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GCA Scholarships Recipients


2022 Adair F McNear

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

Did the pollinator cross the road?: Plant-pollinator ecology and wildflower population connectivity in roadside verges of the Piedmont region of North Carolina, USA

Adair McNear is an MS candidate in Ecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research examines plant conservation in the context of anthropogenic landscapes by studying insect-pollinated wildflowers growing in rural roadside verges in central North Carolina. Verges can harbor native grassland communities which are limited to areas where periodic fire or vegetation management creates sunny, open-canopy conditions. By observing roadside pollinator species, measuring rates of cross-pollination, and testing for successful pollen transfer, McNear will explore the potential conservation value of verge habitat for native grassland wildflowers.

2022 Shannon M Collins

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

What’s bee-low the surface: exploring relationships between the soil microbiome and ground-nesting bee communities: Assessing the impacts of soil microbial community composition and physical soil properties on grassland ground-nesting bee communities.

Shannon is a master's student in the Lichtenberg Lab at the University of North Texas, where she studies the impacts of grazing on grassland ground-nesting bee communities through changes to food and nesting resources. Her current project will investigate how soil microbes influence ground-nesting bee communities, with particular attention to known microbial pathogens and mutualists. With her results, she aims to provide insight on whether soil microbiome sequencing may be valuable for bee habitat assessments. Shannon is broadly interested in disturbance ecology, soil-plant-pollinator interactions, sustainable land management, and environmental justice.

2022 Christopher Thomas Cosma

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

Beyond the yucca moth: The composition, structure, and climate change sensitivity of moth pollen-transport networks in the Southwest: This research investigates moth pollen-transport networks along an elevational gradient in Southern California in order to improve our understanding of the scale of moth pollination and how it will be impacted by climate change.

When it comes to pollination, bees and other diurnal pollinators get most of the credit. Chris Cosma’s research seeks to change this. Extending the traditional focus on highly specialized moth pollination interactions to the community level, Cosma combines field sampling with cutting edge molecular techniques to uncover nocturnal moth pollen-transport networks in Southern California habitats. In this research, he uses the natural experiment provided by an elevational gradient to inform predictions about how plant and insect communities will fare in the Southwest’s rapidly changing climate.

2021 Seanne Reyes Clemente

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship
School: PhD candidate in Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Floral Volatiles and Pollinator Self-Medication: Implications for Bee and Plant Fitness

Clemente will conduct experiments to determine whether infection by a trypanosome parasite (Crithidia bombi) changes the foraging preferences of common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) workers. Through field surveys, he also will determine parasite prevalence in wild bees foraging on patches of secondary compound-rich basil (Ocimum basilicum). This work is part of a larger investigation on whether pathogens influence the evolution of plant chemical traits by altering the foraging behaviors of their hosts.


2021 Maura Jacqueline Hall

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship
School: PhD candidate in Toxicology, Iowa State University

Quantification of an Agriculturally Prevalent Pyrethroid Insecticide in Honey Bee Bodies to Determine Risk to Foraging Bees

Hall is actively involved in Iowa State’s Entomology Graduate Student Organization and has held several positions, including president. Her research focuses on assessing the exposure and risk of agricultural insecticides to insect pollinators, including honeybees and monarch butterflies. The goal of her research is to better understand the potential adverse effects of pesticide exposure to pollinator habitat that is located near crop fields. The results from this research will help guide conservation efforts for pollinators within the north central United States.


2021 Christopher Andrew Halsch

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship
School: PhD candidate in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, University of Nevada, Reno

The Interactive Effects of Pesticide Exposure and Climate Change on a Widespread Butterfly

Halsch is interested in the many stressors impacting butterfly populations today, conducting long term monitoring and laboratory experiments to examine the biological mechanisms underlying insect declines. His current projects investigate the interactive effects of pesticide exposure and climate change on butterfly population trajectories.


2020 Logan A Sauers

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

A Pollinator’s Tiny Friends: Investigating the Role of Microbial Communities in the Health of their Pollinator Hosts

Logan A. Sauers is a PhD candidate at Illinois State University, studying the interactions between bumblebees and their beneficial gut microbiota. He is passionate about uncovering how beneficial microbes and their hosts evolve and interact. His master’s thesis uncovered high specificity in colonization of a core gut bacteria and bumblebees. Sauers is expanding his focus to research how multiple bacterial species may work together, providing greater benefits to their hosts in terms of nutrition and parasite defense than the individual species. His work will further the understanding of bumblebee health and how perturbations of gut microbiota may influence it.

2020 Laura A Lampe

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

Comparing Plant-Pollinator Phenological Mismatches in Alpine and Lowland Habitats of Northern California 

Laura A. Lampe is a master’s student at California State University, Chico. She is interested in how mismatches develop between the timing of plant flowering and pollinator activity. Her project utilizes over 100 years 
of herbarium and insect collection records to compare long-term shifts 
in alpine and lowland communities. Climatic shifts can disrupt ecologically important relationships, and these community changes may be distinct in alpine areas, which are understood to be especially sensitive to climate change. Investigating the potential for misalignment of plant-pollinator life history events, especially in communities at risk of habitat loss, will aid in predicting future impacts on crucial species interactions.

2019 Aramee Diethelm

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

Aramee Diethelm is a PhD candidate studying plant-insect-predator interactions at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is interested in how variation in plant chemistry impacts herbivore survival. Her project investigates how milkweed (Asclepias) chemical traits alter the interactions between western monarchs (Danaus plexippus) and their predators across a rainfall gradient. By exclusively consuming milkweed, monarchs are toxic to some predators. However, the chemistry differences within milkweeds as well as the health of the plant impact monarch survival. Diethelm will research how drought stress interacts with plant chemistry, which may impact monarch survival. Her research will aide monarch conservation across the arid West.

2019 Hannah Levenson

The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

Hannah Levenson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University with co-majors in entomology/biology and ecology/evolution. Levenson is conducting a multi-year survey of the native bee populations across North Carolina and assessing how planted habitat affects these populations over time. Her study utilizes previously established pollinator plots to test a range of pollinator species for disease presence and quantity. She measures the presence and infection level of several different pathogens across many bee species found at the sites. This study will be the most detailed survey of native bees in North Carolina to date and will aid in making future conservation decisions.

Funded by North Suffolk Garden Club, Zone III


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.