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Alumni News

Find out what past Center for Tree Science Undergraduate Researchers have been doing since their time at The Morton Arboretum.


Fall 2019 Update

Bruce “Jake” Berger (2015) spent the summer of 2019 working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago. This biology internship involved monitoring and modeling invasive fish populations and movements. Jake will be graduating this December from Indiana University Bloomington, with an M.S. in Environmental Science and Master of Public Affairs, focused on Water Resource Management. Group blog posts archive.

Nick Steichmann (2015) is pursuing a PhD at the University of South Carolina, working in the Speiser Lab. His interests include Biology, Marine Invertebrates, Scallops, Shrimp, Chitons, and Conch. Nick let us know the 2 summers he spent at the Arboretum helped him be a more confident presenter, ask more meaningful questions, and discover new opportunities in research he wouldn't have otherwise known about! 

Mackenzie Coden (2016) is currently a Research Technician performing immunology research at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Mackenzie has presented research at various regional and national conferences, published two papers last year, and has several papers in preparation. Mackenzie's blog posts.

Kasey Pham (2016) received a department fellowship to attend the University of Florida, pursuing a PhD in Botany/Plant Biology, and is working in the Laboratory of Molecular Systematics & Evolutionary Genetics at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The project she pitched for her PhD dissertation work was developed at the Arboretum! Kasey's blog posts.

Amy Byrne (2017) is now working as a Global Tree Conservation Assistant and Oak Consortium Coordinator at The Morton Arboretum, focusing on outreach and communication with arboreta and botanic gardens while utilizing her environmental science background. Amy has submitted proposals to present at two conferences, assisted on submitting a large grant proposal, and participated in numerous professional development opportunities. Amy's blog posts.

Taskeen Khan (2017) returned to the Arboretum in the summer of 2018. As a REEF (Research Experience Extension Fellow), she continued her work from the previous year and presented it at the 2018 Undergraduate Research Symposium. She is currently a Research Assistant in the Fraterigo Lab, studying the impact of forest fires, and in May of 2020 she will complete her undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology Honors and Chemistry. Taskeen received the Integrative Biology Honors Junior Achievements Scholarship, and is an Illinois Undergraduate Research Ambassador, promoting undergraduate research. Taskeen's blog posts.

Sierra Lopezalles (2017) continues to pursue her undergraduate degree in Biology at Caltech and will graduate in June of 2020. Sierra's blog posts.

Cori Butkiewicz (2018) graduated from University of Maryland with a BS in Biological Sciences: Ecology and Evolution and is currently pursuing an MS in Forestry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cori enjoyed participating in National Dendroecological Field Week and when asked how her time at the Arboretum impacted her career, she told us it gave her a reference that allowed her to get into grad school and do the research she really want to do! Cori's blog posts.

Lydia Schlaefke (2018) has completed her BS in Environmental Biology/Microbiology with a minor in Environmental Sustainability Studies from Michigan State University. Prior to graduating she worked as a Lab Technician at MSU's Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, and as a Laboratory Supervisor at Fibertec Industrial Hygiene Industries. She was recently hired as a Research Assistant for Orthopaedic Surgery at UConn Health. Lydia's blog posts.

Ashley Wojciechowski (2018) continued her research as a REEF (Research Experience Extension Fellow) through her senior year and presented her work at the Midwestern Ecology and Evolution Conference. She completed her degree from North Central College and is now a Graduate Research Assistant in the Baer Lab at The University of Kansas, pursuing a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Ashley's blog post and REEF project.

Gabriela Krochmal (2019) will be graduating from Loyola University Chicago in December of 2019, with a BS in Environmental Science.  When asked about the impact of the summer research experience on her career path, she noted an increase in her independent research skills, ability to formulate a project, and statistical analysis, as well as learning to communicate science more efficiently. Gabby's blog posts.


Fall 2018 Update

Liz Carter (2014) is pursuing her MS in Environmental Science at DePaul; published her URF project results, "Do oaks with a provenance related to warmer climates emit more isoprene?" in the DePaul science journal, DePaul Discoveries in 2015; and presented the results of her senior thesis project at the International Urban Wildlife Conference in May of 2015. The poster was titled "Linking mammalian habitat use to vegetation community structure in the Chicagoland region."  Group blog posts archive.

Kathrine Klaus (2014) is an Environmental Mission Scholar at Vermont Law School.  She recently wrote and presented a Note suggesting the Clean Water Act encompasses the discharge of pollutants to groundwater that is hydrologically connected to surface water and she is seeking publication for that Note.  In the summer of 2017, Kathrine worked for the EPA in the Office of Regional Counsel in Chicago, and in the summer of 2018, she worked for the Department of Justice in the Natural Resources Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division in Washington, D.C.  Group blog posts archive.


Angélica Bannwart Lopes (2015) is currently teaching English to children (12 - 15) at a state school in Goias, Brazil.  She earned her Forest Engineering degree, thanks, in part, to the skills received during the URF, and while she plans to pursue a career in the field, Angélica is truly enjoying her job as a teacher.  Group blog posts archive.

Bruce “Jake” Berger (2015) is studying Water Resource Management at Indiana University Bloomington, pursuing an MS in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Affairs.  He is working with faculty at IU Bloomington to study how well states are preparing for conservation issues related to climate change in their federally mandated State Wildlife Action Plans.  Jake has performed field work in the Galapagos Islands to catch and study sea turtles, and has worked with the Indiana Clean Lakes Program to perform lake sampling and measurements for public water bodies to assess water quality.  Group blog posts archive.


Nick Steichmann (2015) presented his research on Lake George in Illinois City to the Upper Mississippi center;  and this spring he went to Australia and completed an internship at the University of Sydney working with native bees and ants.  He enjoyed visiting the Great Barrier Reef so much that he is currently applying for PhD programs in marine biology.  

Mackenzie Coden (2016) changed her field of study and is currently a research technician in the department of Allergy and Immunology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.  She has attended and presented at local, regional, and national Immunology conferences, authored two publications, with several more in preparation for submission, and is planning to pursue a PhD in the coming years.  Mackenzie's blog posts.

Kasey Pham (2016) is pursuing her MS at Michigan State, studying Plant Biology.  She published Pham et al. 2017 in the journal Genome, is a coauthor on Fitzgibbon et al. 2017, also in Genome, and received a PLANTS grant to attend the Botany 2017 meeting, where she presented a talk.  Kasey's blog posts.

Quinn Taylor (2016) is currently a high school science teacher and Math/Science department head at Fusion Academy.  She co-authored a paper on her research with her URF mentor, Dr. Meghan Midgley, which can be found in the March 2018 issue of Forest Ecology and Management.  In August 2017 Quinn traveled to Portland, Oregon to present this research at the ESA Annual Meeting.  Quinn's blog posts.

Amy Byrne (2017) spent the summer working as a Population Biology intern at the Lincoln Park Zoo Conservation & Science Department.  She will be a co-author on a paper "Sex-specific median life expectancies from ex situ populations for 330 animal species" that is still in the editing phase. She collected the new data for this paper and will be presenting her research findings on Red-capped Cardinal post-hatch survival rate and transfer mortality rate to the Conservation & Science Department at the zoo.  Amy recently returned to the Arboretum to continue working with Dr. Andrew Hipp.  Amy's blog posts.

Alyssa Gao (2017) is in her junior year at Dartmouth.  She organized a day-long summit that brought together student leaders in sustainability from six peer institutions to connect and build a network; she was awarded the 2017-18 Carol Folt Research Scholarship to continue her work in the Kapuscinski lab; and was selected for the Environmental Studies Foreign Study Program & will travel to South Africa and Namibia in the fall of 2018.  Alyssa's blog posts.

Katie McGee (2017) completed her senior thesis and graduated magna cum laude from James Madison University, where she was also recognized for service to the biology department.  She has had several internships, including one at JMU that investigated bird behavior and urbanization and another doing environmental education/ trail work and conservation in Massachusetts with the Student Conservation Association.  Katie is currently finishing up an internship as a biology technician at Redwoods National Forest in California and has internship opportunities lines up for 2019.  Katie's blog posts.