2015 Undergraduate Research Fellows

Meet the 2015 Undergraduate Research Fellows and view this year’s Center for Tree Science Undergraduate Research Symposium.


2015 CTS URF-Mary BabiezMary Babiez

DePaul University
Title: The correlation between basal isoprene emissions and climate of the native range within oak species
Advisor: Dr. Mark Potosnak
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

ABSTRACT:  Isoprene is a chemical that is emitted by various plant species and plays an important role in the chemistry of the atmosphere.  When it reacts with pollutants in the air, such as nitric oxides, the precursor to ozone (O3) is formed.  In this experiment we measured leaf emissions from 20 different oak species at the Morton Arboretum (Lisle, Illinois).  The aim was to better understand differences in isoprene emissions across oak species.   Since emissions have been found to protect leaves against brief periods of heat stress, we hypothesized that oaks native to areas with greater variations in temperature will have higher isoprene emissions than species native to regions with smaller variations in temperature.  This study did not find evidence to support this hypothesis, though it could be, in part, due to lack of adequate climate data and information about the specific geographical ranges of species.  When we continued to analyze the data, we found a positive correlation between isoprene emissions from oaks and actual temperature at the Morton Arboretum on the days that isoprene emissions were measured.  This result, however, only looks at the measurements pooled across all species, and does not consider individual species.  


2015 CTS URF-Bruce Jake BergerBruce Jake Berger

University of Wisconsin - Madison
Title: Isolating the invasive mechanisms of non-native canopy trees on white oak and sugar maple seedling growth
Advisor: Dr. Robert Fahey
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

ABSTRACT:  Over the past 300 years, several non-native tree species have been introduced to the United States for ornamental, urban, and other ecological purposes. Since their introduction, many of these species have escaped from their intended habitats, and have spread to invade forests across the country. Three such species are the Norway maple (Acer platanoides), Amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense), and the Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila). It is believed that once these species are able to establish themselves in the native canopy, they can have negative effects on the native seedlings growing in the understory. The purpose of this study is to better understand these relationships and how they affect native and invasive seedling growth. In order to observe these relationships, the invasive tree species were compared to the native White oak (Quercus alba) and Sugar maple (Acer saccharum).  Subsets of each of these five species were planted underneath large, preexisting trees of all five of those same species. After three years of growth, it was discovered that the native seedling species had been nearly unaffected by the type of canopy tree under which they were grown, and the invasive seedlings grew significantly more underneath the native canopy rather than their own invasive canopy. This could be due to the invasive seedlings attempting to outcompete their conspecific canopy tree, but taking advantage of certain conditions that only exist underneath the native species. Further studies could observe different relationships between invasive and native species, and be done in a more controlled environment where these canopy effects could be more isolated.


CTS URF-Jacob CerminarJacob Cerminar

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Title: Biosolids and biochars initial effects on environmental quality in urban soil
Advisor: Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science

ABSTRACT:  Urban soils are usually degraded, artificial, and are subject to anthropogenic influences. This study assesses the impacts of four treatments:  biochar, biosolids, biochar/biosolid, and null; and three soil types mimicking either a forest, urban, or a median between the two known as “tree”. Across all soil amendments significant differences were found among biosolids and biochar/biosolids. Biosolids had increased nitrate, phosphate, and soil respiration when combined with biohcar or alone. Biochar alone did not have difference in nitrate, phosphate, or soil respiration when compared to null. Across the soil types, forest soil and urban soil were the only soils to show significant differences. Forest soils had greater nitrate, phosphate, and soil respiration values compared to urban soil. The tree soil did not show any difference compared to the urban soil in nitrate, phosphate, or soil respiration. This study suggests that biochar and biosolids may not initially have a positive effect on preserving environmental quality for urban soils. It also suggests that our creation of a mix between an urban soil and a forest soil may not yield difference in preserving environmental quality. 


CTS URF-Angélica Bannwart LopesAngélica Bannwart Lopes

West Virginia University & Universidade Federal de Viçosa - Viçosa, MG, Brazil
Title: Testing the accuracy of imaging software to measure tree root volumes
Advisor: Dr. Jason Miesbauer
Funding provided by: Center for Tree Science


CTS URF-Erin Pfarr Erin Pfarr

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Title: Genome sizing of wild collected weigela and weigela cultivars
Advisor: Joseph Rothleutner
Funding provided by: The Daniel P. Haerther Charitable Trust

PDF iconGenome Sizing and Ploidy Estimations of Weigela (PDF)


CTS URF-Nick SteichmannNick Steichmann

Augustana College
Title: Hybridization across the Bur Oak Range
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Hipp
Funding provided by:  The National Science Foundation - Research Experiences for Undergraduates


Watch the 2015 Center for Tree Science Undergraduate Research Fellowship Symposium