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.
Research Scientist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Masters Student, Tufts University
Faculty, South China Botanical Garden
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Georgia
Undergraduate Student, University of Connecticut
PhD Student, Nature Conservation Foundation, India
Israel Lopes da Cunha Neto
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University
PhD Student, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota, Duluth
PhD Student, University of Colorado, Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens
AA Genomics Initiative and Sequencing Award
HUH Fellow, Harvard University
Master’s Student, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
Jonas is focused on telling the botanical, cultural and natural history story of edible nuts. He has published a book in German on the walnut family, the Juglandaceae, and is currently working on the English translation. He is also working on a new book on the genus Corylus, the hazels. At the Arboretum, Jonas will closely examine, illustrate, and photograph these plants in the living collections and herbarium for his publications.
DVM Candidate and Master’s Student, Tufts University
Important members of the ecosystem, bats face many threats and challenges. Vanessa will set-up acoustic monitoring of bats at the Arnold Arboretum to help understand the role of urbanization on bat populations and species diversity, and to aid in conservation efforts. Vanessa will design community walks highlighting areas of bat activity in the Arboretum.
Research Scientist, Smithsonian Institution
John Kress is working on a guide book about the trees of North America. This reference will include thousands of images of leaves, flowers, cones and other parts of the plants. He will visit the Arboretum to take photographs of trees in the living collections.
Arnold Arboretum Genomics Initiative and Sequencing Award
PhD Student, University of Connecticut
Acer macrophyllum genome
Susan will lead the effort to create a reference genome and epigenome for Acer macrophyllum (bigleaf maple). This project, together with the reference genomes, transcriptomes, and epigenomes developed using Arboretum accessions of A. saccharum, A. negundo, and A. griseum, will provide genomic resources that will benefit the entire scientific community and provide needed tools for the detailed analysis of the life and times of Acer at the genomic level.
Principal Investigator, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Bruno focuses on the uneven distribution of biological diversity over space and time. At the Arboretum, he will focus on North and Central American members of the genus Lupinus present in the herbarium. These specimens are important representatives of the early colonisation of high elevation habitats and will shed light on species diversification in the Americas.
PhD Candidate, Stanford University
Suzanne is studying the role of mycorrhizal interactions in shaping aboveground forest diversity and belowground nutrient dynamics. Using a mix of fieldwork in the Dipterocarp forests of Southeast Asia, greenhouse experiments, and molecular sequencing techniques, she is interested in understanding how soil microbes influence both primary and disturbed forests. The Ashton Award will support her research in Singapore.
Diana Castillo Diaz
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Michael and Scott Dietrich
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.