The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Students win national research awards in Botany

Photo+Courtesy+of+Mike+Moore
Photo Courtesy of Mike Moore

Five Bucknell undergraduate students were awarded as recipients of eight highly selective research-related awards in the field of plant sciences at the Botany 2023 Conference in Boise, Idaho.

The conference occurred from July 22 to July 27. The award recipients were co-mentored by Biology Professor and Department Chair Chris Martine, the David Burpee Professor in Plant Genetics & Research, former Richard E. and Yvonne Smith Post-Doctoral Fellow Tanisha Williams and Burpee Post-Doctoral Fellow Melody Sain.

The Botanical Society of America (BSA) chose Kaitlin Henry ’25 of Vineland, N.J., majoring in cell biology/biochemistry, as one of the five winners of the 2023 Undergraduate Student Research Award, a student grants program that requires a proposal and letter of recommendation. The award assisted Henry in establishing her research project using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to analyze and investigate extrafloral nectar in an Australian bush tomato with the hopes of exploring possible ant-plant relationships.

Henry’s award means that Bucknell undergrads have now received this competitive award 20 times since 2013. In addition to this accomplishment, Henry was also selected as the recipient of the 2023 Torrey Botanical Society Undergraduate Research Fellowship. 

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The BSA also selected biology majors Claire Marino ’23 of Victor, N.Y, Maddie Wickers ’23 of Phoenix, Ariz. and Diamanda Zizis ’23 of Independence, Ohio, for the Young Botanist Award, an award that is obtained through one’s individual recognition as an outstanding graduating senior in the field of plant sciences. This year, 22 students were selected from institutions across North America based on an extensive review of student achievement and accolades evident from resumes and letters of support. Bucknell students have now been recognized with this award 21 times. 

Zizis and Marino were also chosen for the Undergraduate Research Prize, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists’ annual recognition of an outstanding and independent research project in the field of plant systematics. Zizis’ project looked at the results of hybridization between two Australian plant species with different reproductive systems while Marino’s work used population genetics to assess species boundaries in a group of Australian bush tomatoes. Both Zizis and Marino successfully defended these projects as honors theses in April, and are currently the seventh and eighth Bucknellians to win this highly-coveted award. Zizis began graduate study in the Bucknell Biology master’s program this fall, while Marino is now attending the University of Connecticut to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology.

In addition to Zizis and Marino, the ASPT also selected master’s student Isaac Buabeng ’24 of Buabeng, Ghana, Africa for another highly selective Student Travel Award that will assist with his trip to Botany 2023 to present on his graduate research. Buabeng will be sharing preliminary findings from his thesis work on the Pennsylvania-rare plant Canby’s Mountain Lover, a species with only three remaining populations in the state.

In total, nine members of the Martine Lab attended the Botany 2023 Conference this year.

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