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Authors

Anna Allen

Echinacea Project 2020

Student, Alexandria Area High School ’21 , Alexandria Technical and Community College ’21

Research Interests

I am interested in studying how human interaction can effect plants and wildlife. I also am interested in learning all about the plants and the animals that live in the prairies too. I love learning!

Statement

I am from Alexandria, Minnesota. In my spare time I like to go on adventures, hangout with friends and family and play music. I play the harp and percussion!! Some of the things I love in life are: the mountains, marching band, music, sleeping, plants, fun hats, flannels and dancing. 

When I graduate high school I plan to move out to the mountains and go to school either at Colorado State or Montana State. I want to major in math and environmental studies, and then go into environmental law. I am so excited to work with everyone this summer and to be able to learn!

 

Mia Stevens

Echinacea Project 2020

Biology, College of Wooster 2020 

Research Interests

My research interests are in how plants interact with their surrounding organisms and environment. And in this pollination biology perfectly is nesseled quite nicely. I have enjoyed using molecular work to follow where pollen is moving in populations of plants.  I have been on Team Echinacea before (Summer 2018 and Team Echinacea East 2019) and I am looking forward to be back on the team and in the field!

Statement

I am from Buffalo, NY, and yes it finally stopped snowing around a month ago.  In my spare time I like to knit, embroider, and most recently bake (it became my quarantine pass time). My dog Ellie is my sidekick and we love to go on adventures together, trying not to get in too much trouble. 

This is me presenting a poster of my senior thesis dressed as a saguaro cactus

Anna Meehan

Echinacea Project 2020

Student, Alexandria Area High School ’22

Research Interests

I am interested in studying the genetic traits of wildflowers in prairie ecosystems, with a focus on natural selection and advantageous phenotypes.  Often times, flowers are overlooked when speaking of biodiversity. However, flowers are necessary to the structure of every ecosystem, as they allow symbiotic relationships for basic and complex organisms alike. By indicating and preserving advantageous traits, I hope to learn how scientists may help endangered plants through assisted breeding and appropriate preservation practices.

Statement

I am from Alexandria, Minnesota.  In my spare time, I like to practice violin, study languages, and write historical fiction pieces on Eastern Europe. I love classical and folk music, especially the works of Vaughn Williams, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich. When I have the time, I enjoy researching and recreating historical dresses from around the world.

When I graduate high school, I plan to attend college and apply my love of language, history, and science to become either a medical geneticist or sociocultural anthropologist. I also hope to use my voice to spread awareness about environmental conservation. As of recent, my favorite animated movie is Howl’s Moving Castle, which always goes well with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I’m looking forward to this research experience, and I’m excited to see what summer of 2020 has in store! 

You may not be able to see it, but I’ve got a big smile under that mask!

Emma Greenlee

Echinacea Project 2020

Biology Major; Spanish minor, Carleton College 2021

Research Interests

Hi! I’m Emma, a senior biology major at Carleton College. I did a mini-internship with the Echinacea Project in December 2019 and I’m excited to spend the summer as a part of the team in the field! I am passionate about prairie ecology and I’m especially interested in prairie plant communities. I’m looking forward to learning more about population ecology this summer, and finding out how my community ecology interests fit into the Echinacea Project’s research.

Statement

I’m from Aurora, a small town on northeast Minnesota’s Iron Range, and this spring I spent time at home while finishing my spring term classes online. I’m also on Carleton’s cross country and track teams and am a Spanish minor. Besides plants, I like to run, read, explore, spend time outside, and hang out with friends and family. 

This picture of me is from last summer which I spent doing restoration monitoring with the Nature Conservancy in prairies across the Dakotas and Minnesota!

Allie Radin

Echinacea Project 2020

Biology and German Studies, Binghamton University, 2022

Research Interests

I am interested in studying the effect of non-native species on ecosystems, with a particular interest in developing sustainable ways to control and prevent further damage from invasive species. I am excited to learn more about how research done by the Echinacea Project can be applied on a larger scale to promote conservation of prairies.

Statement

I am from around Albany, NY.  In my spare time I enjoy baking pies and bread, traveling, and reading. I especially like watching The Great British Bake-Off and other wholesome cooking shows. I am also interested in research regarding the development of animal models and treatment methods for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Erin Eichenberger

Echinacea Project 2020

Biology and Environmental Science, the College of William and Mary, 2019

Headed to the Applied Ecology department at North Carolina State University

Research Interests

My main interest is in how natural populations of plants respond and adapt to changes, such as habitat fragmentation, pollinator decline and invasion by other plants. With the Echinacea Project I have primarily worked on managing our database of the demographic characteristics and spatial positions of Echinacea angustifolia in remnant prairies. This summer I’m excited to help collect and add the 26th year of data to this database. I’m hoping to continue cleaning and improving our dataset in order to understand how plants’ spatial positions are related to their flowering efforts. In my graduate work I’m looking forward to learning more about pollination biology and North Carolina’s own prairies!

Statement

I’m from Raleigh, NC, and I’m headed back there this summer to begin a PhD at NCSU! I love to draw and bird, and I’m hoping that Stuart will let us take the canoes out again this summer because that’s another one of my favorite things to do. On the weekends you’ll find me traipsing through the prairies chasing birds, soaking up the sun in a hammock or feverishly farming pumpkins in Stardew Valley, which the team introduced me to last summer. On Bach Night you can catch Riley and I watching The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, Listen To Your Heart or old seasons of these shows (for when a global pandemic has halted their production.)

 

Me and my favorite member of Team Echinacea, Chekov!

Riley Thoen

Echinacea Project 2020

Biology Honors, Gustavus Adolphus College ’19

Research Interests

Anthropogenic habitat fragmentation has contributed to severe biodiversity loss worldwide and is expected to have lasting negative impacts on remnant communities in the coming years. One great consequence of fragmentation is the loss of genetic diversity and adaptive potential within individual remnant populations. Many studies have demonstrated the loss of neutral genetic diversity within remnant plant populations and linked this phenomenon to reduced population fitness. However, few studies have been designed to understand how remnant plant populations with varying sizes and degrees of isolation are differentially affected by climate change and how neutral and quantitative genetic variation may predict population persistence in a changing environment. Thus, it is my goal to understand the additive effects of habitat fragmentation and climate change for the persistence of remnant plant populations.

Statement

I grew up in Bloomington, MN, and went to college in Saint Peter, MN, where I learned to appreciate the biodiversity of the Midwest. I really enjoy being outdoors with no people around, and I am really looking forward to getting out of the big city (Chicago) and into the field in West Central MN again. Some of my other hobbies include: playing board games, playing video games, engaging in scientific discussions, participating in sports, reading (when I feel like it), and watching shows produced by the Bachelor franchise. My summer with Team Echinacea will be slightly truncated because I am starting a Ph.D. at the University of Georgia in August, but I am really looking forward to participating in field work and meeting folks this summer!

In the past, team members have observed Echinacea heads while sitting on buckets. I hope to revolutionize fieldwork this summer by teaching folks to observe buckets while sitting on Echinacea heads.

Short-term Internship: Exploring Conservation Research

My name is Anna Stehlik and I am participating in a short-term internship at the Chicago Botanic Garden during my school’s winter term this January. I am a senior at DePauw University studying environmental biology and am a part of the Environmental Fellows Program which is an environmentally- an sustainability-based honors program. I am also involved with the Sustainability Leadership Program and have been a campus farm intern for the past several years. On the campus farm, I have helped to establish a bee hive and deliver pollinator education programs to local school groups. I first became interested in pollinator health and habitat when my family began beekeeping about seven years ago and I focused my Girl Scout Gold Award project on creating a honey bee education program. I am also an avid hiker and spend my summers working at a backpacking ranch in the mountains of New Mexico. This past summer at the ranch, I had the opportunity to teach about the plants and wildlife in the area as well as the history of wildlife conservation.

My passion for the outdoors has driven me to pursue an education and career in environmental biology and conservation. I am very excited to explore the work done in the conservation lab here at the Chicago Botanic Garden. On my first day, I have learned about the fragmentation of prairie habitat and the work done here to learn how purple coneflower is affected. So far, I have been able to clean and process Echinacea flower heads to remove the achenes, and have also gotten to count achenes on scanned images.

Carleton College Extern Julie Bailard

Hi again, Flog! My name is Julie Bailard, and I’m a senior at Carleton College majoring in biology with a minor in cognitive science. I am excited to be starting my second winter at the Chicago Botanic Garden, after joining Team Echinacea last year as a winter extern and working this summer as an REU field intern. I am very interested in population and community ecology, particularly in the context of conservation and ecosystem health. Much of my previous work with the Echinacea Project has centered around one broad question: How effectively do our current methods of prairie maintenance and restoration protect and promote the health of small plant populations in fragmented habitat?

Staffanson Prairie on a gorgeous August day

This winter, I will be continuing to pursue this question in a new setting: my first germination study, using rope dodder (Cuscuta glomerata) seeds that Drake Mullett collected this summer for his dissertation research on the role of parasitic and hemiparasitic plants in prairie community health. Dodder seeds are “hard” seeds, with a tough outer coat that is impervious to water, leaving the seed dormant until that outer coat is damaged. Researchers aren’t sure how dodder breaks out of this physical dormancy in nature. While certain artificial laboratory methods for scarifying seeds have successfully broken the impervious outer coat in other dodder species, none of these methods have been applied to rope dodder, and very little is known about the optimal conditions for germinating rope dodder seeds. Interestingly, one earlier study of rope dodder distribution in Ohio prairies suggested that novel population recruitment may be positively associated with a recent history of burning. With my experiment this winter, I hope to compare the success of various scarification methods in promoting rope dodder germination, in order to identify the most effective treatment for laboratory germination. If possible, I also hope to consider the results in the context of rope dodder’s natural germinating conditions, including climate, sprouting phenology, and exposure to burning.

Cuscuta glomerata (rope dodder) seeds are about the same size as a poppy seed. And so far, no one knows how to make them sprout!
…And sprout is exactly what I want to make them do! So this week, I’ve been designing and setting up a germination experiment to figure out what scarification methods and climate conditions are best for making these seeds grow.

Outside of the lab, I am a clarinetist in the Carleton Orchestra and a consultant in our campus writing center. In my spare time, I also enjoy knitting, practicing T’ai Chi, and playing Muggle Quidditch.

Carleton Quidditch after a Halloween win against St. Olaf (in case you thought I was lying)

Julie Bailard

Echinacea Project 2019

Biology, Carleton College 2020

Research Interests

I am interested in community ecology, conservation genetics, and interspecific interaction, particularly in the context of pollination and reproduction. This winter, I had the wonderful opportunity to collect and analyze seed set data for Echinacea angustifolia, Solidago speciosa, and Liatris aspera with Team Echinacea. During that time, I came to wonder how the controlled burns used to maintain prairie fragments might influence plants’ interactions with their pollinators, potentially by altering the characteristics of plants’ floral displays in the year after the burn. This summer, I hope to explore other factors that could influence plant-pollinator interactions in prairie fragments.

Statement

I grew up in Menlo Park, California. In addition to studying biology as my major, I am a Cognitive Science minor with a focus on linguistics and neurobiology. I also enjoy learning languages, and while I’ve formally studied French, Spanish, and a little bit of Japanese, recently I’ve been trying my hand at teaching myself Korean. Outside of the classroom, I love to cook, knit, crochet, embroider, play clarinet, meditate with tai chi, and practice Muggle quidditch.