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Symposium Presentations


The 7th annual Center for Tree Science Undergraduate Research Symposium took place on Thursday, August 13th and Friday, August 14th via Zoom (recordings will be posted below in the coming weeks). Over a dozen students, mentored by Arboretum scientists, presented their independent research projects and two keynote speakers, Dr. Justin Richardson and Dr. Tanisha M. Williams, engaged and inspired an international audience. This event is part of the Center for Tree Science’s Integrated Mentorship Program and is funded by the National Science Foundation’s REU Program and Morton Salt. 

Thursday, August 13

Leslie M. Vargas, The University of the South, Early Detection and Rapid Response: Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) Monitoring, advisors: Dr. Chai-Shian Kua, Tricia Bethke, Dr. Chuck Cannon

Kaylee J. Rosenberger, Northern Illinois University, Sampling to capture the most genetic diversity when population sizes vary in a rare species, advisors: Dr. Sean Hoban, Emily Schumacher

Andrew C. Ernat, Iowa State University, Exploring Remotely Sensed Data as an Indicator of Phenological Sensitivity in Oaks, advisors: Dr. Christine Rollinson, Lucien Fitzpatrick

Tanya R. Perez, University of Texas at San Antonio, Tree growth in response to slope in a Highway Setting, advisors: Dr. Jason W. Miesbauer, Dr. Allyson Salisbury

Maddie Fernandez-Laris, DePaul University, Exploring Barriers to Recruitment of Transplanted Seedlings of the Endangered Quercus Brandegeei, advisors: Dr. Silvia Alvarez-Clare, Dr. Christie Klimas

Carolyn Brinckwirth, DePaul University, Population Structure Analysis of Quercus brandegeei, advisors: Dr. Christie Klimas, Dr. Silvia Alvarez-Clare

Camila Cortez, DePaul University, Reproduction influences of Quercus brandegeei, advisors: Dr. Christie Klimas, Dr. Silvia Alvarez-Clare

Keynote speaker

Dr. Justin RichardsonBiogeochemistry for urban trees/forests, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Friday, August 14

Janey R. Lienau, Wheaton College, The Effects of Forest Type on Ground Beetle Abundance and Diversity, advisors: Dr. Meghan Midgley, Dr. Robert Buchkowski

Theodore James Bohdanowycz, Washtenaw Community College, U.S. Wild Harvested Tree Species: A Conservation Snapshot, advisors: Christina Carrero, Dr. Jessica Turner-Skoff, Dr. Murphy Westwood

Katelyn McBride, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Sap flow variation in response to environmental factors in American sycamores, advisors: Dr. Chuck Cannon, Samantha Panock

Pranav Sai, Colorado College, Processing and Analyzing LiDAR Scans of Trees, advisors: Dr. Chuck Cannon, Colby Borchetta

Sydney Kaplan, Illinois Institute of Technology, A Robust Computer Vision Algorithm for Tracking Branches from a UAV, advisors: Dr. Chuck Cannon, Dr. Matthew Spenko, Colby Borchetta

Jessica R. Langguth, Ohio University, Trait variation of gymnosperm fine roots, advisors: Dr. Luke McCormack, Marvin Lo

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Tanisha M. WilliamsConserving Biodiversity: From California to South Africa to Australia, Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation, Genetics, and Ecology & Evolution of Plant Reproduction, Bucknell University



During the last week of the REU program, students present their work at the annual Center for Tree Science Undergraduate Research Symposium. The audience consists of staff, volunteers, members of the public, as well as friends and family, and is a great opportunity for speakers to utilize the science communication training they received throughout the summer.

A young woman presents in front of a large screen
Presenting at the Undergraduate Research Symposium

2019 Symposium 

Full Presentation with guest speaker, Dr. Meg Lowman, aka Canopy Meg (website).

Perry Giambuzzi

Jamilys Rivera

Gabriela Krochmal

Andrew Archundia

Jessica Langguth

Ella Segal

Rachel Sims (REEF)

Sydney Kaplan

Mariah Casmey

Bailie Muñoz (RTF)

Alice Bieda


2018 Symposium

Full Presentation with guest speaker, Dr. Gary M. Lovett (website)

Cori Butkiewicz

Rachel Sims

Ashley Wojciechowski

Lydia Schlaefke

Elizabeth Gibbons

Alyssa Barrantes-Leonard

Taskeen Khan

Alex Bernhard

Sarah Kania


2017 Symposium

Full Presentation with guest speaker, Dr. Richard B. Primack (website)

Alyssa Gao

Amy Byrne

Sara Desmond

Taskeen Khan

Sierra Lopezalles

Samantha Panock

Katie McGee


2016 Symposium

Full Presentation 

Mackenzie Coden

Kirsten Triller

Ali McGarigal

Quinn Taylor

Kasey Pham

Nick Steichmann


2015 Symposium

Full Presentation

Mary Babiez

Bruce “Jake” Berger

Jacob Cerminar

Angélica Bannwart Lopes

Erin Pfarr

Nick Steichmann


2014 Symposium

Full Presentation

Includes: Katie Klaus, Liz Carter, Erik Desotelle, Breane Budaitis, Felipe Santich, Brian Maule, Stuart Hupp


Highlights from past Undergraduate Research Symposiums

Group of presenters in front of a large screen
Student presenters posing with guest speaker


Undergraduate Research Program participants posing for a photo
Student researchers gather during the symposium luncheon

Undergraduate students and Morton staff in front of the Administration Building
Celebrating a successful symposium