Members Area

GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration


2018 Julie Larson

Julie Larson is a PhD candidate in the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. An early summer job as a restoration technician spurred her interest in invasive plants and grassland restoration. As a researcher, she now asks questions about what allows some plant species to persist in a given environment while others are threatened. In her project,
Larson explores whether di erences in seed and plant traits can predict grassland species’ chances of storage or regeneration, and whether seeding or grazing practices based strategically on traits can help restore persistent communities.

2018 Riley Pizza

Riley Pizza is a master’s student in integrated biosciences at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her research project is titled “Are Restoration Seed Pools Evolving under Commercial Propagation?” Pizza is studying the potential domestication of native plant species grown on farms for restoration projects. Currently conservationists are using seed that is grown and mechanically harvested on farms for restoration, but few have considered whether these seeds are evolving to acquire domestication traits that would reduce their survival in the wild.  e results of this research will provide information about how seeds are collected for restoration purposes.

2018 Carmen L. Tubbesing

Carmen L. Tubbesing is a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. She researches the long-term consequences of large, severe  res in the Sierra Nevada— fires that are ahistorical but have become more common as a result of human activity. Speci cally she studies competition between montane shrubs and young native conifers.  is plant interaction is poorly understood but essential to determining how post-  re plant communities will change over time.  is work will help land managers foster diverse forests in the aftermath of big  res.

2018 Lindsey Hendricks-Franco

Lindsey Hendricks- Franco is a PhD candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She studies how plant functional diversity drives post- re recovery of soils in Northern California’s chaparral shrublands. Shortly after summer  res, herbaceous plants grow proli cally, likely absorbing nitrogen from ash before it runs o  to pollute nearby bodies of water. She uses herb- removal experiments to demonstrate the combinations of plants that maximize post- re nitrogen retention and soil restoration. Hendricks-Franco will assess the impacts of herb removal on roundworms, which are biological indicators of soil health and recovery.

2017 Joan Dudney

Joan Dudney is a PhD candidate in the Environmental Science Department at the University of California, Berkeley. She is studying the current spread and severity of white pine blister rust (WPBR) in California. She aims to develop science-based management for climate change and invasive rust. An exotic fungus from China, Cronortium ribicola, causes WPBR, which is attributed to precipitous population declines in several white pine species. She plans to incorporate drought impacts on the WPBR pathosystem to develop a more accurate habitat refugia map that will establish the baseline for white pine management in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range.

2017 Melissa Booher

Melissa Booher is a master’s ecology student in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Her project is titled “Carex scopulorum’s Role in Restoration of the Carbon Storing Ecosystem in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park.” Her research will assess the fate and contribution of introducing thousands of Carex scopulorum (also known as mountain sedge) seedlings to areas of Tuolumne Meadows, a subalpine Sierra Nevada meadow, with high bare soil cover. This sedge species is native, highly productive, and predicted to contribute to organic soil building. Understanding how Carex scopulorum contributes to the recovery of this meadow will help land managers effectively restore similarly degraded areas throughout the Sierra Nevada.

2017 Katya Jay

Katya Jay is a PhD candidate in the Integrative Biology Department at Oregon State University in Corvallis. She studies relationships between beach grasses, dune geomorphology, and extreme storm events. She is investigating the recovery of coastal dune systems following Hurricane Matthew by comparing natural and managed dunes along the Outer Banks of North Carolina in Cape Lookout National Seashore. The dunes of the barrier island provide the coastline with critical protection against flooding and storm surges for nearby communities. She will conduct field surveys every four months over the next two years, and the results of her research will be used to inform coastal ecosystem management about dune restoration techniques.

2017 Tomasz Falkowski

Tomasz Falkowski is a PhD candidate in the Environmental and Forest Biology Department at the State University of New York in Syracuse. He studies the application of traditional ecological knowledge in ecosystem restoration management. His research empirically assesses whether Lacandon Maya agroforestry can effectively and sustainably restore ecosystem services in degraded and deforested tropical rainforests in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve region of Chiapas, Mexico. His work demonstrates how Lacandon Maya agroforestry can restore forest cover and fulfill the socioeconomic needs of rural communities. His research will be performed in collaboration with traditional farmers in the Lacandon Maya community of Lacanja Chansayab, Chiapas, Mexico.

2016 Leah Nagel

Leah Nagel is a master's candidate at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She will study vernal pools—small, temporary wetlands that provide important habitat for a variety of amphibian and macroinvertebrate species. She will work with the Natural Heritage Program in New York and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop rapid-assessment protocols to assess pool quality in natural and restored systems. This will help to evaluate the effectiveness of wetland mitigation efforts and prioritize pools for conservation.

2016 Angelo Jason Spadaro

Angelo Jason Spadaro is a PhD candidate in Ecological Sciences at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. His project is titled, "Can cryptic grazing crabs facilitate community level coral reef restoration efforts in the Florida Keys?" He will investigate the role that herbivorous crabs play in driving the community structure of shallow coral reefs and how this ecological role might be exploited to facilitate reef restoration activities.



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 2018, more than $308,400 were awarded to 65 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.