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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Arboretum Award Recipients

Research at the Arboretum spans a diverse range of disciplines, from organismic and evolutionary biology, molecular and developmental biology, and plant physiology to studies in ecology, environment, and biodiversity. The Arboretum supports investigations in our world-renowned living collection, herbarium, library and archives, research laboratories, and in Asia by awarding fellowships and awards to students, post-doctoral researchers, and professionals of the biological and horticultural sciences. Meet our awardees below.

2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011


2020 Awardees


Diana Castillo Diaz

Ashton Award
PhD Candidate, Guangxi University, China

As important members of tropical and subtropical ecosystems, Ficus species have specialized requirements that limit the establishment of new seedlings. Diana will examine the limiting factors for seedling recruitment using eight species of Ficus in a transitional tropical to subtropical forest environment across different microsites and host plants. The Ashton Award will support her research in China.


Bailey Cowart

Sinnott Award
Undergraduate Student, Boston University

Using multiple species of the Arboretum’s Acer collection, Bailey will examine and compare the water stress response and stomatal arrangement in both leaves and samara, the photosynthetically active fruits. Compared to leaves, samaras are a relatively neglected photosynthetic tissue and little is known about their contribution to photosynthesis and water responses.


Julie Dawson

Jewett Prize
Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison

As lead PI, Julie is collaborating with Al Kovaleski (Putnam Fellow), Michael Demchik (UW Stevens Point), Lois Braun (University of Minnesota), Scott Brainard (UW Madison and Savanna Institute), Claire Luby (UW, Madison), and Keefe Keeley (Savanna Institute) to sequence the genome of American hazelnut (Corylus americana). American hazelnut is an important fruit crop, and with the help of better genomic tools, it can be developed into an alternative, more sustainable oilseed crop.


Ryan Fuller

Sargent Award
PhD Candidate, University of Chicago

Species identification in Rhododendron species subsection Lapponica is difficult due to the recent rapid diversification that occurred in the Hengduan Mountains in China. Using over 300 georeferenced herbarium specimens, Ryan will quantify leaf and floral variation to reveal the distinguishing traits among and within species and shed light on the evolutionary history of this group.


Adam Negrin

Jewett Prize
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Lehman College (CUNY)

Adam will investigate the phenology and localization of secondary metabolites in flowers, fruits, and vegetative tissues of Tilia species (Malvaceae), and members of the Theaceae and Aquifoliaceae.


Jenna Rindy

Deland Award
PhD Student, Boston University

Fine particulate matter, a common pollutant, can be removed from the atmosphere by trees, but how does this removal impact the health of the tree itself? Jenna will quantify the particulate matter found on the leaves of trees in the Arboretum and investigate the potential negative impact on the leaves using a scanning electron microscope.


Endro Setiawan

Ashton Award
Master’s Student, Universitas Nasional, Indonesia

As the local botanist and field assistant, Endro has collaborated for decades with scientists from the Arboretum and elsewhere. Now as a Master’s student, Endro will examine the response of orangutans to differences in plant species and food availability in disturbed and non-disturbed sites. His research will inform management discussions at the national park while training the next generation of local botanists. The Ashton Award will support his research in Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesia.


Tim Utteridge

Sargent Award
Head of Science, Royal Botanic Gardens, UK

With a focus on the systematics of woody plants of SE Asia, Tim will study the herbarium specimens from the island of New Guinea. His work will improve the New Guinea collections by identifying, naming and verifying hundreds of herbarium sheets in the collection.


Zhengyang Wang

Hu Student/Postdoctoral Exchange Award
PhD Candidate, Harvard University

Zhengyang is collaborating closely with Wenbin Ju, a PhD Candidate at the Chengdu Institute of Botany in China. The Hengduan Mountains of south-western China is a biodiversity hot spot, home to half of the world’s Rhododendron species. Zhengyang and Wenbin will investigate the role of pollinator communities across an elevational gradient on the origin and maintenance of Rhododendron species diversity and its evolutionary implications.


Yingtong Wu

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, University of Missouri

The potentially rare and endangered Maple-leaf Oak (Quercus acerifolia) has a maple-like leaf shape and a shrub-like growth pattern. It is unclear if it is a genetically unique species or if its features are shaped primarily by the environment in which it is found. Utilizing the Arboretum’s extensive wild collection of Q. acerifolia in addition to new collections from it and closely related species in its native range, Yingtong will combine genomic analyses with morphological measurements to understand if Q. acerifolia is truly a genetically rare species.


2019 Awardees


Jedaidah Chilufya

Cunin/Sigal Award
PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jedaidah will collect nodules from several woody legumes in the Arboretum’s living collections. After isolating the rhizobia present in the nodules, she will innoculate soybeans with the isolated rhizobia and test symbiosis efficiency to see if it boosts soybean yields.


Steve Gougherty

Deland Award
PhD Student, Boston University

Steve is developing a new framework to consider nutrient use efficiency (NUE) in plants beyond the traditional methods focused on vegetative tissues. He will measure the carbon and nitrogen costs of reproduction in samaras, a type of fruit. Samaras are green during seed development, suggesting active photosynthesis, but tend to lose their pigments as seeds mature. He will assess whether carbon acquisition and nutrient recycling during reproduction are large enough to influence whole plant NUE.


Kathryn Mauz

Sargent Award
Independent Scholar

The Jesup Collection of North American Woods, a collection of nineteenth-century log specimens, was the product of a collaboration between the Arnold Arboretum during Charles Sargent’s tenure and the American Museum of Natural History. Kathryn will document the geographic origins of these specimens using archival and herbarium resources related to the original project. With robust documentation, the specimens could contribute meaningfully to scientific research, for example, by analyses of tree rings to address climate history.


Harikrishnan V. N. Radhamoni

Ashton Award
PhD Candidate, Yale University

Hari will study the variation in herbaceous plant diversity along a rainfall gradient in seasonally dry tropical forest in India. This study will help make predictions on the response to environmental change. The Ashton Award will support his research in Western Ghats, India.


Aidan Short

Ashton Award
PhD Student, Guangxi University, China

Aidan will investigate the abiotic conditions that limit the geographical distribution of mangroves to tropical and subtropical environments and the adaptations that differentiate these tree species, specifically the tropical Kandelia candel and subtropical Kandelia obovata. Understanding the differences will enable more accurate predictions of how natural mangrove populations will respond to rising annual minimum temperatures. The Ashton Award will support his research in China and Malaysia.


Wenbin Zhou

Hu Award
PhD Student, North Carolina State University

Wenbin will focus on the identification of leaf endophytes (fungal and bacterial endosymbionts) present in several eastern Asian (EA)-eastern North American (ENA) disjunct lineages growing in the Arnold Arboretum’s living collections. He’ll compare his results on endophytes that were isolated from host plants from different locations (Boston and Raleigh) to shed light on whether divergence in endophyte diversity plays a role in the EAE- NA phytogeographic pattern.


2018 Awardees


Meghan Blumstein

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, Holbrook Lab, Harvard University

Meghan will quantify genetic variation within a population of Quercus rubrum (red oak) and compare this to the variation found across the entire range using Arboretum trees collected from different locations in the wild. Quantifying genetic variation will improve modeling used to predict the ability of plant species to adapt in the face of climate change.


Margaret Grose               

Sargent Award
Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne, Australia

Margaret will focus on EH Wilson’s collecting trip to Australia in 1920-21. Unlike Wilson’s trips to China, much less is known about this trip. Margaret will dive into the Arboretum library archives to examine Wilson’s field notes, letters, and images documenting Wilson’s time in Australia.


Robin Hayward

Ashton Award
PhD Student, University of Stirling, Scotland

With the prevalence of logging in tropical forests, Robin is interested in understanding the recovery of the plant community after logging and the long term impacts on the forest ecosystem. The Ashton Award will support his research in Malaysia.


Avalon Owens

Cunin/Sigal Award
PhD Student, Tufts University

Previously, Avalon surveyed firefly populations in multiple sites and the Arboretum was the most species-diverse firefly habit found in the Boston area. With the Sigal Award, she will examine how artificial light impacts firefly courtship using LEDs of varying colors and intensities. This could lead to the development of firefly friendly lighting.


Natalia Pabón-Mora

Jewett Prize
Associate Professor, University of Antioquia in Colombia

Natalia is interested in understanding the evolution of flower and fruit development and the morphological changes driving diversification of flowering plants. At the Arboretum, she will focus on fruit diversity by comparing morphological and anatomical features and transcriptomic data of members of the Rubiaceae with distinct fruit types.


Krittika Petprakob

Ashton Award
PhD Student, University of Maryland

Droughts are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity in tropical regions. Krittika quantifies the variation in drought response in trees to understand the impact of climate change on tropical forests. The Ashton Award will support her research in Thailand.


Erin Pierce

Deland Award
PhD Student, Templer Lab, Boston University

Erin will measure ozone levels and tree growth at the Arboretum. Combined with the data from the Arboretum’s National Atmospheric Deposition Program monitoring station, Erin will evaluate the role of air pollution on urban ecosystem health.


Harold Suarez Baron

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, University of Antioquia in Colombia

In Aristolochia (dutchman’s pipe), the trichomes (hairs) found on flowers are important for attracting and retaining flies for pollination. Harold focuses on the genetic mechanisms underlying trichome development in this non-model plant.


Nathan Swenson

Arnold Arboretum Genomic Initiative and Sequencing Award
Acer griseum genome

Nathan Swenson (Associate Professor, University of Maryland) is developing genomic resources for the Sapindales with a focus on Acer species. His laboratory is currently sequencing the leaf transcriptomes of ~90 Acer species and the genome of A. saccharum. With this award, he will sequence the genome of A. griseum, an important species that produces parthenocarpic fruit. Two reference genomes and transcriptions from throughout the genus provides a valuable infrastructure for future studies in Acer.


Dong Wang

Sargent Award
Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dong is interested in the strategies that long-lived woody legumes use to interact with rhizobia, the nitrogen-fixing bacteria the live in nodules on the roots. He will examine the rhizobia present in root nodules at the Arboretum.


2017 Awardees


Michael and Scott Dietrich

Sargent Award
Professor, Dartmouth College (MD)
Co-Curator, Hong Kong Stair Archive (SD)

Michael and Scott Dietrich are brothers with a common passion for EH Wilson. Pulling from the over 7000 images in the Arboretum library archives, they will search for the perfect images for their upcoming book, The Photography of Ernest Henry Wilson.


Margaret Kosmala and David Basler

Sinnott  Award and Sargent Award
Postdoctoral Fellows, Harvard University, Richardson Lab

In two closely tied projects utilizing an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) and temperature loggers, Margaret and David will acquire high-resolution multispectral photographs and localized temperatures of the Arboretum over time. With this data, they will examine the relationship between plant phenology (the timing of life events) and genetic adaptation in response to local topography and temperature.


Jessica Savage

Sinnott Award
Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota

Expanding on her research as a Putnam Fellow, Jessica will visit the Arboretum with her students to examine the relationship between the re-activation of water transport in the spring and plant phenology or life events such as flowering or leaf out.


Agusti Randi

Ashton Award
Master’s Student, Bagor Agricultural University, Indonesia

Randi focuses on the taxonomy, ecology and conservation of wild palms (Genus Pinanga). The Ashton Award will support his research in Indonesian Borneo.


Stephanie Schmiege

Ashton Award
PhD Student, Columbia University

Stephanie focuses on the mechanisms driving the response of conifers to stressful environmental conditions, particularly drought caused by climate change. The Ashton Award will support her research in Vietnam.


Asimina triloba genome

Arnold Arboretum Genomic Initiative and Sequencing Award

The North American paw paw, Asimina triloba (L.) Dun, is one of the few fruit tree crops that is native to North America and the only species in the family adapted to temperate climates. Aureliano Bombarely, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech, and Jose I. Hormaza, Professor at IHSM La Mayora in Spain, will sequence the genome of accession 12708*A, our oldest representative of this species in the living collection.

Fagus grandifolia genome

Arnold Arboretum Genomic Initiative and Sequencing Award

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) scientists,  Susan Strickler (Research Associate), Fay-Wei Li (Assistant Professor) and Eric Richards (Professor and VP research) will develop genomic resources for North American beech (Fagus grandifolia), an economically important hardwood species. The genomes of an insect-resistant accession will be compared to a susceptible varieties allowing the characterization of genes involved in resistance.


2016 Awardees


Kuo-Fang Chung

Sargent Award
Associate Research Fellow, Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Kuo-Fang Chung will explore the rich herbarium and living collections of Berberis to clarify the taxonomy of the genus.


Danilo Fernando

Jewett Prize
Associate Professor at the State University of New York

At the Arboretum, Danilo will focus on the reproductive biology of Actinidia arguta (hardy kiwi), a dioecious species whose flowers are functionally unisexual.


Meghna Krishnadas

Ashton Award
PhD candidate, Yale University

Meghna focuses on the mechanisms driving tree diversity loss in disturbed tropical forests. The Ashton Award will support her research in the Western Ghats, India.


Meng Li

Hu Student/Postdoctoral Exchange Award
Ph.D student, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Li is interested in the role of hybridization on species diversification.  As part of his Hu Award, Li will spend one year at the Arboretum to examine hybridization in Sorbus.


Jonathan Mahoney

Deland Award
Master’s student, University of Connecticut

As part of the Aronia breeding program, Jonathan Mahoney is investigating the mating systems and compatibility issues of intergeneric hybridization between Aronia and related taxa.


Adam Roddy

Jewett Prize
Post-doctoral fellow, Yale University

Examining 25 species of basal angiosperms in the Arboretum’s living collections, Adam will measure physiological traits associated with water balance to examine the trade-offs between water transport, water storage, and the ability to maintain turgid and showy flowers.


Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan

Sargent Award
Visiting Fellow of the Arnold Arboretum

Dan is developing techniques for rapid and inexpensive DNA extraction as well as cultivating collections of extracted DNA libraries and silica-dried leaves for future phylogenetic research.


Alexander Susko

Deland Award
PhD candidate, University of Minnesota

Alex will collect and sequence deciduous azaleas originally collected across the geographic and environmental range to identify genetic targets of selection associated with differing environmental responses in Rhododendron.


Callin Switzer    

Sinnott Award
PhD Candidate, Harvard University, Hopkins Lab

Kalmia has a unique method of pollen release in which the pollen is catapulted out of the anthers when a pollinator lands on the flowers. Callin will examine this unique pollination method using high-speed videography.


2015 Awardees


Stephen Decina

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, Boston University, Templer and Hutyra Labs

Steve aims to understand how urbanization affects biogeochemical cycles. By comparing collection sites in urban areas, including the Arboretum, he will quantify nitrogen deposition in multiple urban sites.


Nalaka Geekiyanage

Ashton Award
PhD Candidate, Kyoto University, Japan

The Ashton Award will support Nalaka’s research at the Nonggang National Nature Reserve in southwestern China where he will focus on the drought response of tropical trees at different topological levels.


Jianhua Li

Sargent Award
Associate Professor of Biology, Hope College

A former Arnold Arboretum senior scientist, Jianhua will return to the Arboretum for his sabbatical focusing on the reconstruction of the early tree of life of Acer. The evolutionary relationships of this important and diverse tree genus has, thus far, remained largely unresolved hindering our understanding of the natural history of maples.


Luke Keogh

Sargent Award
Post-doctoral Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Germany

Luke’s research focuses on the role of Wardian Cases, an early 19th century invention, in the movement of live plants between continents. Using the Arboretum’s archival collections, he will delve into the role of the United States in this global transfer of plants.


2014 Awardees


Janice Chan

Ashton Award
PhD candidate, Harvard University, Moorcroft Lab

Janice is studying the relationship between plant functional traits and plant biodiversity on the composition of diverse forests. Her research will be conducted at the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS) site of Bukit Timah in Singapore.


Bryan Connolly

Cunin/Sigal Award
PhD Candidate, University of Connecticut, Brand Lab

Aronia (chokeberry) has low genetic diversity which reduces its ability to adapt to new threats, such as pest outbreaks or changing climates. Bryan is interested in developing new Aronia hybrids to increase genetic diversity by performing crosses with Aronia, Sorbus, and other related genera in the Arboretum collections.


Laura Garrison

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, Brown University, Edwards Lab

Focusing on the Arboretum’s Viburnum collection, Laura is examining the relationship between diversity in morphological characters and the response to climate change.


Andrew Groover

Sargent Award
Geneticist, USDA Forest Service

Andrew will perform RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) on cambium and wood forming tissues of diverse trees in the Arboretum. Potentially important regulatory genes expressed in these tissues will be identified and analyzed as a first step to understanding the evolution of woody growth.


Ling Guo

Jewett Prize
Curator, Beijing Botanic Garden

Utilizing the Arboretum’s Malus collection, Ling will conduct research to improve the databases and knowledge of ornamental crabapples as a Registration Authority. Her database will focus on the flowers of Malus to improve the understanding of flowering time.


Kristel Schoonderwoerd

Kristel Schoonderwoerd

Deland Award
Master’s Student, Erasmus Mundus Master Program in Evolutionary Biology

At the Arboretum, Kristel will study reproductive traits, including female gametophye development and seed development, of Franklinia alatamaha and Stewartia ovata.


2013 Awardees


Rosanne Healy

Sargent Award
Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota

Rosanne focuses on ectomycorrhizal fungi that are present on roots of trees in well-spaced habitats like the Arboretum. She plans to sequence, identify and compare the fungal partners on the roots of Oak trees present at the Arboretum with those at the Harvest Forest. Matching funds for this award was generously provided by the Harvard Forest.


Ha Thanh Nguyen

Ashton Award
PhD Candidate, Boston University, Hutyra Lab

Ha is studying the impact of logging in peat swamp forests in Borneo and how this has affected the ecology of Shorea albida. Ha’s research spatially overlaps with Professor Ashton’s previous work in Borneo.


Kathryn Weglarz

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, Utah State University, von Dohlen Lab

While much focus has been placed on understanding plant-insect interactions, Kathryn’s goal is to delve specifically into the interaction between the host plant and the bacterial symbionts present in the saliva of the insects.


Yong-Jiang Zhang

Hu Student/Postdoctoral Exchange Award
Post-doctoral Fellow, Harvard University, Holbrook Lab

In some species of Acer, stem pressure generation during thawing results in sap production which is used to make maple syrup. This is in contrast to most trees which exude sap during freezing. Working in the Acer collection, Yong-Jiang aims to understand the physiological mechanisms of stem pressure generation and the role of xylem structure in this mechanism.


2012 Awardees


Laura Lagomarsino

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, Harvard University, Davis Lab

Laura is studying the evolution of secondary woodiness in the Lobelioideae, a primarily temperate herbaceous group of plants. The Deland Award will enable Laura to travel to Peru to collect plant specimens for the Herbarium and for her studies of wood anatomy.


Jorge Lora

Jewett Prize
Post-doctoral Fellow, Experimental Research Stations (CSIC), Spain

Using members of the Arboretum’s Rosaceae collection, Jorge will compare ovule morphology from the earliest stages to maturity as well as the expression pattern of a gene thought to be important in ovule development.


Hugh McAllister

Sargent Award
Honorary Lecturer, University of Liverpool

Hugh is interested in examining the evolutionary relationships of species within genera. By comparing chromosome numbers, he seeks to clarify the relationships between diploid and polyploid species. Previous visits to the Arnold Arboretum and the Harvard University Herbaria led to the publication of monographs on genera Betula and Sorbus.


Bharti Sharma

Jewett Prize
Post-doctoral Fellow, Harvard University, Kramer Lab

Bharti is interested in the evolution of petal identity and development. Capitalizing on the tremendous floral diversity found in the barbarry family (Berberidaceae), she will compare petal development using microscopy and comparative gene expression techniques in Epimedium rubum and Berberis gilgiana.


Claire Williams

Sargent Award
Distinguished Scholar, Forest History Society

Using the Arboretum’s conifer collection, Dr. Williams will determine whether pollen dispersed during the day or at night is more highly represented within the micropyle of female cones.


2011 Awardees


E. Scherbatskoy

Deland Award
Undergraduate Student, University of Colorado, Boulder

Working in the Friedman Lab with Julien Bachelier, the focus is on the comparative morphology of female gametophytes in diverse conifers in an effort to shed light on the evolution of female gametophyte development


Juan Losada       

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, Aula Dei Experimental Station–CSIC, Spain

Juan focuses on the reproductive biology of apples (Malus spp.). Juan will spend the summer working at the Weld Hill Research Building to expand his studies to include species in the Arboretum’s Magnolia and Stewartia collections.


Mariana Oliveira e Castro

Deland Award
Master’s Student, University of Coimbra, Portugal

In collaboration with John and Sally Perkins of the American Rhododendron Society, Mariana will determine the ploidy level (number of chromosome pairs) of 50 specimens of Rhododendron calendulaceum held in the Arboretum’s living collection.


Preeti Rao

Deland Award
PhD Candidate, Boston University, Hutyra Lab

Preeti aims to understand how urbanization affects ecosystems. By comparing two plots in the Arboretum’s Bussey Brook Meadow with plots at the Harvard Forest and other areas in between, she hopes to quantify the effects of urbanization on nitrogen and carbon dynamics. Her project is a collaboration with Adrien Finzi of Boston University and Arboretum Senior Research Scientist Peter Del Tredici.