Research Q & A
What’s your hometown?
Saint Paul, Minnesota
What are you currently working on?
My dissertation research involves investigating the capacity of tallgrass prairies in Minnesota to adapt to climate change. With support from the Bell Museum, I was able to finish my 2019 field work and lab work. I am currently working on analyzing data and preparing manuscripts for submission.
How are you working toward that goal?
My dissertation research has involved one year of greenhouse work and three years of field and lab work. Throughout this time I have had volunteer support from University of Minnesota undergraduate student research assistants who have assisted me with propagating plants in the greenhouse and processing seed and leaf samples I collected from the field.
Where are you working on research/field work?
My research took place at three field sites within the historic distribution of the tallgrass prairie: McCarthy Lake State Wildlife Management area in southeastern Minnesota, Lake Bella State Wildlife Management Area in Bigelow, Minnesota, and the Sorenson Game production area in Tyndall, South Dakota.
Why are you focusing your work in that area?
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of my generation and tallgrass prairies are one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. There are outstanding questions about how to conserve prairies as the climate changes and I hope my research will provide information to inform management decisions. The three research sites fall along an east to west aridity gradient, which represents how temperature and precipitation patterns in Minnesota will change in 25–50 years. The Lake Bella State Wildlife Management Area and the Sorenson Game production area in Tyndall, South Dakota represent climate futures for the McCarthy Lake State Wildlife management area. I have planted the same population of seed from McCarthy Lake State Wildlife Management Area into each site and by comparing the success of the plant population at each site over time I will be able to make inferences about the capacity of tallgrass prairies to adapt to climate change.
What will your next steps/research be?
I hope to publish the results of my research and continue to conduct research that helps inform conservation management decisions.