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GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Garden Club of America Awards for Summer Environmental Studies


2017 Matt Wersebe

Matt Wersebe is a junior majoring in biology with a minor in environmental studies at the State University of New York,
Binghamton. His project is titled “Independent Research of the Longterm Impacts of Antimicrobials on Wetland Communities.” As an assistant to Dr. Jessica Hua of The Hua Lab, he will study the impacts of agricultural contaminants on wetland communities. He will use field research and laboratory techniques to understand the effect of changing patterns of food resource quality elicited by antimicrobials on amphibian-parasite interactions in degraded habitats.
Funded by Piscataqua Garden Club Zone I

2017 Sage Max

Sage Max is a junior studying environmental policy at Barnard College in New York. This summer, her research will take place in Jordan with Columbia’s Summer Ecosystem Experience program to study the effects of animal agriculture across the country. Focusing on the habits of goat herders, she will study the impact of goats in national parks as well as the environmental footprint for eating meat in a nation where water resources are scarce. She will use her research about farming and the environment to understand how environmental questions can help shape environmental policy. She also plans to use this research to complete her senior thesis.
Funded by Amateur Gardeners Club, Zone VI

2017 Sarah Hossain

Sarah Hossain is a junior at the University of Connecticut majoring in environmental science with a minor in ecology and evolutionary biology. Her research, in the Cape Floristic region of South Africa, will focus on the Protea genus. She will collect samples of Protea to create CO2 curves and study the growth of juvenile plants in greenhouse experiments under various controlled CO2 levels and soil moistures. Her experiments will simulate the increased drought conditions of the region to determine the viability of Protea in a changing climate.
Funded by Fairfield Garden Club and Garden Club of Darien

2017 Quentin Hubbard

Quentin Hubbard, a freshman at Rhodes College in Tennessee, is participating in the Rocky Mountain Ecology Field Research summer program in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He will observe the grazing effects of aquatic and riparian foraging by resident ungulate species and their effects on water quality as well as the diversity, abundance, and distribution of aquatic plant species, all of which support life cycle stages of Yellowstone cutthroat trout. His research and analysis will be compiled into a final report.

2017 Ella Matsuda

Ella Matsuda is a sophomore studying ecology and environmental science at Rice University in Texas. Her research in Madagascar investigates the interactions between lemurs, birds, trees, and mistletoe in tropical forests. Her research will illuminate the complex interactions in Malagasy seed dispersal networks, emphasizing the importance of studying the ecological significance of smaller plant and animal species. She will also study the dispersal of small-seeded mistletoe seeds by small mouse lemurs, thereby enabling the survival of mistletoe, which in turn enables the survival of large lemurs who disperse large seeded tree species. Mistletoe, often considered a parasitic plant, may benefit its host plant.

2017 Hannah Gibbs

Hannah Gibbs is a Bonner Scholar sophomore at Centre College in Kentucky. Last summer as a member of a research team she studied the deep-rooted social and cultural ramifications of coal mining. This summer, the research team will focus on the environmental ramifications of coal extraction. Through intensive interviews with eastern Kentucky residents, her research will study its effect on the culture, livelihood, and the economic future of those who live in the Appalachian Mountains.

2017 Ayla Allen

Ayla Allen is a junior in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Program for Environmental Studies at Princeton University. She was accepted to Operation Wallacea, a conservation organization made up of academics conducting environmentally-oriented research. She will study habitat preferences of different primate species in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in Peru. During the rainy season, the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve experiences heavy flooding that affects food availability for primates. Her research will focus on primate responses to extreme variations in rainfall and compare the results with past data to make predictions for the future.

2016 Christine Kim

Christine Kim is a sophomore biology student from the College of William and Mary. She will research milkweed tolerance to herbivory before its health starts to measurably deteriorate. She will use monarch caterpillars as the source of her herbivory. She will determine whether herbivory tolerance changes with the addition of a third factor: mycorrhizal fungi. Her research will be conducted in both greenhouse and lab to determine the relationships between mycorrhizal fungi, milkweed, and monarch caterpillars.

2016 Nick Henshue

Nick Henshue is a PhD candidate in the Ecology & Evolution Department of Rutgers University, New Jersey. He will research whether different earthworm species can be used to remediate polluted industrial sites. He theorizes that those worms most common to the northern United States, although invasive, have the ability to change soil composition in heavy metal polluted sites. Preliminary research suggests that, after being consumed by either the earthworms or the microorganisms they bring along, the remaining pollution still in the soil could become modified chemically to pose less harm to animals and plants in the ecosystem. 

2016 Omanjana Goswami

Omanjana Goswami is a first year PhD candidate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, Newark. She works with the environmental geochemistry group which focuses on studying phosphorus recovery mechanisms from wastewater. She studies the interactions between metal ions and the mineral struvite, which forms when equal amounts of ammonium, magnesium and phosphate are present in wastewater. She will sample wastewater, precipitate struvite from various sources, study metal-mineral interaction as struvite precipitates from wastewater, and characterize the product produced.



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.