College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Undergrad wins Young Botanist of the Year award

April 26, 2011

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A Plant & Microbial Biology undergraduate student has been awarded a 2011 Young Botanist of the Year award from the Botanical Society of America.

Gracie Benson-Martin, a Genetics and Plant Biology major who will be graduating in 2011, was given the award by the Botanical Society of America.

She was also recently awarded a microMORPH National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network grant to spend the summer at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany. While there she will continue a research project that she started here at UC Berkeley. Benson-Martin was able to begin her research through the Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research Program (SPUR), which is funded by alumni of the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley.

She started her research project in 2009 and has continued to develop her student-initiated research throughout this past year.
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Benson-Martin’s research project investigates the role of ecological niches and biogeography in driving speciation and diversification in Heliconia, a genus of charasmatic tropical plants found throughout South and Central America.She works out of the lab and under the direction of Assistant Professor Chelsea Specht of the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology in the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley.