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GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Corliss Knapp Engle Scholarship in Horticulture


2017 Nathan Jahnke

Nathan Jahnke is a master’s student in floriculture post-harvest handling at North Carolina State University. His research aims to improve the commercial viability of un-rooted Pelargonium cuttings (commonly known as geraniums) during shipment from Central and South America. He is studying the sensitivity of the cuttings to stresses such as temperature, disease, and ethylene. The fungus Botrytis cinerea (a necrotrophic fungus also known as gray mold) is capable of damaging hundreds of plant species. Ethylene gas and ethylene inhibitors are being tested as screening techniques for Botrytis susceptibility and prevention during shipping and storage of Pelargonium cuttings to help growers reduce losses and find new technology that will be more effective and safer for the environment.

2017 Natalie McMann

Natalie McMann is a master’s student in the Integrated Biosciences Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Her project is titled “Vascular Transport Capacity and Floral Water Use.” She aims to understand how physiological limitations may influence flowering time in woody species. Her research will examine trees and shrubs such as red maple and forsythia that flower before they leaf out to determine how the timing of plant emergence from winter dormancy affects water supply to the flowers and the relationship between floral water use and floral size.

2017 John Dindia

John Dindia is a master’s student in the Environmental Studies Graduate Program at the University of Montana with a focus on sustainable food and farming systems. He is working with Michigan State University to develop and convey IPM (integrated pest management) strategies to the rapidly expanding US hop industry. His research will focus on evaluating, identifying, and promoting best IPM strategies for major pests in emerging hop production regions in Michigan. He aims to develop phenology-based arthropod and disease decision aids to assist growers in hop-growing regions with pest management timing decisions.

2017 Jennifer Lauer

Jennifer Lauer is a master’s student in landscape architecture in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York in Syracuse. Her research focuses on the cultural landscape of Rose Hill Farm in Geneva, New York. The site is notable for the development of field-drainage technology, which became a driving force in the economic transition from subsistence to merchant farming in mid-19th-century America. The Geneva Historical Society manages 27 acres of the original 350-acre property, including a Greek Revival mansion built in 1839, which is considered among the finest examples of its style in the nation. She will provide a cultural landscape report to help restore and preserve the site’s important horticultural heritage

2017 Melinda J. Knuth

Melinda J. Knuth is a PhD candidate in horticulture economics at Texas A&M University. Her research will focus on consumer preferences and economic trends in the floriculture industry as well as consumers’ perception of water conservation activities and their willingness to pay for a series of water-conserving plant attributes. She also has developed independent observation studies for floriculture companies, analyzing the cut flower value chain and movement efficiency. She plans to use eye tracking and neurological technology to analyze consumer preference of cut flower attributes to provide consumer data to growers, wholesalers, and retail firms.

2016 Megan Muehlbauer

Megan Muehlbauer is a PhD candidate in the Plant Biology and Pathology Department at Rutgers University.  The focus of her dissertation work is on the development and use of molecular and biochemical tools to assist in improving the breeding of European hazelnuts (Corylus avellana). Upon graduation her goal is to work as a professor/extension specialist and use molecular tools to help farmers grow improved crops.

2016 Josh Henry

Josh Henry is a master’s student at North Carolina State University studying plant nutrition in floriculture crops. His project is looking at the effects of low phosphorus fertilization regiments in greenhouse produced annuals and potted plants. The three main aspects being considered are using low phosphorus rates to control growth in plant growth regulator (PGR) sensitive crops, using low phosphorus rates to enhance anthocyanin production in the foliage of red and purple colored plants, and looking at a newly reported symptom of phosphorus deficiency that occurs in the upper leaves of some flowering crops.

2016 Taliesin J. Kinser

Taliesin J. Kinser is a master's student in the Biology Department at the College of William and Mary. He received a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. His research is the cross pollination of monkey-flowers (Mimulus) to determine how angiosperms form viable hybrid seeds.  He will grow and perform pollination crosses to hybridize monkey-flowers. He is interested in the genetic and morphological drivers during seed development.

2016 Conor Kimball

Conor Kimball is a freshman student studying biology and minoring in entomology at Colorado State University. He is currently working as an intern in Dr. Arathi Seshadri’s pollinator lab in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.  In summer and fall of 2016, he will begin original research on the potential applications of ants and termites in horticultural systems. These social insects are among the most dominant and abundant of life forms throughout earth’s natural ecosystems and yet remain surprisingly underutilized in modern agriculture.

2016 Tony Mayer

Tony Mayer is a master’s student in the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His project is titled, “Environmental education practices for youth through garden-based learning.” He works with numerous student gardens engaging youth through participatory design. His qualitative research examines how working and being in gardens affects teenagers’ worldviews and their relationship with nature.



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.