Members Area

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


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.

2016 Shelby Rinehart

Shelby Rinehart is a PhD candidate in the Joint Doctoral Program in Ecology at San Diego State University and University of California, Davis. Her project is titled, “It’s a bug eat bug world: Impacts of insect predators on salt marsh restoration in southern California,” asks questions designed to enhance salt marsh restorations. Her research has focused on the role of insect predators, especially ladybeetles, in salt marsh food webs. She studies how seasonality and the presence of predators can impact the overall success of restoration efforts along the southern California coastline.

2016 Madeline Nolan

Madeline Nolan is a PhD candidate in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her project is titled, “The influence of seed source diversity on the successful restoration of purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra) in California grasslands.” Her research is focused on the restoration of native grass communities in Southern California. She studies how different restoration techniques influence the survivability and growth of native California grasses during extreme droughts. This information will be used to inform and improve grassland restoration projects.

2016 Alicia Calle

Alicia Calle is a PhD candidate in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her project is titled, “Understanding the role of pilvopastoral, SPS, systems in the restoration of degraded tropical landscapes.” She will research how agroecological farming methods can be used to advance forest landscape restoration in tropical regions of high biodiversity value. She will examine how the implementation of agroforestry-based ranching practices in Quindío, Colombia more than a decade ago have affected tree cover and species composition, as well as farmers’ perceptions about trees, forests, and restoration.

2015 Mathew Reid

Mathew Reid is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at the University of Louisville. His project is entitled, “Do altered soil communities inhibit restoration following invasive species management in primary successional sand dune systems?” His research focuses on the impacts of exotic plant invasion and subsequent management on soil communities, primarily nematodes (worms) and mycorrhizal fungi, adding to the understanding of how altered soil communities could impact restoration efforts in Great Lakes sand dunes.



Scholarship Opportunities Abound

The GCA offers 28 merit-based scholarships and fellowships, awarding more than $330,000 to 86 scholars in 2017.

For example, the GCA Fellowship in Ecological Restoration offers an $8,000 annual grant for graduate study and research at a leading accredited university in the United States. Fields of study of past recipients have ranged from forestry to applied plant sciences to ecology and evolutionary biology.

Read more about the four 2017 recipients.