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13 students receive research awards from Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research

Mon, 05/09/2022

Alex Hoffpauir, KU postbaccalaureate student, is one of 12 student research award recipients. Credit: Meg Kumin, KU Marketing.

LAWRENCE — The Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research at the University of Kansas has awarded $12,000 in funding this spring for student research to be conducted this year. The research center’s 2022 Student Research Awards are providing 13 students, including four undergraduates, with funding ranging from $500 to $1,500 each in support of their ecological research.

Their work covers subjects such as factors affecting recovery of post-agricultural land, the use of satellite imagery to monitor species invasion and the effect of fire on lake phytoplankton in grasslands. During the 2022-2023 academic year, each student will present their research during one of the center’s Friday Ecology Seminars, which went online in 2020.

The research center houses a diverse group of ecological research and remote sensing/GIS programs, and it also manages the 3,700-acre KU Field Station, a resource for study across the university.

“We’re excited about the range and depth of research being done by students at all levels, and we’re glad to be able to provide an increasing amount of support for them,” said Bryan Foster, KU Field Station director, who chairs the awards committee. Foster is a KU professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and a senior scientist at the research center.

Each of the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research student awards is funded through KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU.

The Director’s Award provides support for research conducted by a graduate student. Kayla Clouse, doctoral student in ecology & evolutionary biology from Farmington Hills, Michigan, was awarded $1,500 in funding for her project, “Experimental evolution of Azospirillum brasilense to maize under two fertilization regimes.” Her adviser is Maggie Wagner, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and assistant scientist at the research center.

The Nancy Hale-Martinko Memorial Award provides support for research conducted by an undergraduate or graduate student. Adeline Kelly, a junior in ecology, evolutionary & organismal biology and environmental studies from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was awarded $1,500 for her project, “The effects of fire on lake phytoplankton community composition in grassland ecosystems.” Her advisers are Ted Harris, assistant research professor at the research center, and Ben Sikes, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and associate scientist at the research center.

The Kenneth B. Armitage Award provides support for research conducted by an undergraduate or graduate student at the KU Field Station. Audrey Nelson, junior in ecology & evolutionary biology from Shawnee, was awarded $1,000 in funding for her project, “Confirming that differences in disease incidence in response to manipulations of plant species richness, phylogenetic relatedness, and precipitation are driven by host-specific pathogens.” Her adviser is Jim Bever, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior scientist at the research center.

The Baldwin Woods Award provides support for research conducted by an undergraduate or graduate student at the KU Field Station’s Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve. Alexander Andresen, junior in ecology & evolutionary biology from Manhattan, received $1,000 in funding for his project, “Macro shifts in fungal diversity between Baldwin and Rice regions.” His adviser is Ben Sikes, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and associate scientist at the research center.

The W. Dean Kettle Conservation Award provides support for research conducted by an undergraduate or graduate student at the KU Field Station in the area of natural resource conservation. Reb Bryant, graduate student in ecology & evolutionary biology from Shreveport, Louisiana, was awarded $1,000 in funding for their project, “The impact of prairie monolith transplants on successional recovery in different post-agricultural land uses.” Their adviser is Jim Bever, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior scientist at the research center.

The Mari F. Pesek Award provides support for research conducted by a graduate student at the KU Field Station. Chen Liang, doctoral student in geography from Tianjin, China, was awarded $1,000 in funding for her project, “Detecting Eastern Redcedar encroachment from 2017 to 2021 using satellite images.” Her advisers are Xingong Li, professor of geography & atmospheric science, and Jude Kastens, associate research professor at the research center.

The Nason Awards provide support for research conducted by either undergraduate or graduate students. In 2022, three students were awarded $1,000 each in funding:

  • Adeola Adeboje, doctoral student in ecology & evolutionary biology from Ibadan, Nigeria, for her project, “Cross-variable synchrony and climatic change.” Her adviser is Dan Reuman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and senior scientist at the research center.
  • Nat Coombs, doctoral student in ecology & evolutionary biology from Sterling, Virginia, for their project, “Synchrony of movement of anadromous fish along a network of imperfect detectors.” Their adviser is Dan Reuman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and senior scientist at the research center.
  • Micah Unruh, doctoral student in ecology & evolutionary biology from Lewis, for his project, “Mutually transformative interactions between microbes and soil structure mediate long-term soil organic carbon stabilization.” His adviser is Sharon Billings, Dean’s Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior scientist at the research center.

In addition, four students received $500 each in supplemental awards through the Nason Fund:

  • Haley Burrill, doctoral student in ecology & evolutionary biology from Irvine, California, for her project, “Confirming disease incidence pathogens to enhance evidence for mycorrhizal-induced resistance to pathogens, as detected in common prairie plants.” Her adviser is Jim Bever, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior scientist at the research center.
  • Alexandria Hoffpauir, National Science Foundation postbaccalaureate student from Leawood, for her project, “The role of soil microbial community, plant species richness and phylogenetic diversity, on the suppression of weeds.” Her adviser is Jim Bever, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior scientist at the research center.
  • Lola Klamm, master’s student in ecology & evolutionary biology from Boise, Idaho, for her project, “Understanding soil aggregate turnover to predict soil-climate feedbacks.” Her adviser is Sharon Billings, Dean’s Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and senior scientist for the research center.
  • Luke Ungerer, a junior from St. Louis, for his project, “Analyzing how temperature and phytoplankton community composition influence zooplankton community composition and size distribution.” His adviser is Ted Harris, assistant research professor at the research center.

Photo: Alex Hoffpauir, KU postbaccalaureate student, is one of 12 student research award recipients. Credit: Meg Kumin, KU Marketing.



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