ANPS Supports Students of Arkansas Botany

Arkansas Native Plant Society (ANPS) awarded one grant and one scholarship, each in the amount of $1,000, to students of Arkansas botany in 2013: Eric Hearth of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville received a Delzie Demaree Research Grant and Brett (Ty) Murdoch, also of U of A, received an Aileen McWilliam Scholarship.

Eric Hearth is pursuing a Ph.D. in forest ecology. His research, under the supervision of Dr. Steven L. Stephenson and Dr. Johnnie Gentry, concerns the distribution, habitat requirements, and ecological relationships of six alien invasive species at Pea Ridge National Military Park in Benton County, namely, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum), and multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). After the initial Pea Ridge survey, the project will be expanded to include Devil’s Den State Park, Hobbs State Park, and selected areas on private property. Northwest Arkansas data will be compared to comparable data collected for the same target species in the central Appalachians. Grant funds will be used to cover travel, equipment, and soil analysis expenses.

Ty Murdoch is an amateur naturalist with a passion for botany. As a U of A undergrad, he had two local flora classes with Dr. Gentry, dendrology and plant taxonomy, “which have substantially increased the time it takes me to hike a mile.” Ty will begin an M.S. program at U of A in the fall under the direction of Dr. C. L. Sagers, bringing with him an impressive record of undergraduate research and scholarship as well as extensive field experience and natural history instruction. As a college freshman, he held the position of research assistant, doing vegetation surveys for a study of the effects of forest management on rattlesnakes. He worked several summers at the Ozark Natural Science Center in Madison County as a field instructor for science programs. As a fourth year undergraduate, he received an Environmental Protection Agency research fellowship, allowing him to stay in school for an extra year and providing a summer internship as a botanist with the New England National Wetland Assessment team. He spent last summer in West Virginia, as a research technician with the US Forest Service. Ty plans to use his scholarship funds to purchase binoculars and a microscope, which he considers “essential tools for a budding naturalist.” And he continues: “Plants are amazing organisms, and I’ll be continually trying for a closer look and a better understanding.”

The Arkansas Native Plant society is proud and delighted to support the academic efforts of two such promising students of Arkansas botany as Eric Hearth and Ty Murdoch. We wish them the best of luck in their professional and personal pursuits.

Article by Eric Sundell, President of ANPS

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