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GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Catherine H. Beattie Fellowship in Conservation Horticulture


2018 Rachel E. Becknell

Rachel E. Becknell is a PhD candidate in the Evolution, Ecology, and Population Biology program at Washington University
in St. Louis in a liation with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the university’s Tyson Research Center. Her project is titled “The Effects of Soil Microbes on the Growth and Survival of Endangered Astragalus bibullatus.” Her dissertation focuses on the e ects of soil microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi and fungal pathogens, on community dynamics in tallgrass prairie restorations and
in the reintroduction of the federally endangered glade plant species Astragalus bibullatus. This species is currently known to exist in only eight populations in central Tennessee. Becknell will examine whether it possesses species-specific microbes necessary for its successful long-term reintroduction.

2018 Patrick A. Smallwood

Patrick A. Smallwood is a PhD candidate in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia. His research is focused on the interactions between orchids and their mycorrhizal fungal partners. Specifically, he is interested in how the identity of the fungus may change across orchid populations as the needs of the orchid change. He intends to use molecular techniques to understand how orchid mycorrhizal communities associated with the yellow lady’s slipper orchid change across eastern North America. He hopes that the results of his work will help inform native orchid conservation.

2017 Jordan T. Wood

Jordan T. Wood is a master’s student in the Program in Plant Biology and Conservation at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden, where he studies conservation biology, population genetics, and living collections management. He will research threatened North American oak species to characterize and compare the genetic diversity of wild populations and living collections held in botanic gardens. The resulting genetic data may be used by botanic gardens to increase their capacity to meet conservation goals of threatened plants.

2017 Yasmin A. Khan

Yasmin A. Khan is a master’s student in biology at Halmos College of Natural Science and Oceanography at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her project is titled “A Comparative Metagenomic Study of the Microbiome of an Endangered Florida Lupine Species (Lupinus aridorum).” Her research will compare the soil, root nodule, and flower microbiomes of the endangered L. aridorum species to the commonly found species L. diffuses. She aims to provide significant insight into the complex dynamics that contribute to the species’ growth and development. Her project serves as a contribution to the plant conservation initiative at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida.

2016 Brandy Rogers Riekert

Brandy Rogers Riekert is a master's student in the Integrative Biology program at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. Her project is titled, “Population Genetics and Host Specificity of a Rare Parasitic Plant, (Cuscuta harperi).” Her research will focus on population genetics and host specificity in Harper's dodder (Cuscuta harperi) which is endemic to Georgia and Alabama. Through genetic research, greenhouse studies, and biogeographic analysis, additional understanding into how, when, where, and why this species survives will be determined.

2016 Lynnaun Johnson

Lynnaun Johnson is a PhD candidate at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He is researching the carbon nutrition and mycorrhizal fungi relationships of the Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii), an endangered, leafless, epiphytic orchid native to Florida. His research will provide much needed data about the nutrient needs and fungal relationships of this rare and charismatic orchid species found in Florida’s swamps. This study will provide knowledge for future conservation initiatives of epiphytic orchids.

2016 Tracy Cook

Tracy Cook is a first year master’s candidate in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Alabama A & M University and Assistant Curator at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Her research involves the identification of topographical, edaphic, and ecological variables that limit where the endangered Huntsville Vase Vine (Clematis morefieldii) grows naturally. Quantitative evaluation and spatial analysis will be used to predict the locations of unknown populations, clarify habitat requirements, and provide a baseline from which the effects of land management may be assessed.

2015 Chelsea N. Miller

Chelsea N. Miller is a Master’s candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Chelsea’s research focuses on factors promoting rarity in state-endangered understory herbs of the genus Trillium in eastern Tennessee and surrounding regions. She is comparing ant-seed dispersal and germination requirements between rare and common congeners in an effort to determine if differences in these factors lead to rarity in certain species. This research will inform conservation efforts and can be placed in the context of global change

2015 Natali Miller

Natali Miller is a Master’s degree student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. She will collect and analyze data from three populations of a federally listed plant, telephus spurge (Euphorbia telephioides), to determine if each population is declining, increasing or stable. She will also conduct pollen supplementation experiments in order to assess if female plants in those three populations receive insufficient quantities or quality of pollen for seed production also known as pollen limitation. Natali’s main goal is to become an expert in population ecology and help quantify plant conservation goals and objectives.

2014 Renee Fortner

Renee Fortner is a Master's degree student at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Her research project is titled: "The Reproductive Ecology of the Federally Endangered Cooley's Meadowrue (Thalictrum cooleyi ahles) in Eastern North Carolina." She will study the endangered species and seeks to investigate matters of critical concern in supporting seed set and the genetic structure of small populations. 



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 was awarded to 65 scholars.

In its inaugural year, the Montine M. Freeman Scholarship in Native Plant Studies was awarded to Angela Merriken and Dr. Uma Venkatesh.

Read more about the new Scholarship and the recipients.