Person smiling at camera with a microscope

Evin Magner

Research Q & A

What’s your hometown?

I’m from the tiny unincorporated town of New Salisbury, Indiana.

What are you currently working on?

The award funded a research trip to Davis, California to observe and collect samples from the black nectar-producing genus of Melianthus. The goal of the project is to identify the nectar pigments, understand their synthesis, and explore the possible functions of colored nectars.

How did you get started/what drew you to your area of study?

Unique and extreme adaptations in nature have always fascinated me. My first memory  of this fascination happened while watching hummingbirds feed in my grandmother’s garden as a child. The intimate relationship between these plants and their animal visitors amazed me. Now, I am fortunate enough to investigate those relationships on a much deeper level as I explore the world of colored nectars and their impact on pollinators.

Where are you working on research/field work?

I recently returned from a trip to UC Davis to collect samples from the black nectar-producing genus of Melianthus. While the plant originates from the elevated dry regions of South Africa and Namibia, the UC Davis’ collection includes three of the six species, including: M. major, M. minor, and M. comosus.

What will your next steps/research be?

With newly collected samples and data, we plan to continue our investigation into the black nectar of Melianthus to better understand how and why the plant produces the black nectar. This will include investigations into the chemical processes, genetic contributions, and ecological pressures that have impacted the evolution of such a charismatic and unique trait.


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