigenetic signature of a common savanna shrub.



2017 Tony Cullen

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Tony Cullen is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University in New Jersey. His project is titled “The Great Garden Escape: the Role of Evolution in the Invasion for Two Ornamental Viburnums.” His research
explores how small populations of non-native shrubs become larger naturalized populations. He uses a landscape genetics study to determine how environmental and geographic features influence gene flow and local adaptation. Gaining insight into the potential rapid microevolutionary change in invasive species will allow ecologists to understand the factors involved in colonization and spread. This knowledge will help land managers make more informed decisions about management strategies and restoration practices.



2016 Molly Bindell

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

Molly Bindell is a PhD candidate in the Ecology and Evolution and the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers University, NJ. She studies arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), an important group of plant root-inhabiting, microbial symbionts, associated with switchgrass in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and beyond. Her project will investigate a novel metagenomic approach to studying AMF using Illumina next-generation sequencing technology to uncover the diversity of these ecologically and potentially economically important fungi in varying environments.



 
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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 2022, over $350,000 were awarded to 78 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.