Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program

National Science Foundation REU Program
Tree Science in the Anthropocene

Content Detail

Experience careers that explore solutions for climate change, biodiversity loss, natural resources management, and urban life through the National Science Foundation REU Program: Tree Science in the Anthropocene.

The era of unprecedented transformation of the biosphere due to human activities is termed the Anthropocene and calls for directly addressing the ecological and environmental challenges of the present and near future.  The REU at The Morton Arboretum uses trees as model systems to investigate questions related to evolution, ecology, conservation, and management in natural and built environments. 2022 REU students will participate in one of these research projects.

 

The Center for Tree Science 10-week summer program has trained 50 students over the past seven years from 37 universities across the United States.” Feedback from past students:

  • “It gave me a reference that allowed me to get into grad school and do the research that I really want to do!”
  • “Keep this up! It was a very important experience for me early in my career and is still one of my favorite jobs that I have ever had.”
  • “My REU experience has strongly impacted my career path. It has opened me up to and enhanced my true interests.”
  • “Enjoy what it feels like to be dedicated to and focus your energy on one project that you’re passionate about. You will love the experience and the people around you.”

Students currently enrolled in an undergraduate program may apply for this nationally competitive fellowship.

Participate in a paid, intensive, 10-week summer program, with housing and travel provided, conducting an independent research project under the guidance of a PhD-level mentor. Gain direct experience on all aspects of a research project, from reading the primary literature, experimental design, collecting and analyzing data, to presenting the results at a final symposium. Develop critical thinking, independence, self-confidence, perseverance, and collaborative skills. Interact with REUs from other Chicago institutions, and benefit from workshops on science communication and professional development. Learn skills you can apply anywhere. The Center for Tree Science also offers opportunities to return to continue your work.

Learn more about potential 2022 projects >

10-week research program includes:

  • $6,000 stipend.
  • Housing, research supplies, and travel.
  • Workshops in science communication, ethics, and project management.

Research areas:

  • Evolutionary biology
  • Forest ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Urban forestry and tree care
  • Computer modeling
  • Engineering solutions

Learn more:

  • Present your research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • Work on unique projects.
  • Meet new people and grow your network.

The REU program includes a stipend, covers housing and travel expenses, and runs from May 31 to August 5, 2022. Applications due February 4, 2022.

Our mentorship program seeks diverse viewpoints as we foster and grow a vibrant, innovative scientific community. REU participants will be incorporated into Arboretum research laboratories for the summer and work collaboratively. It is important that this community be inclusive so participants can contribute their best ideas and efforts and achieve their full potential. We value your energy, interest, and expertise, and encourage applicants from colleges and universities with limited research opportunities, groups underrepresented in STEM programs, and first-year and second-year undergraduates. All applicants are guaranteed equal consideration for employment.

Eligibility

To apply for the 10-week research experience program, which includes a $6,000 stipend and covers housing and travel expenses, students participating in the National Science Foundation-supported REU program must be:

  1. Citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions.
  2. Currently-enrolled undergraduate students.
    • Students between high school and undergraduate are NOT eligible to apply.
    • Must NOT graduate before fall 2022.
    • Graduating seniors or recent graduates are not eligible to apply.
    • Students who are transferring from one college or university to another. and are enrolled at neither institution during the intervening summer are eligible to participate.
  3. Able to participate from May 31 to August 5, 2022.

Application Requirements for the 2022 REU Program

To apply, please review the following instructions and complete these four required steps by the application deadline, February 4, 2022:

  1. Complete the online application. A cover letter and resume are not required.
  2. Complete the applicant questionnaire and personal statement, which will be sent to the email address you provide in the online application. Fill this out completely and submit by the application deadline (February 4, 2022). You will select up to three projects that interest you, have a chance to tell us about yourself and your interests, and provide reference information. We suggest dedicating time to this form instead of a cover letter and resume.
  3. A reference form must be completed by the individual you list as a reference on your questionnaire and personal statement form. We will email them an online link for submission after you submit your form, and you will be notified when we have received the recommendation. This person has until February 15, 2022, to submit the short, 5-10 minute form. The reference will provide information regarding your potential benefit from participating in this specific program, and an evaluation of your motivation to benefit from this program.
  4. Email your unofficial college/university transcripts to ctsreu@mortonarb.org by February 4, 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the application deadline?
A: We will accept applications through midnight Central Standard Time February 4, 2022. Only completed applications will be considered. Please provide the person completing the recommendation with enough time (a minimum of ten days) to complete a short survey, which is due by February 11, 2022. Please choose someone who is familiar with your skills, traits, and motivation and discuss your goals with this person. All materials must be submitted by the deadline.

Q: How can I improve my application?
A: Ensure that all elements of the application are complete and carefully proofread. Answer all questions thoroughly. Whether you have past research experience or not, highlight assets that you feel demonstrate your potential and clearly articulate how an REU experience at The Morton Arboretum would fit into your larger academic and professional goals.

Q: What do you look for in an intern?
A: Applicants are matched to projects based upon interests, personal background, and enthusiasm. Other factors will also be considered such as relevant coursework and experiences. A subset of applicants will be interviewed by phone, email, or video.

Q: Is there a stipend?
A: Yes, students with NSF-funded REU internships will receive a stipend of $6,000.

Q: What are the start and end dates of the program?
A: The exact dates change from year to year but our program runs May 31, 2022 to August 5, 2022. TBD

Q: How binding is acceptance to the program?
A: If you are offered an internship, you will have a set amount of time to respond. We expect you to join the program if you formally accept an offer.

Q: My classes end after the program starts. Can I still apply?
A: This situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and depends on a number of factors. We encourage you to apply if you anticipate a potential scheduling conflict that is out of your hands (e.g., your finals week coincides with the beginning of our program). Note your conflict during the application process and if you are offered an internship, we will discuss potential ways to accommodate the situation.

Q: How will I get there?
A: The program will cover costs for participant travel to and from their home to the housing provided.

Q: Where will I live?
A: Housing for the duration of the program will be provided at a local college dorm and extended-stay hotel. Funding will be provided for any relevant and/or necessary costs associated with housing and commuting incurred during the program. We will work with the local college to ensure housing follows CDC guidelines.

Q: What are some expectations outside of my research experience?
A: An important component of the REU program is the cohort experience and we will host activities to nurture this experience. For this reason all attendees will be expected to participate in as many group activities as they can. The nature of these activities will depend on current COVID restrictions.

Please contact ctsreu@mortonarb.org with questions.

The Center for Tree Science REU program offers a wide range of research experiences in evolutionary biology, forest ecology, conservation biology, urban forestry and tree care, computer modeling, and engineering solutions. Undergraduates applying for the 2022 program will have a chance to select and rank their top three projects from the list below.

Project List

  • Assessing the genetic diversity in seedlings of threatened tree species
  • Better use of quantitative data within endangered species recovery plans
  • Computational simulations to improve conservation strategies
  • How do tree roots, symbiotic fungi, and free-living soil microbes contribute to soil respiration?
  • How do trees alter decomposition in their soils?
  • Investigating oak decline using the Arboretum collection
  • Modeling species distributions to help make conservation decisions
  • Natural variation in shinnery oaks (Quercus havardii) and their hybrids
  • Pesticide chemistry dynamics in woody plants
  • Species of the sugar maple group: taxonomy and distributions
  • Tree health implications of long-term strategies to treat Emerald Ash Borer: Long-term effects on tree injections and tree tissue
  • Tree root exudate production and consequences for soil nutrient cycles

Project Descriptions

Assessing the genetic diversity in seedlings of threatened tree species

Mentors: Sean Hoban, Emily Schumacher

Summary: Our lab works with numerous threatened tree species, many of which are grown in botanic gardens or nurseries with the future purpose of being used in conservation and restoration. These seedlings must retain the genetic diversity of the species, and have high genetic health and resilience. We assess this with DNA analysis, as in this paper. The student will develop precise hypotheses with the mentors, learn or refine their laboratory skills, extract DNA from plant tissue, perform PCR, analyze DNA, and manage data.

Preferred Qualifications: Prior laboratory experience in some capacity is highly preferred, and molecular or cellular experience is preferred. Coursework in genetics as well as general biology and evolution is recommended though not required. Ability to handle delicate equipment, work with a high degree of precision and accuracy, take careful notes, ask questions, and perform repetitive tasks, is necessary.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum, with lab component

 

Better use of quantitative data within endangered species recovery plans

Mentors: Sean Hoban, Emily Schumacher

Summary: One area our lab works in is conservation policy. Species recovery plans are an important tool for conservation policy and action, but they vary in length and detail.  We aim to extract quantitative information on population sizes and trends for different taxa. We would like to work with one or two students on this project. The students will develop precise hypotheses with the mentors, examine dozens of species recovery plans, compile the data, and analyze and interpret it in a context of species resilience.  Students will also receive a guided set of readings and discussions on the topic, and networking with policy experts.

Preferred Qualifications: No experience necessary but coursework, background or strong interest in ecology, policy, or management will be helpful. Ability to read for several hours a day, take careful notes, compile spreadsheets, and ask questions is necessary. A similar project can be found here.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum

 

Computational simulations to improve conservation strategies

Mentors: Sean Hoban, Emily Schumacher

Summary: Our lab has performed numerous experiments using computational approaches, especially to improve how we conserve and manage threatened plants in botanic gardens and seed banks (e.g. here). We have also assessed seed bank data and geospatial locations of populations. This line of work aims to make conservation more effective and efficient, involves interesting computation problems, and will lead to applied recommendations for conservation. A 2020 student produced this paper under this category. This project would be for a highly self-motivated, creative and curious student who would work with the mentor to design a study question, simulate or compile appropriate data under different conditions, and test hypotheses.

Preferred Qualifications: Strong coursework—with multiple courses and preferably directed towards a Major or Minor degree—in computational biology, computer science, or geographic information systems (either is ok) is highly preferred. Coding experience in R and preferably another language, ability to take careful notes and comment code, and a very good ability to communicate with a mentor, is necessary.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum

 

How do tree roots, symbiotic fungi, and free-living soil microbes contribute to soil respiration?

Mentor: Luke McCormack

Summary: Soil respiration is a highly dynamic process where organic materials are consumed to supply energy to living organisms and carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere. All living organisms in soil contribute to the total soil respiration, yet, the separate amounts contributed from roots, root-associated symbiotic fungi, and free-living microbes are difficult to determine. Further, how contributions from each group changes throughout the year, and especially during the growing season are largely unknown. In this project, students will utilize advanced tools and a unique experimental setup in The Morton Arboretum Forestry Plots to measure different components of soil respiration across time.

Preferred Qualifications: Must be interested in plant and/or soil ecology and have completed at least one college-level course relevant to the study of plants. Students must also be willing to discuss and develop research questions, conduct fieldwork and laboratory analyses, and perform statistical analysis with data interpretation.

  • Coursework/background: introductory biology; ecology or geography course preferred.
  • Ability to work in both field (hot, humid, rain, insects) and lab (standing/sitting for prolonged periods) settings.
  • Bonus points: experience with roots, soils, ecophysiology, data analysis, research in general.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum, with lab and field components

 

How do trees alter decomposition in their soils?

Mentor: Luke McCormack

Summary: Temperature and moisture are major drivers of litter decomposition at global scales. While still important at local scales, there is now mounting evidence that decomposition rates vary dramatically over short distances despite similarities in soil temperature and moisture. High variability in decomposition at small scales is controlled by many factors including soil properties and microbial communities. Further, the plants that dominate an area can also impact decomposition directly and indirectly by altering soil properties and microbial communities. The interacting nature of different abiotic and biotic drivers of decomposition often make it difficult to disentangle the importance of each. Utilizing a series of forestry plots at The Morton Arboretum, students will establish decomposition trials using an internationally standardized litter to assess how decomposition rates vary among plots due to local drivers as well as how decomposition at The Morton Arboretum compares to global decomposition rates.

Preferred Qualifications: Must be interested in plant and/or soil ecology and have completed at least one college-level course relevant to the study of plants. Students must also be willing to discuss and develop research questions, conduct fieldwork and laboratory analyses, and perform statistical analysis with data interpretation.

  • Coursework/background: introductory biology; ecology or geography course preferred
  • Ability to work in both field (hot, humid, rain, insects) and lab (standing/sitting for prolonged periods) settings
  • Bonus points: experience with roots, soils, ecophysiology, data analysis, research in general

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum, with lab and field components

 

Investigating oak decline using the Arboretum collection

Mentors: Stephanie Adams, Christy Rollinson, Lucien Fitzpatrick

Summary: Oaks across much of the US are facing many challenges, including climate change, habitat loss, and diseases. In the Midwest, oaks are declining in both our natural and urban areas and the causes and timeline of decline remain unclear. This project is a collaboration between the Forest Ecology and Plant Health Care teams to investigate oak decline using samples from trees that were removed from the Arboretum over the past several years, looking to characterize the patterns of decline. An REU student will help prep the sample backlog, measure growth from the annual rings, and learn to analyze the patterns to characterize oak decline. Opportunities will be available to assess living trees and learn about treatments for various pests and disease.

Preferred Qualifications: No experience necessary but coursework, background or strong interest in ecology, conservation, forest ecology, or pests and diseases preferred. Willingness to learn new skills is necessary. Comfort using power tools and proper use of PPE is required.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum, with lab and outdoor components

 

Modeling species distributions to help make conservation decisions

Mentors: Sean Hoban, Emily Schumacher

Summary: Conservation strategies largely rely on identifying units to protect organisms, and one way to do this is modeling ecological niches of rare and threatened species. Our lab is interested in using species distribution modeling to identify unique areas and/or lineages for improved protection of species.

Preferred Qualifications: This project would be for an independent and self-motivated student with preliminary coursework and experience in geographic information systems or geographic mapping – either a geography major/minor or coursework surrounding biogeography – is highly preferred. It will require a lot of independent data exploration, but also creativity in project design and ability to form a research question. Good communication skills, note taking abilities, and willingness to learn is required.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum

 

Natural variation in shinnery oaks (Quercus havardii) and their hybrids

Mentor: Chuck Cannon

Summary: The shinnery oak (Quercus havardii) is an endangered species adapted to semi-arid sandy soils in southwestern USA. This species is unusual because it forms large clonal groves that spread through the sandy soils, playing an important role in stabilizing the land and creating extensive below ground biomass. In the rolling hills and plains region of Texas, these trees also hybridize extensively with 3-4 other oak species, resulting in a remarkable diversity of leaf and growth forms. Using a combination of remote sensing, drone monitoring, and field surveys, the student will work with a small team to document the landscape distribution of this diversity, in both morphology and genetics, and help establish long-term monitoring protocols.

Preferred qualifications: Willingness to learn a variety of techniques, including botanical specimen collection and analysis, basics of genetic analysis, and remote sensing techniques, including the use of drone surveillance.

Project setting: Primarily at the Morton Arboretum but including a two week field trip to properties near Spur, Texas to collect samples, map populations, and fly the drone. The field trip could involve sleeping some nights in a tent and working outside for long hours in dry and hot conditions.

 

Pesticide chemistry dynamics in woody plants

Mentor: Chad Rigsby

Summary: Pesticide dynamics is an under-explored area of woody plant biology, with only a few studies addressing questions centered on residuals, timing and type of application, and dispersal in woody plants. This type of information is extraordinarily valuable in understanding pesticide efficacy and environmental risks. The student will be involved in several projects requiring the quantification of a variety of pesticides in plant tissue from treated trees and other woody plants via high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with diode array or fluorescence detection. Examples of currently underway projects include the translocation of avermectin pesticide, diamide and neonicotinoid insecticide, and azole fungicide translocation and residuals in trees and shrubs. In addition to the involvement in these projects, the possibility exists for this student to design and implement their own research project centered on pesticide dynamics in woody plants.

Preferred qualifications: Students interested in plant biology and/or chemistry are encouraged to apply. Ideally, coursework in plant physiology/biochemistry and/or organic chemistry will have been completed. Some level of experience with analytical instrumentation used in chemistry (e.g., gas or liquid chromatography) is a bonus.

Project setting: Primarily laboratory-based at The Morton Arboretum. Some opportunities for outdoor field work (e.g., sample collection) on the grounds of The Morton Arboretum, in the Chicagoland area, or in the Midwest.

 

Species of the sugar maple group: taxonomy and distributions

Mentors: Richard Condit, Andrew Hipp, William Finch, Brian Keener, Senna Robeson

Summary: We propose a detailed taxonomic assessment of the sugar maple (Acer saccharum and relatives) in North America, engaging an REU student to focus on morphology of the southern taxa. Besides the well-known and widespread northern sugar maple, the black maple, chalk maple, Florida maple, plus another variety known as A. saccharum var. schneckii, are close relatives with confusing taxonomy (A. Weakely, Flora of the Southeast, is the most recent source). Robeson has completed a morphometric assessment of sugar maple and black maple, and we propose to extend this by adding the other three taxa. This project will allow an undergraduate student to 1) assemble digital herbarium specimens (8 weeks), and 2) collect field specimens in Alabama (2 weeks), where the three taxa overlap. Under the guidance of Condit, Hipp, and Robeson at The Morton Arboretum, the student will assemble 100 digital herbarium specimens per taxon, collect detailed morphometrics of leaves and seeds, and record flowering and fruiting dates whenever possible. Subsequently, at the Paint Rock Forest in Alabama, the student will collect live leaf specimens along a 100-m elevational gradient from stream valley to ridge top, with the assistance of Finch and Keener. Morphological clustering of herbarium records will test the consistency of the current taxonomic designations, while the field work will provide evidence on environmental variation plus offer guidance on identifying local diversity in the tree plot. The student will finish by writing a report on the specimens collected and their morphometry, after which supervising scientists will create taxonomic hypotheses based on the morphological clusters. Those hypotheses will provide a basis for future genetic work aimed to solidify the taxonomic entities and define ranges of the sugar maples in eastern North America and Mexico, and will offer training to a young scientist who might pursue a career in environmental science.

Preferred Qualifications: University botany class, some experience with herbarium specimens.

Project setting: Paint Rock Forest in Alabama, The Morton Arboretum herbarium

 

Tree health implications of long-term strategies to treat emerald ash borer: Long-term effects on tree injections and tree tissue

Mentor: Jake Miesbauer

Summary: Emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis), is an exotic beetle that has devastated ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) throughout much of North America. To date, hundreds of millions of ash trees have been killed by EAB with an estimated 8 billion additional trees still in harm’s way (McCullough, 2013) and long-term potential economic impact of tens of billions of dollars (Kovacs et al., 2010; Hauer and Peterson, 2017). However, research pioneered in the mid- to late 2000’s resulted in the development of effective injection treatments for EAB control (Herms and McCullough, 2014). This project will determine the long-term effects to trees from repeated trunk injection to prevent EAB mortality. The primary questions we are asking are: Does repeated treatment through injections ultimately lead to trees that are unable to effectively take up chemicals due to internal damage and/or wounding from repeated treatments? Further, do these treatments lead to enhanced decay in trees, increasing their tree risk for lower stem or root failure? Observations of bark cracking and discoloration around injection sites have been reported, but not quantified in a scientific manner. This is especially true of trees that have been repeatedly treated over long periods of time. Linking these external indicators (e.g., bark splitting, lack of wound closure, weeping wound sites) to internal damage (e.g., cross-sectional and longitudinal tree dissection), will aid urban tree managers in balancing the risk and rewards of long-term EAB management via injection. For this project, the candidate will work with a team to collect, dissect, and prepare samples from harvested trees from the study site. They will then work with the team to quantify tree response to treatments, analyze data, and report the results.

Preferred qualifications: Qualified candidates should have completed coursework in one or more of the following: tree biology, urban forestry, arboriculture, and/or entomology. They should also have a demonstrated record of working independently, as well as part of a team.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum, possible trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

Tree root exudate production and consequences for soil nutrient cycles

Mentor: Meghan Midgley

Summary: Soil is, quite simply, amazing. It’s teaming with biodiversity, contains massive amounts of carbon, and provides nutrition to plants. These features, however, are not spread uniformly throughout soil. Most of the action is concentrated in the rhizosphere – a thin layer of soil surrounding plant roots. Root exudates – carbon substances produced by roots –  link carbon production aboveground to nutrient uptake belowground and fuel activity in the rhizosphere. Additionally, the amount and type of root exudates vary among tree species, ultimately leading to differences in the properties and functions of soils beneath different types of trees. In this project, work with a team to measure root exudates from a variety of tree species and link exudation rates to soil nitrogen cycling and carbon storage. Gain hands-on experience excavating tree roots and collecting exudates, characterizing the root traits of several tree species, and measuring soil biological, chemical, and physical properties in the lab.

Preferred qualifications: The applicant should have a strong interest in soil and plants.  Applicants should be comfortable working outdoors in summer weather. Patience, attention to detail, organization, and the ability to work independently as well as part of a team are also critical for a successful project both in the field and lab. The student must also be willing to discuss and develop research questions, conduct fieldwork and laboratory analyses, and perform statistical analysis with data interpretation.

Project setting: The Morton Arboretum, with laboratory and field components

Meet the Center for Tree Science undergraduate research program participants and learn more about their projects and experiences at The Morton Arboretum.

2020 Undergraduate Researchers

Major funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and Morton Salt; additional funding is noted below.

Theodore James Bohdanowycz
Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan
“U.S. Wild Harvested Tree Species: A Conservation Snapshot.”
Advisors: Dr. Jessica Turner-Skoff, Dr. Murphy Westwood, and Christina Carrero
Symposium presentation

Andrew Ernat
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
“Exploring Remotely Sensed Data as an Indicator of Phenological Sensitivity in Oaks.”
Advisors: Dr. Christy Rollinson and Lucien Fitzpatrick
Symposium presentation

Maddie Fernandez-Laris
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
Exploring Barriers to Recruitment of Transplanted Seedlings of the Endangered Quercus Brandegeei
Advisor: Dr. Silvia Alvarez Clare
Symposium presentation

Janey R. Lienau
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois
“The Effects of Forest Type on Ground Beetle Abundance and Diversity.”
Advisors: Dr. Meghan Midgley and Dr. Rob Buchkowski
Symposium presentation

Katelyn McBride
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
“Sap flow variation in response to environmental factors in American sycamores.”
Advisors: Dr. Chuck Cannon and Samantha Panock
Symposium Presentation

Tanya R. Perez
The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
“Tree Growth in Response to Slope in a Highway Setting.”
Advisors: Dr. Jake Miesbauer and Dr. Allyson Salisbury

Kaylee J. Rosenberger
Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
“Sampling to Capture the Most Genetic Diversity when Population Sizes Vary in a Rare Species.”
Advisors: Dr. Sean Hoban and Emily Schumacher
Symposium presentation

Pranav Sai
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Processing and Analyzing LiDAR Scans of Trees
Advisors: Dr. Chuck Cannon and Colby Borchetta

Leslie M. Vargas
The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee
“Early Detection and Rapid Response: Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) Monitoring.”
Advisors: Dr. Chai-Shian Kua, Tricia Bethke, and Dr. Chuck Cannon
Funding provided by: Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program and Morton Salt
Symposium presentation

2019 Undergraduate Researchers

Major funding was provided by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and Morton Salt; other funding sources are noted below.

Andrew Archundia
Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois
Title: Tree Physiology and Soil Amendments in Highway Environments
Advisors: Drs. Jake Miesbauer and Allyson Salisbury

Alice Bieda
Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota
Title: Investigating Phylogenetic Trends in Vole Herbivory Patterns on Tallgrass Prairie Species
Advisors: Dr. Andrew Hipp and Marlene Hahn
Funding provided by: National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates supplemental funding.

Mariah Casmey
Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota
Title: Using Open Source Data to Identify Conservation Priorities at Large Spatial Scales
Advisors: Dr. Murphy Westwood, Christina Carrero, and Emily Beckman

Perry Giambuzzi
University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Title: Comparison of wood growth sensitivity to timing of optimal temperatures among trees varying in xylem anatomy and mycorrhizal association
Advisor: Dr. Christy Rollinson

Sydney Kaplan
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois
Title: “Drones for Tree Science: Multi-sensor 3D modeling and Precise Canopy Sampling.”
Advisors: Drs. Chuck Cannon and Matthew Spenko

Gabriela Krochmal
Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Title: “Tree Growth Responses to Chronic Fertilization in a Lowland Tropical Rainforest.”
Advisors: Drs. Silvia Alvarez Clare and Richard Condit

Jessica Langguth
Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Title: “Fine-root Functional Traits Across the Gymnosperm Phylogeny.”
Advisor: Dr. Luke McCormack

Jamilys Rivera
University of Puerto Rico, Humacao, Puerto Rico
Title: “Comparison of Growth and Recovery in Response to Drought Stress Across Wood Types.”
Advisor: Dr. Christy Rollinson

Ella Segal
Rice University, Houston, Texas
Title: “The Impacts of Fine Root Mass and Soil Nitrogen Availability on Nitrogen Uptake Rate in Trees.”
Advisors: Drs. Meghan Midgley and Ray Dybzinski

2019 Undergraduate Research Program Participants

Bailie (Fredlock) Munoz, Research Technician Fellow (RTF)
Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois
Title: “Botanic garden populations of Quercus havardii: are we conserving enough genetic diversity?”
Advisor: Dr. Sean Hoban
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

2018 Undergraduate Researchers

The Arboretum is thankful to Morton Salt for their generous contribution to the 2018 undergraduate research program; additional funding is noted below.

Alyssa L. Barrantes-Leonard

Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois
Title: Species richness protects prairie species from vole herbivory
Advisors: Dr. Andrew Hipp and Mary-Claire Glasenhardt
Funding provided by: National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates supplemental funding.

Cori L. Butkiewicz
University of Maryland – College Park, College Park, Maryland
Title: Forests on the Edge: Climate, soil, and fire on the prairie-forest boundary
Advisor: Dr. Christy Rollinson
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science

Elizabeth M. Gibbons
Michigan State, East Lansing, Michigan
Title: A Phylogenetic Analysis of Biodiversity in an Oak Dominated Forest of the Chicago Region
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science

Lydia Schlaefke

Michigan State, East Lansing, Michigan
Title: Root regeneration after fall and spring root severance of two common urban tree species, Acer platanoides and Betula nigra
Advisor: Dr. Gary Watson
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science

Rachel S. Sims
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana
Title: Leaf habit versus mycorrhizal fungi association: A framework for predicting tree species effects on soil
Advisor: Dr. Meghan Midgley
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science

Ashley A. Wojciechowski
North Central College, Naperville, Illinois
Title: Foliar Nutrient Concentrations of Understory Plants in a Chronically Fertilized Lowland Tropical Wet Forest in Costa Rica
Advisor: Dr. Silvia Alvarez Clare
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science

2018 Undergraduate Research Program Participants

Alice Bieda
Downers Grove North High School graduate, Downers Grove, Illinois
Project: Species richness protects prairie species from vole herbivory
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp and Mary-Claire Glasenhardt

Marion Deal
Downers Grove North High School graduate, Downers Grove, Illinois
Project: Species richness protects prairie species from vole herbivory
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp and Mary-Claire Glasenhardt

Amayrani Sanchez
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, Illinois
Project: Foliar Nutrient Concentrations of Understory Plants in a Chronically Fertilized Lowland Tropical Wet Forest in Costa Rica
Advisor: Dr. Silvia Alvarez Clare

Mary Ashley Tenedor
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, Illinois
Project: Foliar Nutrient Concentrations of Understory Plants in a Chronically Fertilized Lowland Tropical Wet Forest in Costa Rica
Advisor: Dr. Silvia Alvarez Clare

2017 Undergraduate Researchers

Our thanks to Morton Salt for their generous contribution to the 2017 undergraduate research program; other funding as noted.

Amy Byrne
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
Title: Diversity mechanisms shape first-year survivorship in a phylogenetic and functional diversity prairie restoration experiment
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp
Funding provided by: National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates supplemental funding

Sara Desmond
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
Title:  Latitude predicts leaf size in bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Alyssa Gao
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Title: Examining the Effects of Bacterial Leaf Scorch on the Leaves of Quercus mongolica trees within The Morton Arboretum Collection
Advisor: Dr. Chuck Cannon
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science

Taskeen Khan
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
Title: The Impact of Injury on Sap Flow in Quercus palustris
Advisor: Dr. Chuck Cannon
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science
Blog posts

Sierra Lopezalles
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
Title: Effects of prescribed burn regime on the growth of mature trees in Midwest oak forests
Advisor: Dr. Christy Rollinson
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science

Kathryn (Katie) McGee
James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Title: The Effect of Prescribed Fire Regimes on Seedling Regeneration and Nitrogen Dynamics in an Oak Forest
Advisor: Dr. Silvia Alvarez Clare
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science
Blog posts

Samantha Panock
Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Title: Uncovering belowground properties of urban forests: The relationship between root systems, soil characteristics, and fungal communities in deciduous and evergreen trees at The Morton Arboretum
Advisor: Dr. Meghan Midgley
Funding provided by: Morton Salt and Center for Tree Science
Blog posts

2016 Undergraduate Researchers

Mackenzie Coden
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Title: Testing protocols for preserving oak leaf tissue and extracting DNA for use in oak conservation genetic studies
Advisor: Dr. Sean Hoban
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Alison McGarigal
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Title: Comparing the Efficiency and Accuracy of a Digital Photography and Laser-Based Technique in Conducting Forest Surveys
Advisor: Dr. Chuck Cannon
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Quinn Taylor
University of San Diego, San Diego, California
Title: Burn Forest Burn: Effects of Annual Burning of Forest Soils
Advisor: Dr. Meghan Midgley
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Kirsten Triller
University of Northwestern-St. Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota
Title: Environmental impact and influence on urban tree health of biochar and biosolids
Advisor: Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Kasey Pham
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Title: A time and place for everything: The shifting predictors of genetic diversity in the oak chloroplast
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp
Funding provided by: National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates supplemental funding
Kasey’s summer research experience

2015 Undergraduate Researchers

2015 Participant Blog Posts

Mary Babiez
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
Title: The correlation between basal isoprene emissions and climate of the native range within oak species
Advisor: Dr. Mark Potosnak
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Bruce Jake Berger
University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
Title: Isolating the invasive mechanisms of non-native canopy trees on white oak and sugar maple seedling growth
Advisor: Dr. Robert Fahey
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Jacob Cerminar
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Title: Biosolids and biochars initial effects on environmental quality in urban soil
Advisor: Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Angélica Bannwart Lopes
West Virginia University & Universidade Federal de Viçosa – Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Title: Testing the accuracy of imaging software to measure tree root volumes
Advisor: Dr. Jason Miesbauer
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

Erin Pfarr
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Title: Genome sizing of wild collected weigela and weigela cultivars
Advisor: Joseph Rothleutner
Funding provided by: The Daniel P. Haerther Charitable Trust

Nick Steichmann
Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois
Title: Hybridization across the Bur Oak Range
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp
Funding provided by: National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates

2014 Undergraduate Researchers

2014 Participant Blog Posts

Breane Budaitis
Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio
Title: Inferring the history of morphological diversification in sedges
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp
Interns: Alexa Cotton and Kasey Pham

Elizabeth (‘Liz’) Carter

DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
Title: Do oak species that are genetically associated with warmer climatic niches have greater isoprene emission rates?
Advisor: Dr. Mark Potosnak

Erik Desotelle
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Title: Assessing performance of volunteers to monitor the urban forest
Advisors: Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch & Dr. Lara Roman

Christina Fites
Indiana University – South Bend, South Bend, Indiana
Title: Carbon storage and dynamics of The Morton Arboretum
Advisor: Emma Bialecki

Stuart Hupp
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
Title: Oak seedling survival and growth in relation to canopy structure and understory competition
Advisor: Dr. Robert Fahey

Kathrine Klaus
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
Title: Towards a sustainable designer urban soil for trees
Advisors: Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch and Michelle Catania

Brian Maule
Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
Title: Effects of urban trees and green infrastructure on water quality and runoff
Advisor: Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch

Felipe Santich
University of California – Davis, Davis, California
Title: Assessing the use of morphological characteristics to predict branch attachment strength
Advisor: Dr. Jason Miesbauer

Find out what past Center for Tree Science Undergraduate Researchers have been doing since their time at The Morton Arboretum.

Fall 2020 Update – Summer URF/REU Participants

Erik O. Desotelle (2014) graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a degree in Urban Forestry. He now works in Wholesale Sales at Johnson’s Nursery in Menomonee Falls, while teaching at Gateway Technical College in their Horticulture Program for Trees, Shrubs, and Evergreens. With the insight and experience provided from past and current co-workers, Erik is developing a plant resource for homeowners and contractors in Wisconsin. You can view his work here. He is also doing presentations with community groups like the Wild Ones, WI Master Gardeners, and the Milwaukee Art Museum Garden Club. Erik truly enjoys sharing his knowledge with the general public and finds it helps people get into plants.

Kathrine (Katie) Klaus (2014) graduated in May 2020 with a JD from Vermont Law School and a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment. She took the bar exam over the summer and was sworn in as an attorney, recently joined a law firm. After her time at the Arboretum, Katie interned with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, and an environmental nonprofit called Save the Sound. She was a clinician at the Yale Law School Environmental Protection Clinic, where she completed a project for a client, the Natural Resources Defense Council. Katie was published in the Vermont Law Review and the Yale Environment Review.

Mary Jordan Babiez (2015) completed a master’s degree from Rutgers in 2018 in Plant Biology, specializing in Plant Pathology. During that time, she worked in the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Lab and is now an arborist with SavATree.  She recently got engaged to her boyfriend, who worked on similar research (isoprene levels in oaks) with her at the Arboretum. They are looking forward to finding a house soon, one with a yard full of oaks to care for!

Bruce Jake Berger (2015) completed a master’s degree in Environmental Science and a Master’s of Public Affairs degree in December 2019 from Indiana University Bloomington. He is very happy to be working with the U.S. EPA in Chicago in Clean Water Act enforcement, doing industrial/municipal water pollution inspections and case management to bring water polluters into compliance with their permits and local/state/federal laws.

Erin Pfarr (2015) lived in France for two years after her internship at the Arboretum, teaching English to elementary school children. In 2017, she started graduate school at Rutgers University where she is pursuing a PhD in Plant Biology. Erin is working with the popular flowering dogwood trees (Cornus florida and Cornus kousa) and has presented her work through oral and poster presentations at many conferences. She is currently wrapping up her research and writing her thesis.

Nick Steichmann (2015) is attending University of South Carolina, pursuing a PhD in Biology. He studies eye design in caridean shrimp and its role in dynamic color change. He is currently working as a Graduate Instructional Assistant teaching Cell and Molecular Biology Lab. Nick passed his qualifying exam, attended the 2020 Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology (SICB) conference, and is applying for a Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant.

Mackenzie Coden (2016) is a first-year PhD student at Yale University studying Immunobiology and has authored several papers.

Kasey Pham (2016) finished her BS and MS, receiving a department fellowship upon admission to graduate school. She was the 2nd author on Garner et al. 2019 International Oaks (publication), published May 2019 in International Oaks No. 30: 131–138, and is pursuing her PhD at the University of Florida, studying the evolution of tree hybrids.

Sara Desmond (2017) completed her degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and spent time in an AmeriCorps program doing environmental restoration fieldwork. Through this experience, Sara was introduced to urban farming and is looking forward to her apprenticeship through the Chicago Botanic Garden. She is also interested in future environmental restoration opportunities in the Chicago area. The paper that Sara helped work on during her time at the Arboretum is currently in review in the American Journal of Botany and the authors are hoping it will be published!

Taskeen Khan (2017) is interning for Wolfram Alpha collecting nutrition data, and is part of a University of Illinois lab group creating science curriculums for 3rd grade. She also spent three months interning for Farmer Nick and created an e-course about houseplants and plant science that will be rolled out in Fall 2021. Taskeen is ultimately interested in finding a position in science education and communication.

Samantha Pancock (2017) was a co-author on a paper published in Global Change Biology, part of work from her time as an Arboretum intern. She worked with the EPA for a year, with several publications in the Federal Register, before returning to the Arboretum as a research assistant for Dr. Chuck Cannon in the Center of Tree Science. Samantha’s general research focus is on the evolution and conservation of trees. A major project she is working on is the ongoing implementation of a “tree observatory” platform for the simultaneous collection of many different types of data on tree behavior, growth, and status.

Liz Gibbons (2018) is currently a research data technician, working on human genetics and neurodegenerative diseases. She has published two papers in her current position and hopes to have more on the way soon. Liz is currently applying for PhD programs in RNA biology.

Lydia Schlaefke (2018) has held positions in the research field and clinical laboratory setting since her time at the Arboretum. She worked as a Research Assistant at UConn Health looking at rare bone diseases; however, Covid-19 required she change course and take a temporary position in a clinical laboratory setting processing patient coronavirus tests using Real-Time PCR. In October, Lydia started a new position in the Greater Boston area as a Research Assistant at a biotech startup called Dyne Therapeutics. They are currently exploring innovative therapeutic treatments for rare muscle diseases.

Ashley Wojciechowski (2018) began her PhD work analyzing long-term trends in aboveground biomass at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) restored grassland placed 3rd in the ESA Ecological Restoration Student Poster Competition. She is preparing a manuscript about the research she presented and is studying for her oral comprehensive exams to be a PhD candidate. She also adopted another cat during quarantine and is adjusting to life with two energetic cats while working (mostly) remotely!

Mariah Casmey (2019) is currently an MSc student at the University of Alberta in Renewable Resources with a concentration in Forest Biology and Management.

Sydney Kaplan (2019) is a senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology, pursuing a Master’s of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering. After her experience at the Arboretum, she presented her research at the International Symposium for Precision Management of Orchards and Vineyards in Palermo Italy. She completed an internship in New Zealand with Abundant Robotics, an agricultural technology startup developing an apple harvesting robot before returning to the Arboretum on a Research Experience Extension Fellowship (REEF), continuing to investigate drones for tree science, developing vision tracking software and exploring methods for semi-autonomous flight.

Ella Segal (2019) is on track to graduate in May 2021, writing a senior thesis on how grass/fungal endophyte mutualisms may shift with climate change. Since completing her time at the Arboretum, Ella has stayed involved in preparing the resulting publication with her advisors, gotten involved with an ecology lab at her school, and has an interest in pursuing graduate school.

Theodore Bohdanowycz (2020) earned his Associates degree from Washtenaw Community College in general math and science and is looking to earn his B.S. in sustainable development and restoration ecology. His internship experience solidified his desire to include conservation and restoration on his path to a future career.

Janey Lienau (2020) returned to continue her summer research as a Research Experience Extension Fellow (REEF), working in the Soil Ecology Lab to further her skills in R programming and data analysis and develop technical lab skills that were missed because of the nature of the virtual 2020 program. She plans to apply for master’s programs in soil ecology.

Leslie Vargas (2020) graduated from the University of the South a semester early and will be returning as a Research Experience Extension Fellow (REEF) working on the 2020 Tree Census Report. She is interested in a future job within the Chicagoland area focusing on natural resources or urban forestry.

Fall 2020 Update: Past fellows and interns

Marina Jawad (2016-17) finished her internship and went on to become the President of Bethel University’s Creation Restoration club, conducting invasive plant species removals around campus with students. She graduated in 2016 and has been working as a consultant for an environmental consulting firm. She uses her plant ID skills in the field during site visits and soil sampling activities. She writes Environmental Assessments and Reports and continues to learn more about the state and country’s changing environmental regulations.

Jessica Oros (2017-19) began her undergraduate degree studying microbiology at the University of Chicago and joined a virology laboratory. She also joined a competitive synthetic biology team on campus and had the chance to do computational work this summer in support of a wet lab project engineering a microbial system to degrade microplastics in contaminated water systems. Jessica also had the chance to participate in a Virtual Sustainability Trek program through the university where she heard from urban foresters, chemical engineers, and economists focused on promoting sustainability across the country and world.

Norbaya Durr (2020) attends Elmhurst College, taking an advanced chemistry course and another Honors Research course. She attended the 2020 Wild Things conference, had two publications, and is busy applying for grants.

Fall 2019 Update

Bruce “Jake” Berger (2015) spent the summer of 2019 working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago. This biology internship involved monitoring and modeling invasive fish populations and movements. Jake will be graduating this December from Indiana University Bloomington, with an M.S. in Environmental Science and Master of Public Affairs, focused on Water Resource Management.

Nick Steichmann (2015) is pursuing a PhD at the University of South Carolina, working in the Speiser Lab. His interests include biology, marine invertebrates, scallops, shrimp, chitons, and conch. Nick let us know the two summers he spent at the Arboretum helped him become a more confident presenter, ask more meaningful questions, and discover new opportunities in research he wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

Mackenzie Coden (2016) is currently a Research Technician performing immunology research at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Mackenzie has presented research at various regional and national conferences, published two papers last year, and has several papers in preparation.

Kasey Pham (2016) received a department fellowship to attend the University of Florida, pursuing a PhD in Botany/Plant Biology, and is working in the Laboratory of Molecular Systematics & Evolutionary Genetics at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The project she pitched for her PhD dissertation work was developed at the Arboretum.

Amy Byrne (2017) is now working as a Global Tree Conservation Assistant and Oak Consortium Coordinator at The Morton Arboretum, focusing on outreach and communication with arboreta and botanic gardens while utilizing her environmental science background. Amy has submitted proposals to present at two conferences, assisted in submitting a large grant proposal, and participated in numerous professional development opportunities.

Taskeen Khan (2017) returned to the Arboretum in the summer of 2018. As a REEF (Research Experience Extension Fellow), she continued her work from the previous year and presented it at the 2018 Undergraduate Research Symposium. She is currently a Research Assistant in the Fraterigo Lab, studying the impact of forest fires, and in May of 2020, she will complete her undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology Honors and Chemistry. Taskeen received the Integrative Biology Honors Junior Achievements Scholarship, and is an Illinois Undergraduate Research Ambassador, promoting undergraduate research.

Sierra Lopezalles (2017) continues to pursue her undergraduate degree in Biology at Caltech and will graduate in June of 2020.

Cori Butkiewicz (2018) graduated from the University of Maryland with a BS in Biological Sciences: Ecology and Evolution and is currently pursuing an MS in Forestry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cori enjoyed participating in National Dendroecological Field Week and when asked how her time at the Arboretum impacted her career, she told us it gave her a reference that allowed her to get into grad school and do the research she really want to do!

Lydia Schlaefke (2018) has completed her BS in Environmental Biology/Microbiology with a minor in Environmental Sustainability Studies from Michigan State University. Prior to graduating she worked as a Lab Technician at MSU’s Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, and as a Laboratory Supervisor at Fibertec Industrial Hygiene Industries. She was recently hired as a Research Assistant for Orthopaedic Surgery at UConn Health.

Ashley Wojciechowski (2018) continued her research as a REEF (Research Experience Extension Fellow) through her senior year and presented her work at the Midwestern Ecology and Evolution Conference. She completed her degree from North Central College and is now a Graduate Research Assistant in the Baer Lab at The University of Kansas, pursuing a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. See Ashley’s REEF project here.

Gabriela Krochmal (2019) will be graduating from Loyola University Chicago in December of 2019, with a BS in Environmental Science. When asked about the impact of the summer research experience on her career path, she noted an increase in her independent research skills, ability to formulate a project, and statistical analysis, as well as learning to communicate science more efficiently.

Fall 2018 Update

Liz Carter (2014) is pursuing her MS in Environmental Science at DePaul; published her URF project results, “Do oaks with a provenance related to warmer climates emit more isoprene?” in the DePaul science journal, DePaul Discoveries in 2015; and presented the results of her senior thesis project at the International Urban Wildlife Conference in May of 2015. The poster was titled “Linking mammalian habitat use to vegetation community structure in the Chicagoland region.”

Kathrine Klaus (2014) is an Environmental Mission Scholar at Vermont Law School. She recently wrote and presented a Note suggesting the Clean Water Act encompasses the discharge of pollutants to groundwater that is hydrologically connected to surface water and she is seeking publication for that Note. In the summer of 2017, Kathrine worked for the EPA in the Office of Regional Counsel in Chicago, and in the summer of 2018, she worked for the Department of Justice in the Natural Resources Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division in Washington, D.C.

Angélica Bannwart Lopes (2015) is currently teaching English to children ( ages 12 to 15) at a state school in Goias, Brazil. She earned her Forest Engineering degree, thanks, in part, to the skills received during the URF, and although she plans to pursue a career in the field, Angélica is truly enjoying her job as a teacher.

Bruce (‘Jake’) Berger (2015) is studying Water Resource Management at Indiana University Bloomington, pursuing an MS in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Affairs. He is working with faculty at IU Bloomington to study how well states are preparing for conservation issues related to climate change in their federally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans. Jake has performed fieldwork in the Galapagos Islands to catch and study sea turtles and has worked with the Indiana Clean Lakes Program to perform lake sampling and measurements for public water bodies to assess water quality.

Nick Steichmann (2015) presented his research on Lake George in Illinois City to the Upper Mississippi center, and this spring he went to Australia and completed an internship at the University of Sydney working with native bees and ants.  He enjoyed visiting the Great Barrier Reef so much that he is currently applying for PhD programs in marine biology.

Mackenzie Coden (2016) changed her field of study and is currently a research technician in the Department of Allergy and Immunology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She has attended and presented at local, regional, and national Immunology conferences, authored two publications, with several more in preparation for submission, and is planning to pursue a PhD in the coming years.

Kasey Pham (2016) is pursuing her MS at Michigan State, studying Plant Biology. She published Pham et al. 2017 in the journal Genome, is a coauthor on Fitzgibbon et al. 2017, also in Genome, and received a PLANTS grant to attend the Botany 2017 meeting, where she presented a talk.

Quinn Taylor (2016) is currently a high school science teacher and Math/Science department head at Fusion Academy.  She co-authored a paper on her research with her URF mentor, Dr. Meghan Midgley, which can be found in the March 2018 issue of Forest Ecology and Management.  In August 2017 Quinn traveled to Portland, Oregon to present this research at the ESA Annual Meeting.

Amy Byrne (2017) spent the summer working as a Population Biology intern at the Lincoln Park Zoo Conservation & Science Department. She will be a co-author on a paper “Sex-specific median life expectancies from ex situ populations for 330 animal species” that is still in the editing phase. She collected the new data for this paper and will be presenting her research findings on Red-capped Cardinal post-hatch survival rate and transfer mortality rate to the Conservation & Science Department at the zoo. Amy recently returned to the Arboretum to continue working with Dr. Andrew Hipp.

Alyssa Gao (2017) is in her junior year at Dartmouth. She organized a day-long summit that brought together student leaders in sustainability from six peer institutions to connect and build a network; she was awarded the 2017-18 Carol Folt Research Scholarship to continue her work in the Kapuscinski lab, and was selected for the Environmental Studies Foreign Study Program and will travel to South Africa and Namibia in the fall of 2018.

Katie McGee (2017) completed her senior thesis and graduated magna cum laude from James Madison University (JMU), where she was also recognized for service to the biology department. She has had several internships, including one at JMU that investigated bird behavior and urbanization and another doing environmental education/ trail work and conservation in Massachusetts with the Student Conservation Association. Katie is currently finishing up an internship as a biology technician at Redwoods National Forest in California and has internship opportunities lines up for 2019.