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GCA Scholarships Recipients


2021 Evelyn Jane Abraham

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany
School: The Pennsylvania State University

Biochemometrics for Unraveling Medicinal Plant Synergy: Techniques for Evaluating Basil Antibacterial Activity 

Abraham’s primary focus is biochemometrics, a natural products approach combining analytical chemistry, bacterial assays, and multivariate statistics to identify novel compounds with medicinal properties. Currently, she is applying biochemometrics to Ocimum basilicum (basil) to discover compounds in leaves that potentiate basil’s essential oil bioactivity against Staphylococcus aureus. As a common culinary herb with well documented essential oil chemistry, basil is readily available and serves as a valuable resource for herbal medicinal research.

2021 Elizabeth Green

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany
School: PhD candidate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Social Network Analysis of Hemp Farming Communities in Appalachia.

Green uses field observation, experiments, and mathematical modeling to test ecological and ethnoecological hypotheses in agricultural settings. Her research focuses on gaining a mechanistic understanding of how local ecological knowledge-sharing within social networks of farmers can help to optimize secondary metabolite concentrations in hemp. Growing hemp in the Appalachian region of the United States has only recently been legalized, with farmers consequently acting largely as their own research advocates. Green’s research will serve to facilitate more equitable farmer access to advanced management support, working to better farmer success.


2021 Hayley Prescott

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany
School: PhD candidate in Pharmacognosy, Department of BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi

Botanical Aphrodisiacs for Women's Health

A trained herbalist, Prescott is investigating botanical species traditionally used as female aphrodisiacs, hoping to lead to better treatment options for Female Sexual Dysfunctions. In particular, she is seeking specialized metabolites of species which activate a receptor known to increase arousal and desire. Optimistic about the future of botanical medicine, she intends to elucidate the pharmacological mechanism of ethnobotanical aphrodisiacs.


2020 Naya Jones PhD

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany

On the Move: African-American Medicinal Ethnobotany and the Great Migration

Naya Jones is an assistant professor 
of Sociology and core facultyin Global and Community Health at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Culture of Health
 Leader, a program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
 A geographer, she researches African American gardens and the Great Migration—the mass migration of African Americans from the South between 1916 and 1970. For “On 
the Move,” Jones uses oral history 
and ethnobotanical and archival methods to understand how the Great Migration shaped Black medicinal plant use and gardening beyond the South. The project holds relevance for preserving botanical knowledge and for resilience in the context of global migration and climate change.

2020 Ella Thomas Vardeman

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany

Bioactivity and Chemotaxonomy of Plants Used by Haitian Immigrants for Women’s Health

Ella Thomas Vardeman is a PhD candidate in the joint plant sciences program at the City University of New York and New York Botanical Garden. Using ethnobotanical, microbiological, and phytochemical methods, she will research medicinal plants used by Haitian immigrants
in New York City for women’s health conditions. Specifically, Vardeman will address the risks and benefits of plants used for intravaginal cleansing and treatment of gynecological infections. Her research will also contribute to a larger urban ethnobotany project for New York City aimed at informing doctors and medical students about traditional health practices of Caribbean and Latino immigrants.

2020 Sasha Nealand

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany

Anti-Mycobacterial Terpenoids of the California Native Plant Grindelia stricta var. platyphylla

Sasha Nealand is a PhD candidate
in natural product chemistry 
at the University of Hawaii at
 Hilo. She conducts chemical and microbiological research isolating anti-mycobacterial terpenoids from
a California coastal plant, Grindelia stricta var. platyphylla. This plant historically has been used medicinally by native people and settlers in North and South America and Mexico 
for inflammation and respiratory ailments. She is studying this plant and its terpenoid compounds for their potential effectiveness as new anti-tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) remedies.

2019 Kate Sammons

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany
Kate Sammons is a PhD candidate in plant and microbial biology at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul. Her research aims to describe the chemical complexity of medicinal plants with metabolomics using the case study of yarrow (Achillea millefolium). A. millefolium is a multiploid species complex with broad global distribution and a long history of medicinal use. Sammons is interested in how ploidy and genotype affect chemical composition, as well as broader questions of how high- resolution mass spectrometry can allow a more holistic assessment of the plant’s medicinal quality.

2019 ​Lekeah Durden

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany

Lekeah Durden is an Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior PhD candidate in the Department of Biology at Indiana University. Her
research interests include ecological and evolutionary questions about symbiotic interactions. She uses the ornamental morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor), Convolvulaceae family, with its fungal symbiont as a system to study co-evolution. By studying the symbiosis, she aims to understand the effects of the plant-fungal partnership and the protective role it has against insect pests and the surrounding plant community. Her prior observations have shown that the partnership provides the plant with bene ts against natural enemies, due to the fungal ergot alkaloid products.

2019 Harna Patel

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany

Harna Patel is a PhD candidate in the Department of Plant Biology at Rutgers University. She will investigate novel applications for African indigenous plants to further science and to bene t rural communities that use sustainable environmental practices in producing the ingredients. Patel will be examining new uses for the Kombo plant (Pycnanthus angolensis) native to West and Central Africa. It is also known as the African nutmeg and is used in traditional African medicine. Her focus will be on developing applications for human skin health.

2018 Katherine Farley

The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany

Katherine Farley is a PhD candidate in sociocultural anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research is concerned with the emerging market for wild-simulated ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and other medicinal herbs grown in Appalachia. She is particularly interested in how growers acquire knowledge about the operation of wild-simulated systems, as well as how value-added qualities like wild or wild-simulated adhere to products as they travel through medicinal plant supply chains. Farley’s research has implications for medicinal plant conservation in Appalachia because wild populations of many species are under threat due to overharvesting and habitat loss.


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.