The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies
For Graduate Students and Advanced Undergraduates
The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies was established to promote the study of horticulture, conservation and design in arid landscapes. The award is for advanced undergraduate and graduate students studying horticulture, conservation, botany, environmental science and landscape design relating to the arid landscape.
Students must be enrolled at an accredited U.S. college or university. While the award is intended to have a wide scope pertaining to the arid environment, preference will be given to students wishing to gain practical field experience -- specifically, planning and design for sustainability, rainwater harvesting and plant management, etc. -- through structured internships at accredited botanical gardens or arboreta.
Students wishing to intern should contact a local botanical garden to frame a plan of work that will guide both the intern and the garden staff in implementation and monitoring. The student should also check with the student's advisor office to see if university credit will be given for the internship program, although academic credit is not required.
Doctoral research field projects will also be considered for the GCA Award in Desert Studies, but will not have funding preference.
At the completion of the internship or proposed project, the student would submit a written report of achievements to both the accredited botanical garden or arboreta and the GCA.
- Funds one or more applicants for one year at $4,000
- Deadline: January 15
Mr. Kenny Zelov, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Desert Botanical Garden
Phone: 480 481.8162
Candidates should submit the following required information to firstname.lastname@example.org, with "GCA Award in Desert Studies" as the subject line:
- A current resume that includes:
- Address, phone and email
- Educational background including relevant education, work experiences and publications if any
- Name of a contact person at the accredited botanical garden or arboretum where you would like to complete your internship. Include a letter from the contact person confirming your acceptance into the program; OR
- If not applying for an internship, a description of your proposed project
- A 1-2 page essay that includes the following:
- Your career aspirations
- Your specific interests in sustainability in the arid environment and what you hope to achieve through the internship if selected.
- Contact information for one reference qualified to describe the student's character and ability
- A letter of recommendation from your advisor, using the Academic Advisor Recommendation form (download form as a word document). Letter of recommendation should be completed, signed and sent to:
Mr. Kenny Zelov
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Dates & Award Notifications
Applications must be received by January 15.
Applications will be evaluated by a panel appointed by the Desert Botanical Garden and approved by the GCA scholarship committee. Applications will be judged on the qualifications of the applicant.
Award selection will be completed in early March. The GCA Scholarship Committee will notify the Award recipient by March 31. The Garden Club of America policy conforms with and strongly supports applicable federal and state laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of sex, disability, religion, age, national origin or sexual orientation with regard to the application for any of the scholarships The Garden Club of America sponsors.
AWARD IN DESERT STUDIES GRANTED
The Desert Botanical Garden, Administrator of the Garden Club of America's New Award in Desert Studies, is pleased to announce the 2012 winners!
Pacifica Sommers is a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. Her research interests lie broadly in the processes by which biodiversity is maintained, and how invasive species change the balance of species in a community. One question Pacifica is investigating is the role of small mammals in driving – or mitigating – the impact of invasive buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare). This drought tolerant, perennial African bunchgrass was planted extensively in the Sonoran Desert and other arid and semi-arid regions worldwide for cattle grazing and erosion control. It has since colonized native shrub land, leading to declines in native diversity and abundance of perennial vegetation. Small mammals foraging on seeds and vulnerable seedlings prefer to stay under cover to avoid owls that prey on them. If this dense invasive grass attracts them as a shelter, then the rodents could reduce recruitment of new saguaros, palo verde, and other iconic perennial species.
Jane G. Smith is a doctoral student in Biology at New Mexico State University. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Studio Arts from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has experience working on biogeochemistry and plant community ecology research in alpine, desert, semi-arid, and California grassland and shrubland ecosystems. She is broadly interested in ecosystem ecology and for her graduate degree is studying the dynamics of soil organic carbon cycling in dryland ecosystems. Her current research is investigating the role of two important groups of desert animals, rodents and ants, as drivers of soil carbon cycling in the Chihuahuan Desert. Carbon cycling is an integral ecosystem process and soil carbon dynamics are closely linked to other ecosystem characteristics like plant community composition and productivity. The mechanisms that drive soil carbon cycling, however, are poorly understood, especially in desert environments. With her research, Jane is examining the influence of rodent and ant activity on soil organic carbon quality, quantity, and stability in the Chihuahuan Desert.