Thursday, November 6, 2014

UW Botany research findings published in PNAS

Botany department's research scientist Jane Zelikova and professors Dave Williams and Elise Pendall along with scientists from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) studied the effect of elevated CO2 and warming on grassland vegetation which will provide insights that Wyoming ranchers and land managers need to make grassland ecosystems more resistant to wide fluctuations in rainfall and temperatures. Under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, they found that "grasslands changed from being dominated by two very common species now (western wheatgrass, an intermediate grass, and blue grama, a short grass) toward other gramonoids and forbs that aren't as dominant now".  These findings, commented Dave Williams, "will help us refine models used to predict how our grasslands will function and function 100 years from now".

Graduate students Amanda Brennan and Jennifer Bell in the field

These findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a prestigious multi-disciplinary journal on Oct 13, 2014 (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1414659111)

Link to Dr. Zelikova's web page - click here

Link to Dr. Williams's Lab web page - click here

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Jason Edwards won the 2014-15 US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) scholarship

Jason Edwards, a Botany/PiE PhD candidate working with Bill Reiners (Botany) and Steve Prager (Geography) won the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) scholarship.  USGIF scholarships are awarded to Graduating high school seniors, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students "interested in using capabilities of geospatial science, data and technologies to address human security challenges".  Winners are "chosen based on their academic and professional excellence in a field related to the geospatial intelligence tradecraft".

View of the Ethiopian Highlands where Jason is conducting his research
Jason was one of the 5 doctoral students who this award. His research is centered on the national security implications of the response in agricultural regions to changing climate and government policy in the Horn of Africa. The research involves remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and python programming. More information about this scholarship program and this year's winners can be found at:

After long day in the field in Ethiopian Highlands, Jason is relaxing in the hut
Jason holds a B.S. in plant biology from the University of Texas at Austin. He served in the Air Force as an airborne Arabic linguist from 1998 to 2004.

Friday, October 31, 2014

UW Stable Isotope Facility receives NSF award to analyze soil samples

UW Stable Isotope Facility (SIF), received an NSF award to analyze soil samples collected from all across the country. Professor David Williams (Head, Department of Botany) is the faculty director of SIF commented that "we will be analyzing soil samples for carbon and nitrogen isotopes".  This award recognizes SIF as one of "the elite facilities for stable isotope analysis in the US", according to Craig Cook, who is the facility director.

SIF Facility Director Craig Cook (left) speaks with
Professor Dan Yakir from the Weizmann Institute
in Israel who visited UW recently

 For more information about this award please visit UW News

Link to Dr. Williams' Lab webpage:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Mountains and Plains" - Book Release Celebration, Nov. 5, 2014

Book Release Celebration

"Mountains and Plains: The Ecology
of Wyoming Landscapes" 2nd edition

By Dennis Knight, George Jones, William Reiners and William Romme 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014. 5:00 - 8:00 pm
UW Berry Center (10th and Lewis Street)

Join in celebrating the book release of "Mountains and Plains: The Ecology of Wyoming Landscapes" 2nd edition by Dennis Knight, George Jones, William Reiners and William Romme. The second edition of this popular resource for land managers, teachers, scientists, students and enthusiasts is enhanced with color illustrations, additional chapters and new maps. Come celebrate the book release with a concert, presentation and comments by the authors, and book sale and signing.

 Celebration Activities include:

5:00 Welcome reception and concert, featuring cello and guitar by Julian Saporiti and Stephanie Flores.
6:00 Comments on the book by authors Dennis Knight, George Jones, William Reiners and William Romme.
7:00 Socializing, book sale and signing by the authors. Appetizers and beverages provided.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dr. Ellen Currano joins as faculty in UW Botany Department

Ellen with a ~50 million year old fossil tree
stump in the Wind River Basin, Wyoming
Ellen Currano is our newest faculty member, with a joint appointment in Botany and Geology and Geophysics. She received a BS in geology and BA in biology from the University of Chicago and PhD in geosciences from Penn State.

The last two years of her graduate career were spent as a predoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Wyoming, she was an NSF postdoctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University and an assistant professor of geology at Miami University (OH).

Ellen is a paleobotanist who studies the response of ancient plants and insect herbivores to environmental perturbations. Her research focuses on the Early Paleogene (65-45 million years ago) of Wyoming and the Paleogene-Neogene transition (30-20 million years ago) in Ethiopia.

22 million year old leaf fossil from the Mush Valley of Ethiopia. Insects fed on this leaf
when it was alive, and the feeding damage is preserved in the fossil record.

Prospective graduate students interested in pursuing field-based paleobotanical research in Wyoming are encouraged to email her.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dr. Alex Buerkle won the 2013-14 A&S Extraordinary Merit in Research Award

UW Botany Associate Professor Alex Buerkle won the 2013-14 A&S Extraordinary Merit in Research Award for leading a highly productive research program as illustrated by his many published articles in top international journals such as the The American Naturalist; Ecology Letters; Molecular Ecology; Evolution; and Genetics

He has received consistent NSF grant support over the last five years. Dr. Buerkle and his students contribute to the understanding of evolution within hybrid zones using genomic analyses and drawing on study systems spanning much of life’s diversity, including fish and butterflies to sunflowers and spruce and poplar trees. 

He has received numerous invitations from around the world to deliver keynote addresses and has served frequently on NSF program panels.

To learn more about Dr. Buerkle’s research and please visit his website.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Botany Graduate Student Again Wins Grand Teton Fellowship

Kellen Nelson, who is pursuing a Ph.D in ecology and botany at UW, is the recipient of the 2014 Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship. The Evison Graduate Fellowship began in 2005 to support advanced studies throughout the greater Yellowstone area. Four of the 10 fellowship winners have been UW graduate students, the most for any institution.

Read the full story at:  Botany Student Again Wins Grand Teton Fellowship
Source: UW

Monday, December 2, 2013

Travel grants enable Yao Liu, a Botany student, to travel to University of Wisconsin – Madison to conduct Quaternary research

Yao Liu, PhD student in Botany & the Program in Ecology, in Professor Steve Jackson’s lab, is expanding the search for past novel and disappearing climate states globally and into the deeper past. Climate change can trigger the reshuffling of species into communities with no modern analog. Current work has linked no-analog communities and climates at continental scales.

Yao is assessing the emergence of no-analog communities during warmer-than-present time periods, such as the last-interglacial (the Eemian, ~ 120,000 years ago), to evaluate how no-analog climates and high climate velocities are related to community shuffling.

Areas in red indicate end-21st-century climates with no close analog
in late 20th-century climates. From Williams et al. 2007
Yao Liu received support from the Botany Northen Fellowship and the Shlemon Center Student Travel Grant for traveling to University of Wisconsin – Madison in November 2013. There she collaborated with Dr. John W. (Jack) Williams, who is conducting foundational, high profile research aimed at understanding the relationship between novel climates and no-analog communities.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Professor Reiners wins ESA's top honors

UW Botany Professor William Reiners received the Eminent Ecologist Award, the highest honor from the Ecological Society of America that recognizes a senior ecologist who has made an “outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.”

He received this award during the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) 98th Annual Meeting held in the Minneapolis Convention Center, MN (Aug 4-9, 2013).

Read the full story at University of Wyoming’s Public Relations office website.

Additional photos from the awards ceremony are on our Google+ photo albums

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dr. Dan Tinker's work highlighted in WyoFile

Dr. Dan Tinker's research on the 1988 Yellowstone fire is highlighted in WyoFile (Sept 9, 2013).

Dr. Dan Tinker (second from left) with his research team
Excerpt from the article:
"Tinker’s work, which includes years of data collection from the park — some of which has already been published — will eventually incorporate the use of a supercomputer to show how forests respond and regenerate after a fire, how the landscape changes over time and how it could burn again. The three-dimensional fire simulations will show how these young forests might burn and how that is different from old forests.
- Kelsey Dayton" 
Read the complete story at:

To learn more about his research and fellow researchers, visit The Tinker Lab for Forest & Fire Ecology