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GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Clara Carter Higgins Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship


2018 Gauri Kambhatla

Gauri Kambhatla is a sophomore studying computer science and cognitive science at the University of Michigan. She is passionate about interweaving artificial intelligence with sustainability to create solutions to the major issues of climate change: how AI and machine learning can be used to combat or prevent damage to ecosystems worldwide. She will be studying in Denmark and modeling glaciers to learn about their formation, preservation, and destruction; their part in our global climate system; and the effects of climate change on them. She will be doing fieldwork in the glaciers of Iceland, creating models for glacier behavior and learning on-site.

2018 Jordan Sims

Jordan Sims is a rising junior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology and minoring in biochemistry and cell biology at Rice University in Houston, Texas. She has spent a semester developing an effective method for isolating viruses from coral mucus, which is secreted by stressed corals. To continue this project, she will travel to Mo'orea in French Polynesia to explore how viral abundance in coral mucus changes during coral bleaching. This research aims to answer big picture questions about the health of coral reef ecosystems in rapidly changing environments.

2018 Christian J. Moore

Christian J. Moore is currently a fourth-year undergraduate landscape architecture student at The Ohio State University. His project, “People of the Grassland: A Comparative Study of Volga German Communities and Ecologies in Saratov Oblast, Russia,” explores the relationship between cultural identity and grassland landscape typologies.  This work is part of a larger investigation into landscape architecture’s role in the design and development of agricultural communities.  Through this research, Moore intends to gain a better understanding of the common environmental challenges facing these communities across international borders.

2018 Alison Moss

Alison Moss is a junior studying microbial ecology at Towson University in Maryland.  is summer she will investigate the metabolic activity of bacteria found in the dung beetle gut. Like humans, dung beetles host symbiotic bacteria that assist in digestion and provide essential nutrients. Commonly found on dairy farms, dung beetles can minimize the environmental impact of raising cattle by consuming and redistributing animal waste. Identifying the abilities of other members of their microbiome will increase our understanding of how microbes regulate agricultural waste, helping us to predict how disturbances—like antibiotic use
or climate change—may alter this important dynamic.

Funded by Green Spring Valley Garden Club, Zone VI

2018 Mary Devlin

Mary Devlin is a senior in the Environmental Earth and Soil Sciences program at California Polytechnic State University, San
Luis Obispo. Her project is titled “Implications for Better Management of a  reatened Habitat—California’s Serpentine Grasslands.”  is summer she will investigate how nutrient enrichment in serpentine soils a ects the ability of non-native invasive grasses to become established in them. Serpentine soils, typically heavy-mineral-rich and nutrient-poor, are a refuge for rare and endemic plants in California, but nutrient deposition from human activity, such as fossil fuel combustion and use of fertilizers, could change their nutrient balance. Understanding how nutrient enrichment in uences competition between non-native and native grasses will inform future management of California’s serpentine grasslands.

2017 Johnny Buck

Johnny Buck is a junior studying native environmental science at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Washington. A second-year Higgins scholar, he will participate in the Harvard Forest Summer Research Program in Ecology at Harvard University. His research is titled “Explaining Variation in the Seasonal Changes of Trees.” He will study the effects of natural and human disturbances on forest ecosystems including global climate change, hurricanes, forest harvest, wildlife dynamics, and species diversity.

2017 Nathaniel Kiel

Nathaniel Kiel is a junior at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, majoring in conservation biology with a minor in native peoples and the environment at the State University of New York, Syracuse. His research will observe the ability of flowering understory plants to reestablish in post-agricultural woodlands across central New York. He will observe and quantify ant dispersal of forest understory herb seeds. He aims to learn about plant ecology, particularly in plant-animal interactions and their roles in habitat succession and organismal evolution.

2016 Johnny Buck

Johnny Buck (Wanapum/Yakama) is a sophomore in the Native Environmental Science Program at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Washington. He will be participating in the 2016 NASA Summer Internship Research Experience in Geospatial Technology and Climate Change at Haskell Indian Nations University. He will be trained in Geographic Information System mapping, remote sensing and climate change as well as the social dimensions of climate impacts. He will conduct fieldwork research related to the development of an Indigenous Phenology Observation Network that will be applied to his research.

2015 Lorenzo Gibson

Lorenzo Gibson is a third year undergraduate at Columbia University. His ecological fieldwork and research will be conducted in India's Western Ghats through Columbia University's Summer Ecosystem Experience (SEE-U) Program. He is interested in sustainable urban agriculture, natural waste management and nutrient recycling processes.

2015 Rachel Cook

Rachel Cook is a junior at The College of William and Mary with an academic concentration in Biology. She will be doing an internship to discern the trophic relationships among insects, historical and contemporary, associated with the American chestnut. She will be supervised by a professor in the biology department at William and Mary and Dr. Robert Kula at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History in DC.

Funded by Amateurs Gardeners Club (MD), Zone VI



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.