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GCA Scholarships Recipients: The Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany


2016 Amy E. Snively-Martinez

Amy E. Snively-Martinez is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Washington State University. Her research will focus on medicinal plants used to treat diabetes in Guatemala and to study local knowledge about the identification and description of herbal preparations most commonly used to treat this disease. Little research has studied the use of medicinal plants by rural indigenous communities in Guatemala to treat diabetes despite its importance as a biodiversity hotspot and high population of indigenous peoples. Research will take place in two regions of Guatemala, a mangrove ecosystem in the Pacific Lowlands and a humid forested ecosystem of the Western Highlands.

2016 Chase Mason

Chase Mason is a PhD and Katharine H. Putnam Fellow in Plant Science at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. An ecophysiologist, his research focuses on the evolution of plant functional traits, plant defenses, and secondary metabolites. He will study the phytochemical diversity across 29 species of wild willows genus (Salix). Salicylates, in the form of willow bark extracts, are among the oldest known plant-derived medicinal compounds and rank among the most consumed medicines globally. This research will characterize variation in secondary metabolites in a cross-section of global willow diversity, with focus on the evolution of salicylates, flavonoids, and other polyphenolic compounds.

2016 Daniella Allevato

Daniella Allevato is a PhD candidate in the Department of Plant Biology at Cornell University. She is researching the evolution of phytochemical diversity in the genus (Pilocarpus) using a combined phylogenetic and environmental analysis. This research will aid in a better understanding of the factors contributing to the metabolite pathways present in (Pilocarpus). As the center of diversity of this genus is in Brazil, this past year she has been collecting species all across Brazil. In collaboration with two professors in Brazil she will continue analysis of alkaloids and coumarins, as well as study the genetic diversity among populations of (Pilocarpus).

2015 Matthew Bond

Matthew Bond is a Ph.D. student in the Botany Department of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.  He will conduct ethno-botanical fieldwork in a less-studied region of the Solomon Islands, North Malaita, to study how the local people select, prepare, and consume plants for medicine. Mathew has made previous visits to build relationships, obtain and apply for permits, and learn local languages. He will be collecting samples and will analyze medicinal plant harvesting practices of traditional healers’ to test if the local people are using the plants and plant parts that are most effective for treating disease. 

2015 Tristesse Burton

Tristesse Burton is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy which is defined as the study of medicines derived from natural sources. She will identify the active compounds of three American Indian plants that can be used to improve women’s health, primarily for menopause, cancer, and inflammation.  Her research project will also verify the traditional and current usage of these plants through ethno-botanical studies.  Currently, there is limited scientific information supporting the use of American Indian botanicals for women’s health. 

2014 Brittany Graf

Brittany Graf, a Rutgers University student, will investigate Ecuadorian food crops to evaluate potential medical or health benefits. She will conduct workshops in four regions of Ecuador in collaboration with a local university professor using 20 undergraduates and advanced high school students at the different sites offereing them research training. 

2014 Natalie Christian

Natalie Christian attends Indiana University. She proposes to harness natural antibiotic properties in single celled fungi that symbiotically live with host plants. These fungi represent some of the most complex and potent chemicals known from plants. Natalie will do her research at a field station in Panama, as the native chocolate tree is a known harborer of various single celled fungi. 

2014 Terry Lopez

Terry Lopez is a University of California, Irvine student. He seeks to identify the mechanism of action and specific compounds of Arctic root (Rhodiola rosea). It is in a class of healing plants that help balance, restore and protect the body from various stress sensibilities. He hopes there will be insights that could have long term health benefits. 

2013 Christopher U. Kitalong

School: City University of New York
Christopher U. Kitalong, a Ph.D. candidate at City University of New York, will research the ethnobotany and pharmacology of Phaleria nisidai, a medicinal plant species used by native Palauans, including those with Type 2 Diabetes or who are obese. He will collaborate with local healers and physicians to organize a study of specific species used to treat diabetes and compare results with patients who use traditional treatments. Positive results from the use of Phaleria nisidai would provide scientific grounding for the use of this native medicine and could motivate further research and funding.

2013 Robbie Hart

School: University of Missouri in St. Louis
Robbie Hart, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, will research the comparative ethnobotany of rhododendrons in Northwest Yunnan, China. The southern Chinese province is a center of rhododendron diversity. Two ethnic groups, one indigenous and one more recently arrived, provide traditional ecological knowledge and illustrate significant intercultural differences. Robbie is testing various assumptions based on information formulated from those considered most knowledgeable as that information is used as a plausible metric for other ethnobotanical studies.



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.