Davis Botanical Society Grant Winners: 'How I Spent My Field Season'

You've heard of New York Times' best-selling author, Mark Teague, and his book, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" (Dragonfly Books), right? 

Here's the Davis Botanical Society version: "How I Spent My Field Season."  Two student grant recipients will present their field research at a Zoom meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19.

The meeting, open to all interested persons, begins at 5 p.m. The  student presentations are scheduled from 5:10 to 6:10 p.m. Follow this Zoom link to be connected to the Zoom presentation: https://ucdavis.zoom.us/j/98395098782

Speakers are scientists:

  • Shawn Christensen, a doctoral student in the Microbiology Graduate Group, discussing "Nectar Microbes Induce Pollen Germination to Access Scarce Nutrients" 
  • Maxwell "Max" Odland, who received his master's degree in June 2020, discussing "Using Prescribed Fire and Thinning to Restore Understory Plant Communities in Sierra Nevada Mixed Conifer Forests."

Shawn, a member of the lab of community ecologist Rachel Vannette of the UC Davis Department of the Entomology and Nematology since January, anticipates being awarded a doctorate in 2023 or 2024. Says Shawn: "The pandemic is not helping me out there!" 

An evolutionary biologist turned microbiologist, Shawn is "broadly interested in microbial interactions/symbioses with plant-pollinator systems, weird evolutionary traits, and crosswords."

Shawn, who holds a bachelor of science degree in evolutionary biology from University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied "reducing ecological impacts of phosphorus runoff, ethnobotany and domestication traits in Brassica rapa, botanical field excursions of all kinds, and the evolution of chemical sets in the early origins of life."

In the Vannette lab, Shawn is currently studying nectar-dwelling Acinetobacter and other nectar microbes and their potential influences on pollen for nutrient procurement, as well as the metabolomics of solitary bee pollen provisions.

Max, who received his master's degree in June 2020, was a former member of Ecology Graduate Group and affiliated with the John Muir Institute for the Environment. He is currently the forest resilence program manager at the California Association of Resource Conservation District

While a student at UC Davis, Max was specifically interested "in the effects of prescribed fire and thinning on diversity in fire-dependent western forests. Specifically, how do the differing disturbances that result from different combinations of management actions affect diversity in understory plant communities fine-scale environmental heterogeneity in mixed-conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada?"

The Davis Botanical Society is the support organization for two UC Davis botanical collections that benefit all Californians: the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity and the Botanical Conservatory.  Membership benefits include a subscription to the semi-annual newsletter, Lasthenia (name relates to the goldfields in the botanical family Asteraceae). Membership benefits also include invitations to talks, field trips, and other events, as well as a substantial discount on the price of field trips and classes. 

For further information on the Zoom meeting, contact Herbarium assistant curator Jennifer Poore at jpoore@ucdavis.edu.