2016 Mentor Projects
Key words: Evolution, Genetics, Phylogenomics, Next Generation Sequencing
BGCI Intern - Botanic Gardens Conservation International is a non-profit organization that aims to mobilize botanic gardens around the world to help protect plant diversity.
Early life stages (dormancy break, germination, and seedling establishment) are predicted to be more sensitive to climate than adult stages, potentially serving as a large bottleneck to recruitment under climate change.
Soil dendrochemistry, or the elemental analysis of dated soil samples, has been used to monitor historical changes in soil and atmospheric chemistry, soil development, and land-use history. For restoration ecologists, however, this approach also provides a way to detect the long-term changes in environmental quality since variations in soil chemistry typically coincide with changes in plant...
Fossil plants from Mongolia are incredibly rare. However, in the last five years paleobotanists from the Chicago Botanic Garden have collected thousands of early Cretaceous fossils (~100-120 million years old) such as cones, leaves, seeds, and wood. Some of the conifers groups identified from Mongolia so far include extinct members of the spruce and cypress families.
The gravel hills support a unique plant community more similar to short grass prairies of the West rather than mesic prairies of the surrounding areas. These habitats are often small and isolated habitats which have been naturally fragmented for many years. We are interested in what are the traits that have allowed these species to colonize these areas and persist in these areas.
The evening primrose family, Onagraceae, shows spectacular inter- and intra-specific variation in floral morphology, floral scent and mating systems. As part of a large NSF-funded Dimensions of Biodiversity project, we have documented both inter- and intra-specific variation in floral traits in 14 species of Onagraceae and have found striking intraspecific polymorphisms in many taxa.
Intern will assist in several ongoing projects investigating three milkweed species (Ascelpias spp.) across life stages and along climatic gradients. Early life stages will be examined through laboratory germination trials at Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) and a field germination experiment at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
The adaptation of plants to different kinds of pollinators is considered a driving force of the floral diversity seen among angiosperms. Shifts between pollinators that are accompanied by changes in floral traits provide a key opportunity to investigate the role of pollinators in driving floral trait evolution.
Mating system is directly related to inbreeding and in some cases will lead to a loss of fitness known as inbreeding depression. The relation between mating system and ID has been study in different organisms, and there is a strong relationship but variation is inevitable.
Door County Wisconsin lies along the Niagara Escarpment, resulting in a diverse flora, which is particularly rich in orchid species. 26 of the 49 orchid species native to Wisconsin are found at the Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey Harbor.
The Amarylloids are a large and diverse group of perennial plants (59 genera, > 800 species) in the order Asparagales, and are distributed primarily in tropical and subtropical areas. Many species are cultivated as garden ornamentals or pot plants, including the belladonna lily (Amaryllis belladonna), daffodil (Narcissus), zephyr lilies (Zephyrastrum), and ‘...
Oenothera xylocarpa is a rare endemic found in rich pumice soils found in high elevations of the Sierra Nevada. This species is only located in three isolated regions in California and Nevada. Using Next-generation sequencing techniques we are interested in exploring how isolated are the populations in these regions and how much diversity remains within these populations.
Plants of Concern is a regional rare plant monitoring program designed to assess long-term trends in rare plant species. It is a flexible collaboration of public and non-governmental conservation agencies, landowners and volunteer groups, guided by an advisory group of land managers, scientists and volunteers.
Critical components of plant replacement (regeneration) include seed dormancy loss, germination, and seedling establishment. These components, in particular, show potentially greater sensitivity to climate change then do subsequent development stages.
Dormancy allows seeds to wait out bad times and predict when conditions are most suitable for seedling establishment. Hence the triggers of seed germination will vary with ecosystem and life-history of a species.
There are a wide number of potential projects for a student to work under at the Chicago Botanic Garden. We try our best to give them a broad experience of the Science and the Scientific process while they are at the Gardens.
Daylilies are a widely planted ornamental that frequently escapes garden confines to establish large and lovely populations in natural systems. Once established, daylilies rapidly multiply and spread to form dense patches that readily displace native plants. Many empirical studies show that plant–soil interactions (e.g.
Do plants compete more strongly with closely or distantly related species? Does a non-native species that is closely related to a native species have a better chance of invading?
This GIS project is focused on analyzing the English Walled Garden using the reports of dead plants. We suspect there are more than one ‘dead zones’ where environmental factors are not conducive to plant longevity.