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GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany


2018 Anthony Logan Ferrero

Anthony Logan Ferrero is a second-year microbiology major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. This summer he will be studying the mechanism and adaptive significance of nickel hyperaccumulation in Streptanthus polygaloides, a serpentine species endemic to the western Sierra Nevada foothills. He will perform field collections of S. polygaloides (milkwort jewelflower) in its native range, as well as conduct a garden study examining factors affecting nickel hyperaccumulation
in this species, including drought stress and microbial diversity. Results may have implications for the use of hyperaccumulators in phytoremediation, which employs living green plants for decontamination.

2018 Jasen Liu

Jasen Liu is a junior studying biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His project is titled “Ecological Roles of Floral Pigment Variation over Ontogeny.”  is  eld season he will be investigating how pollinator behavior is a ected by changes in petal pigment of elegant Clarkia unguiculata, a California wild ower, as its  owers progress from functionally male to functionally female.  The results of this project will be valuable for deeper understanding of the intricate mechanisms that plants utilize to communicate with their pollinators and ensure successful reproduction.

Funded by Friends and Colleagues of Nishi Rajakaruna

2017 Mary Elizabeth Patterson

Mary Elizabeth Patterson is a master’s student in plant biology and conservation at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her project is titled “Monitoring Protocol for Packeria layneae: a Federally Threatened Species.” Her fieldwork will focus on developing a long-term monitoring protocol for Packeria layneae, also known as Layne’s ragwort or Layne’s butterweed, a threatened species endemic to California. Creating a monitoring protocol is the first step to stabilizing threatened and endangered species populations. Tahoe National Forest botanists and other managers of P. layneae will use the protocol to monitor the species’ long-term demographics.
Funded by Friends of Nishi Rajakaruna in honor of Nishanta Rajakaruna

2016 Alyssa Albertson

Alyssa Albertson is a master’s student in Botany at Colorado State University. Her fieldwork will focus on plant-fungal interactions. She will collect (Pinus aristata) bristlecone pine needles from several locations in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Her research will analyze the fungal endophytes present in the pine needles and determine whether endophyte communities vary between bristlecones that are partially resistant or fully susceptible to the pathogen White Pine Blister Rust.

2015 Ian D. Medeiros

Ian D. Medeiros is a junior at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, majoring in Human Ecology with a concentration in Botany. This summer he will survey the plants and lichens found on outcrops of serpentine bedrock in western Massachusetts. Serpentine is a unique rock that often produces soils which are chemically stressful for plants. It has been studied extensively in California and moderately in Maine and Vermont however, there are no published biological studies of serpentine outcrops in Massachusetts. This research project will serve as his undergraduate senior thesis.

2014 Paul Laurent Excoffier

Paul Laurent Excoffier is a senior in Plant Ecology at College of the Atlantic. He will do the first ever study in the Northeast of the distribution and diversity of bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, hornworts) in 10 vernal (seasonal) pools on Mount Desert Island, ME. Half of these rain-fed pools will be located within an area burned in 1947 and soil samples will be taken in and around all pools to assess patterns of bryophyte diversity. He will share his findings with Acadia National Park personnel. 

2013 Kevin James Wolz

School: University of Illinois
Kevin James Wolz, a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will do a botanical survey of a remnant oak savannah at Tomlinson Nature Preserve, Illinois, and monitor the site’s rare American hazelnut population, using time-lapse photography. Analysis of the photos will support his plant inventory and he will make a video to be used as a teaching tool.

2012 Rylan Nocona Sprague

School: Black Hills State University
A senior at Black Hills State University, will help revise a taxonomic key to vascular plants of South Dakota by documenting 1,500 plant collections from areas near the Black Hills which were under-represented in an earlier edition. He will be working as a botany trainee with the Forest Service Student Career Experience Program.

2011 Maria Williams

"Graduate student at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, will conduct research at the universitys herbarium, where she will complete a botanical inventory of Cats-eye associates."

2010 Yuliya Labko

School: Rider University - Sophomore with a concentration in Biology
Yuliya is studying population dynamics of invasive species and preservation of local forests.



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.