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CNPS SCV Scholarship Winners

The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CNPS has supported California native plant research by students since 1999.  Starting in 2018, the graduate student scholarships include the Donald Mayall Conservation Scholarship and the Sally Casey Shooting Stars Scholarship. 

2018 - 2019 Scholarship Winners

Sarah Gaffney, UC Davis, (Sally Casey Shooting Stars Graduate Research Scholarship) is researching plant-soil feedbacks to understand their role in California grassland invasions.  Specifically, how are Aegilops triuncialis (goat grass) and Elymus caput- medusae (medusahead) changing nutrients, the microbial community and soil moisture.

Samantha Spurlin, San Jose State University (Don Mayall Conservation Research Scholarship). Samantha is studying the rapid evolution of a rare, herbaceous wildflower, Collinsia multicolor (San Francisco collinsia) and its eco-physiological variation during the severe California drought of 2011 to 2015. Plants grown from seeds obtained in 2013 and 2017/2018 from three populations will be examined for differences in flowering times, an important indicator of when the flowers are open and available for pollination; and for stomatal density changes showing how the plant is adapting to a changing climate.

Lacey Benson, San Jose State University (Graduate Research Scholarship). She is examining the desiccation tolerance of Western sword fern (Polystichum munitum) gametophytes and their recovery rate and morphology along the coast redwood ecological gradient in order to understand how this fern will be affected by climate change.

2017-2018 Scholarship Winners

Alejandro Brambila, University of Oregon (Sally Casey Shooting Stars Graduate Research Scholarship). Alejandro is studying the effects of development on historic oak habitat composition and the distribution in the urban West Santa Clara Valley. He will be sampling sites in the peninsular west valley (roughly Palo Alto to Mountain View) and looking at how oaks are distributed throughout the urban landscape in the study area. 

Alexandria Igwe, University of California Davis (Donald Mayall Conservation Research Scholarship). Alexandria’s research seeks to understand how native plants adapted to serpentine soil utilize root-associated microorganisms to thrive in the presence of abiotic stress, such as drought and heavy-metal concentrations.

Kelly Santos, San Francisco State University (Graduate Research Scholarship). Kelly’s work involves Suaeda californica, a federally endangered low-growing coastal salt marsh shrub. 

Hannah Kang, University of California, Davis. (Undergraduate Research Scholarship). Hannah's research looks at how soil microbial communities vary depending on plant host with a focus on the effects of invasive annual grasses on native annual forb species. 

2016-2017 Scholarship Winners

Graduate Student Research Scholarships

Margot Buchbinder, San Francisco State University (Conservation Scholarship).  Margot is studying the effects of planting native California cordgrass (Spartina foliosa) in an active salt marsh restoration site at the Sears Point restoration site in north San Francisco Bay.  Margot’s work is designed to determine whether planting native Spartina can enhance recovery and reduce observed erosion.

Rebecca Hendricks, San Jose State University (Conservation Scholarship).  Rebecca’s studies focus on the Big Berry Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca).  She is studying ecophysicological responses (including water stress and mortality) to seasonal drought across its range using sampling across 4 degrees of latitude at three locations (Joseph D Grant County Park, Los Padres National Forest and Condor’s Hope Ranch).  

Josephine Lesage, University of California, Santa Cruz.   Josephine’s work involves the effects of grazing and climate change on native annual forb persistence in California coastal prairies. Her work will assess coastal prairie sites from Monterey County through Mendocino County previously quantified by Grey Hayes and K.D. Holl.   The study is intended evaluate whether native annual forbs in coastal prairies are experiencing the same declines as native annual forbs in interior grasslands as the result of climate change and whether grazing management might buffer potential declines of native annual forb species.  

2015 Scholarship Winners

Graduate Student Research Scholarships

Prahlada Papper, University of California, Berkeley. (Conservation Scholarship) Prahlada is studying the movement of genetic characteristics through wind-borne pollen hybridization, focusing on blue oak and Oregon white oak. Understanding the degree of gene flow between these species is an important step towards an understanding of their potential responses, as well as management implications.

Kyle Christie, University of California, Davis. Kyle’s studies are designed to improve the understanding of the taxonomy and species delineation of the Streptanthus breweri complex of jewelflowers.

Julia Michaels, University of California, Davis. (Conservation Scholarship) Julia’s work involves a study of plant diversity in vernal pools. Her studies will be looking at the effects of grazing on vernal pool plant diversity on an 1,132 acre site in Sacramento County.

Undergraduate Student Scholarship

Jannah Wren at University of California, Davis. The purpose of her research is to evaluate the effect of root nodule symbiosis (nitrogen fixation) in native, non-legume (actinorhizal) plants.

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