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GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Elizabeth Gardner Norweb Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship


2018 Soren Struckman

Soren Struckman is a senior with a biology major and a minor in applied statistics at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He will be part of a research team studying leaf chemistry and insect herbivory and their effects on common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) demographics. He will be using field data to create a computational model of milkweed population dynamics
to determine the effect of temporal variation in leaf traits and of herbivory on population growth.  This area of research has strong implications for monarch butterfly conservation and the restoration of pollinator-friendly habitats.

2018 Camille DeSisto

Camille DeSisto is a junior at Harvard University studying integrative biology with a secondary concentration in environmental science and public policy.  is summer she will expand upon a project she started last year, studying the invasive strawberry guava in Madagascar.  The goals of the project are to understand animal-mediated dispersal networks, impacts of the strawberry guavas on  oral and faunal community structure, and the genetic diversity throughout the country. The field work for this project will be conducted primarily in Ranomafana National Park, but Camille will also collect data in other national parks in Madagascar.

2017 Camile DeSisto

Camille DeSisto is a sophomore studying integrative biology at Harvard. Her conservation biology fieldwork will be conducted at Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park, where she will study how lemurs and birds facilitate the spread of invasive plant species, particularly the strawberry guava, in the rainforests. She will collect data on the eating and defecation patterns of lemurs and birds, gather samples of plant tissues for DNA analysis, record the size and extent of flora, and conduct germination experiments.

2017 Clara Guillem

Clara Guillem, a junior studying molecular biology at Eckerd College in Florida, was a 2016 Summer Environmental Studies (SES) scholar. This summer she will continue her research to find causes of “citrus greening,” also known as HLB, a vector-transmitted pathogen that poses a major threat to citrus crops. She will compare the bacterial root microbiomes of asymptomatic and HLB-symptomatic grapefruit trees. She will focus on the further characterization of fungal species present near the roots of citrus trees to provide a greater understanding of citrus health and how it may be affected by citrus greening.

2016 Clara Guillem

Clara Guillem is a sophomore studying Biology at Eckerd College. This summer she will participate in the Natural Sciences Summer Research Program and study the bacterial microbiome associated with the roots of citrus trees in Florida. Characterizing the root microbiomes of healthy citrus trees will help to gain a better understanding of this prominent crop's well-being, and be useful when studying citrus diseases, like citrus greening (HLB). She will isolate the DNA of bacterial samples and analyze their genetic material to better understand of the bacterial community of citrus tree roots.

2016 Kimberlie Le

Kimberlie Le is a junior at University of California-Berkeley studying Molecular Toxicology and Legal Studies. She is currently conducting independent research about the effects of pesticides and other agrochemicals on river ecosystems and will be conducting her research in Taiwan. Her project  is taking a multidisciplinary approach to look at the biological effects of pesticides through performing bioassessments (looking at benthic macroinvertebrate concentrations and volumes as an indicator of river health), as well as looking at how the rise of pesticides have affected agricultural practices in Taiwan.

2015 Kathryn Cooney

Kathryn Cooney is a junior studying Environmental Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This summer she will participate in a research program at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. She will study how predators affect snails on tropical shorelines of Pacific Panama. Kathryn will be responsible for conducting field and laboratory experiments to manipulate encounters between predators and potential prey. This is the second time Kathryn has received a Summer Environmental Studies Award. 

2015 Jessica Munyan

Jessica Munyan is a junior at Rider University in New Jersey. Her academic concentration is in Environmental Science. She will use dendrochronology, which is the study of annual growth rings in trees, to explore and develop an environmental history of the ornamental grounds and surrounding forest at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in Bedford County, Virginia. 

2015 Olivia Trani

Olivia Trani is junior with an emphasis in Biology and Environmental Science at the College of William and Mary. She will do an independent research project on how American chestnut seedlings are influenced by adopted mycorrhizal fungi – observing how the seedlings performances change when faced with this fungi abundance from neighboring mature tree communities. She hopes to gain insight into how this might affect restoration efforts of the American chestnut.

Funded by Green Spring Valley Garden Club (MD), Zone VI

2015 Lauren Gamblin

Lauren Gamblin is a sophomore at Mississippi State University studying Horticulture where she is an Undergraduate Research Scholar. Her research objective is to understand how activity and diversity of soil organisms impact plant growth and their ability to overcome pathogens. Her particular interest is to determine if beneficial soil invertebrates can assist loblolly pine in overcoming an attack of blue stain fungus. Loblolly pines are a significant and abundant tree species in the southeastern United States.

Funded by the Garden Club of Cleveland (OH), Zone X and The Norweb Foundation (OH), Zone X



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.