Past Fellows

GEORGE A MEINDL, University of Pittsburgh (PA). BIA funded fieldwork (2012 – 2013): Assessing the potential for cascading effects of heavy metal soil pollution: plants and pollinators (PA and CA). Human land use has resulted in toxic levels of heavy metal soil contamination. Phytoremediation has emerged as a low cost means to clean contaminated soils. Plants are grown on metal contaminated soil, and then removed at the end of their life cycle, taking the soil metals with them. However, because many insects feed on plant tissue, local insect populations may be harmed if they feed on metal-rich plants. George’s research seeks to determine the potential risks phytoremediation poses to insects, particularly pollinators. 
Research Advisor: Tia-Lynn Ashman, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh.

ANITA VARGHESE, University of Hawaii (HI).BIA funded fieldwork (2011 – 2013): Community based ecological monitoring and its implications for conservation in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (India). Collection of plant products is an important livelihood activity for communities in the tropics. The rising demand for herbal products puts plants under pressure and often this pressure is not assessed. Traditional knowledge of the harvesters can be complementary to scientific knowledge; together they can provide direct insight for better conserving ecologically and culturally important medicinal plants and their habitats.
Research Advisor: Tamara Ticktin, PhD, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

SAMANTHA DAVIS, Wright State University (OH). BIA funded fieldwork (2011 – 2012): Ohio – The direct and indirect effects of plant invasion on a rare woodland butterfly. The invasive plant, garlic mustard has been contributing to the decline of the West Virginia White butterfly, a rare woodland butterfly.  Sam’s research examines how garlic mustard kills wildflowers, why this butterfly lays its eggs on garlic mustard, how well caterpillars survive when they are eating garlic mustard and if garlic mustard’s invasion is pushing the West Virginia White towards extinction.
Research Advisor: Don Cipollini, PhD, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Director, Environmental Sciences PhD program, Wright State University.

VANDANA KRISHNAMURTHY, University of Hawaii (HI). BIA funded fieldwork (2011 – 2012): India – Ethnobotany, trade and population dynamics of the endemic Cycas species. Cycas circinalis and Cycas indica are two important species for adivasi (indigenous) groups in the Western Ghats of India. Due to trade pressure, these plants are decreasing in the wild.  Vandana’s research examines traditional knowledge of C. circinalis and C. indica harvest, biological responses of the population to harvest pressures, and market uses that steer the extensive harvest of the species.
Research Advisor: Tamara Ticktin, PhD, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

LISA OFFRINGA, City University of New York (NY) and the New York Botanical Garden. BIA funded fieldwork (2011 – 2012): Thailand – Identifying plants used by traditional healers for treatment for dementia. The prevalence of dementia is increasing worldwide in both industrialized and developing nations. Lisa’s research examines Thai medicinal plants with the potential to slow the progression of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to dementia, and treat the memory loss.  Conducting interviews with traditional doctors in Northern Thailand and Chemical analyses, Lisa was able to pinpoint a plant with positive effects on memory and brain chemistry.
Research Advisor: Michael J Balick, PhD, the New York Botanical Garden.

PIO SAQUI, University of Florida (FL).BIA funded fieldwork (2009 – 2012): Belize – Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A project to help revitalize Mopan Maya agricultural and ecological knowledge.Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of the Maya has been studied for its importance in human cultural survival worldwide. Pio’s research examines the ways which the Maya culture and its traditions are transmitted through the use of “slash and burn” (Milpa) agriculture systems in order to maintain cultural practices. It  will help revitalize traditional ecological knowledge in the Mopan Maya communities of Belize.
Research Advisor: John Richard Stepp, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Latin America Studies, University of Florida.

SUSHMA SHRESTHA, Miami University (OH). BIA funded fieldwork (2010 – 2012): Nepal – Integrating community forest ecological and ethnobotanical knowledge for biodiversity conservation.  Sushma research’s investigates scientific-ecological and local ethnobotanical knowledge at the Manaslu Conservation Area of Nepal (MCA). Using global localism as a research approach she investigates how participatory “ethnoecological” mapping of landscape resources contribute to “landscape ecological” patterns of diversity, how ecological diversity relates to ethnobotanical diversity, the structure and ecological status of cultural keystone species, and how ethnobotanical and ecological research findings can contribute toward adaptive collaborative management.
Research Advisor: Kimberly E Medley, PhD, Professor, Department of Geography, Miami University.

VIVIAN ZEIDEMANN, University of Florida (FL). BIA funded fieldwork (2009 – 2012): Brazil – Fostering sustainable forest-based livelihoods: the case of Brazil nut management (Brazil). Traditional people in the Amazon are dependent on forest resources for their livelihoods with Brazil nut as the main forest species harvested. Vivian’s research examines the variation of Brazil nut quality, access, and ultimately income generation across the Riozinho do Anfrísio Extractive Reserve (RDAER) in Brazil.
Research Advisor: Karen Kainer, PhD, Associate Professor of Forest Resources and Conservation/Latin American Studies, University of Florida.

ALISON HALE, University of Pittsburgh (PA). BIA funded fieldwork (2010 – 2011): Pennsylvania – Testing a novel mechanism of forest understory invasion by garlic mustard: short- and long-term impacts. In Pennsylvania’s forests, about 70% of all plants rely on a cooperative relationship with a unique group of fungi (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) to obtain the nutrients they need to survive. Alison’s research examines how toxic chemicals produced by garlic mustard, a widespread invasive plant, disrupt this beneficial synergy and destabilize the health of our native forests.  

OLYSSA STARRY, University of Maryland. BIA funded fieldwork (2010 – 2011): MarylandThe role of green roof plants in urban storm water management. Green roofs offer an important solution to the problem of urban storm water management, retaining as much as 80% of rainwater they receive from small storms. However, not enough is known about how much water these structures retain under different environmental and planting scenarios. Olyssa’s research examines the role of three species of Sedum in the rainwater retention of green roof systems, through careful measurement of water in the substrate and plant, as well as changes in the condition of the plants.

ARIKA VIRAPONGSE, University of Florida. BIA funded fieldwork (2009 – 2011): Brazil -Impact of market opportunities on livelihood strategies, decision-making and knowledge generation among burití palm leaf users. Arika’s research explores the factors that impact how different social groups participate in forest-product markets. Her case study is the handicraft market of buriti palm fiber artisans in the Maranhão state of Brazil. Better understanding of the relationship between local livelihoods and non-timber forest resources offers insights for improving the management and conservation of forests, while respecting the roles and needs of the people who use them.

SELENA A. AHMED, PhD. City University of New York/New York Botanical Garden, 2011 BIA funded fieldwork (2008 – 2010): China – biodiversity of wild tea populations

RACHEL MEYER, PhD. City University of New York/New York Botanical Garden BIA funded fieldwork (2010): India and China – history of eggplant domestication

CHRISTOPHER HECKEL, PhD candidate. University of Pittsburgh BIA funded fieldwork (2006 – 2009): Western Pennsylvania – effect of deer on Jack-in-the-Pulpit(Arisaema triphyllum)

BIANCA KNOLL, MS. University of California, Berkeley, 2006 BIA funded fieldwork (2006 – 2009): Costa Rica, Bolivia and Madagascar- ferns which clean up arsenic pollution

CASSANDRA QUAVE, PhD. Florida International University, 2008 BIA funded fieldwork (2006 – 2008): Italy – Antimicrobial plant extracts to combat drug-resistant staph

NAT BLETTER, PhD. City University of New York/New York Botanical Garden, 2006 BIA funded fieldwork (2003 – 2007): Peru and Mali – Cross-cultural medical ethnobotany

EMILY MOONEY, PhD. West Virginia University, 2007 BIA funded fieldwork (2004 – 2006): Pennlyvania, New York, Maryland and West Virginia- ethnobiology of American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolia)

JOHN PAUL, PhD. University of Pittsburgh, 2008 BIA funded fieldwork (2003 – 2006): Costa Rica – causes of rarity in Psychotria

DANICA (HARBAUGH) REYNAUD, PhD. University of California, Berkeley, 2007 BIA funded fieldwork (2003 – 2006): Pacific and Australia – ethnobotany of Sandalwoods

CHRISTIANE EHRINGHAUS, PhD. Yale University School of Forestry, 2005 BIA funded fieldwork (2003 – 2005): Brazil – non-timber forest products of the Amazon

VICENTE GARCIA, PhD. University of California, Berkeley, 2006 BIA funded fieldwork (2004 – 2005): Pacific, Thailand, South East Asia – biodiversity/ethnomedicine of Piper

BRUCE HOFFMAN, PhD. University of Hawaii, 2009 BIA funded fieldwork (2001 – 2005): Suriname – traditional plant knowledge of Amerindians and Maroons BIA funded fieldwork (1995 – 1997): Guyana- sustainable harvest of Heteropsis flexuosa

KAREN CRAWLEY KEARNEY, PhD. City University of New York/New York Botanical Garden, 2005 BIA funded fieldwork (1998 – 2005): Mexico – traditional plant pharmacology of Quichol women

SARAH KHAN, PhD. City University of New York/New York Botanical Garden, 2006 BIA funded fieldwork (2002 – 2005): India and China – traditional anti-diabetic medicinal plants

ADAM EDWARDS, MS. Florida International University, 2004 BIA funded fieldwork (2002 – 2004): Southeastern North America – caffeine content of Yaupon Holly(Ilex vomitoria)

MICHAEL GILMORE, PhD. Miami University, 2004 BIA funded fieldwork (2001 – 2004): Peruvian Amazon – Maijuna ecology and ethnobotany

ALYSSA HANNA, PhD student. West Virginia University BIA funded fieldwork (2001 – 2004): Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia - Impact of invasive species on American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolia)

ANYA HINKLE, PhD. University of California, Berkeley, 2005 BIA funded fieldwork (2001 – 2004): French Polynesia – dispersal of introduced medicinal plants

RACHEL COLLINS, PhD. University of Pittsburgh, 2003 BIA funded fieldwork (2000 – 2003): West Virginia and Pennsylvania – oak forest regeneration

LAUREN RAZ, PhD. New York University/New York Botanical Garden, 2004 BIA funded fieldwork (2000 – 2003): Cuba – West Indian Dioscoreaceae, revision of Rajania

TIFFANY KNIGHT, PhD. University of Pittsburgh, 2002 BIA funded fieldwork (2002): Western Pennsylvania – deer herbivory impact on white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

STEFAN SCHNITZER, PhD. University of Pittsburgh, 2001 BIA funded fieldwork (1997 – 2001): Panama, Costa Rica and Pennsylvania – treefall gaps role in forest regeneration and biodiversity maintenance

 DARRON COLLINS, PhD. Tulane University, 2001 BIA funded fieldwork (1998 – 2000): Guatemala – ethnobotany of the Q’eqchi’

SYLVIAN G RAZAFIMANDIMBISON, PhD. Missouri Botanical Garden, 2000 BIA funded fieldwork (1996 – 1997, 2000): Madagascar – revision of Rubiaceae

KRISTINE STEWART, PhD. Florida International University, 2000 BIA funded fieldwork (1997 – 1999): Cameroon – ethnobotany of Red Stinkwood (Prunus africana)

DENNIS J MILANOWSKI, PhD. Washington University, 1998 BIA funded fieldwork (1996 – 1998): Peru – medicinal compounds of Croton section Cyclostigma

ARMAND RANDRIANASOLO, PhD. University of Missouri – Saint Louis/Missouri Botanical Garden, 1998 BIA funded fieldwork (1996 – 1997): Madagascar – Rhus, Micronychia, Protorhus