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 in recognition of the contributions of two of our Chapter’s CNPS Fellows who were very supportive of education, research and conservation activities.
2020 Scholarship Recipients
Martin Purdy Claremont Graduate School / California Botanical Garden (Donald Mayall Conservation Graduate Research Scholarship). Martin has been exploring the flora of Coyote Ridge area, a 50 square mile alpine site located in northwest Inyo County for the past year. This year, he will document the diversity and distribution of vascular and nonvascular plant species, publish a voucher based, annotated checklist of plants, and provide this information to the Inyo National Forest and California Natural Diversity Database and other appropriate agencies. The primary recipient of the plant vouchers will be the Santa Ana Botanical Garden Herbarium.
Brook Constantz University of California, Santa Cruz (Graduate Research Scholarship). Brook will be comparing the native grasses, understory, and woody species of four older riparian restoration sites along the Upper Sacramento River. Most restoration sites are monitored for around three years but Brook will be looking at restoration sites that are 17-31 years old and compare them to intact remnant forests. Her work will help document whether riparian forests are recovering over the long term which may help guide future restoration projects.
Emma R, Fryer, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Sally Casey Shooting Stars Graduate Research Scholarship). Emma is studying the verdict clay endemic flora of the San Joaquin Desert, a region which includes Cantua Creek, the Panoche - Coalinga Area of Critical Environmental Concern, and the Carrizo Plain. She will quantify the soil conditions that give rise to the community assemblage of 15 endemic plants as well as the mechanisms within each plant that allow them to tolerate these soils. She is also evaluating how an invasive weed, Bromus madritensis, is impacting this native plant community.
Thomas Samojedny Jr., California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Undergraduate Student Scholarship). To better understand and evaluate serpentine-tolerant nickel hyper -accumulators, Thomas will examine 44 California endemic serpentine-tolerate species with an X-ray Fluorescence (XRY) device to measure foliar Ni concentration. What is unique about this technique is that herbaria specimens can be examined without destroying the specimen and is cheaper and faster than older chemical analysis methods. The researchers hope that the XRY device will result in the discovery of new Nickel hyperaccumulators and raise awareness of serpentine landscapes as repositories of unique plants.
2019-2020 Scholarship Recipients
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.
2018-2019 Scholarship Recipients
Livia Braga, San José State University (Graduate Research Scholarship). Livia will be working with four species of the moss genus Scleropodium whose ranges overlap (sympatric species). She is studying the niche differences that may affect species diversity and composition in these non-vascular plants.
Alyssa Hanover, San José State University (Sally Casey Shooting Stars Graduate Research Scholarship). Alyssa is working in second growth
coast redwood forest in Redwood National Park in the research area of assessing effective restoration of forest health. She notes that when using active management techniques to restore an ecosystem, it is critical to fully understand the potential benefits as well as impacts associated with implementation. The specific objective of her study is to determine how understory species composition varies between restorative treatments, including stands treated with and without mechanical thinning.
Keir Morse, Claremont Graduate University (Donald Mayall Conservation Graduate Research Scholarship). Keir’s work addresses the taxonomy and conservation of the genus Malocothamnus. This genus includes firefollowing shrubs in the mallow family (Malvaceae) that are taxonomically challenging. As a part of this work he plans to provide resources such as morphology assessments, extensive field work documentation and DNA analyses, to assist with resolving the taxonomy of the genus, including taxa that are on the CNPS rare plant list.
Nate Blackmore, University of California, Santa Cruz (Undergraduate Student Scholarship). Nate’s research topic for his senior thesis is serpentine endemics and the tradeoff between serpentine adaption and competitive ability. He will be assessing water use efficiency: competitive ability in greenhouse trials using nine native genera (species) and one non-native annual grass. Nate plans to share the results of his research at an undergraduate research poster symposium and with the Edgewood Weed Warriors.
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.