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GCA Scholarships Recipients

 

2024 Keegan Congleton

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: undergraduate, Biology and Botany, Sewanee: The University of the South

Sourwood Persistence in Old Growth Forests on the Cumberland Plateau

Congleton’s work is part of a long-term study of the sprouting and growth habits of sourwood trees.



2024 Megan Gauger

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: undergraduate, Environmental Science, University of Pittsburgh

Integrating Plants and People to Inform Conservation of a Biodiverse Pittsburg-Area Hotspot

Gauger’s survey of plant specimens in the biodiverse Barking Slopes Conservation Area will be shared with the Allegheny Land Trust and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.



2024 Geneva Waynick

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: master’s student, Biology, William & Mary

How Do Nectar Microbes Impact Plant Reproduction?

By investigating the relationships between nectar microbes, plant reproduction, and the pollinators that vector certain nectar microbes, Waynick will promote the conservation of plant-pollinator interactions.



2023 Hannah Machiorlete

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Master’s student, Biology, College of William & Mary

The Impact of Microbial Communities on Nectar Sugar Chemistry and Plant Fitness in Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Machiorlete will look closely at how insects regularly introduce microbes into nectar in common milkweed flowers. After collecting nectar from milkweed plants in Northern Virginia, Machiorlete will use DNA sequencing to characterize sugar chemistry and microbial diversity. Pollen germination tests will quantify the impact of microbial activity in nectar on plant reproduction.


2023 Abraham Stone

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Undergraduate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Michigan Technological University

Plant Survey (Native and Invasive) with Collection on Isle Royale's Volcanic Bedrock Glades

Stone will travel to Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park to survey invasive yellow hawkweeds that are encroaching on the area’s unique bedrock glades. Stone will research how the invasive colonies are altering the floral composition of the endangered ecosystem. Stone will also identify potential hawkweed hybrids for further lab analysis. Collections of new specimens will be prepared for herbarium cataloging.

 


2023 J.T. Michel

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Undergraduate, Biology and Ecology and Biodiversity, Sewanee: The University of the South

Spatial Segregation among Phacelia bipinnatifida Morphotypes in a Southern Appalachian Cove Population

Michel’s plant ecology and genetics research will focus on the rare ecological phenomenon of spatial segregation between two variations of purple phacelia, a biennial wildflower species. Michel will focus on pollinator behavior and genetic analyses to determine the level of gene flow that occurs between the two large, non-overlapping yet adjacent patches of P. bipinnatifida morphotypes. Additional ecological fieldwork will identify why morphological distinctions remain segregated within the wildflower population that can experience gene flow.


2022 John C Kees

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany

A Preliminary Assessment of Calcareous Grasslands in the Jackson Prairie Region

Kees will investigate the distribution and species composition of prairies and other plant communities associated with calcareous outcrops in the Jackson Prairie and related areas of southern Mississippi and Alabama. Kees will map, inventory, and collect voucher specimens and will plot data from sites across the region to develop an improved floristic checklist and community classification.



2022 Riley J Rees

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany

Evolutionary History and Floral Traits of Angiosperms using DNA Sequences

Rees’s project will examine the evolutionary history of petal development within the carnation family by looking at floral traits and comparative DNA analysis. Different pathways utilized for evolving petals will be observed in the early development stages of flowering and will be compared against a reconstructed phylogeny made using DNA sequences.



2022 Julia Huczko

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany

Evaluating the Impact of Key Drivers on Forest Regeneration Following a Windthrow in a Mature Hardwood Forest: On the Relative Importance of Browsers, Logging, and Competition

To better understand the impact of salvage logging, Huczko will catalog plant growth in western Pennsylvania in the wake of a 2012 tornado that damaged the Powdermill Nature Reserve. Huczko will also investigate the spread of invasive species due to deer browsing and interspecific plant competition as well as the effects of both on damaged forest health and forest regeneration. Huczko’s field study will provide specimens to contribute to the herbarium at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.



2021 Ryan James Schmidt

The Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany
School: Undergraduate, Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources Program, Rutgers University

Rediscovering the “Weeds” of New Jersey: Understanding the Distribution of Weedy and Nonnative Species in New Jersey through Specimen Collection

In his research, Schmidt aims to gain insights into the current and past distributions of the “weedy” and non-native plants of New Jersey through the use of recent and historical herbarium records. He will collect new herbarium specimens of many of these under-collected species, present throughout the state of New Jersey along the urban-to-rural gradient, in order to better understand the current impact of these plants and how their distribution has changed over time.

 


 
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Scholarship Opportunities Abound

The Garden Club of America offers 29 merit-based scholarships and fellowships in 12 areas related to conservation, ecology, horticulture, and pollinator research. In 2024, $459,000 was awarded to 100 scholars. Follow GCA Scholarships on Instagram for the latest news about pollinators, coastal wetlands, native bird habitats, and much more. Connect to a larger world of horticulture and conservation through Garden Club of America scholars. Browse the scholarship offerings.

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