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Two undergrads win Young Botanist of the Year awards

April 22, 2016

Wade Dismukes

Wade Dismukes

Kevin Bird

Kevin Bird

Two Division of Biological Sciences undergraduate students, Kevin Bird and Wade Dismukes, have been awarded Young Botanist of the Year awards from the Botanical Society of America.

The competitive award recognizes outstanding graduating seniors in the plant sciences and is given to only twenty-seven students across the country. Both students will receive a “Certificate of Special Achievement” from the Society and have their names published in the Plant Science Bulletin.

“MU can take great pride in both Wade’s and Kevin’s impressive accomplishments. Both have tremendous potential, and we all should expect great things from them,” says Associate Professor J. Chris Pires, who has mentored both students in his research laboratory in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.

Bird’s undergraduate research project has focused on the convergent evolution of underground storage organs in turnip, kohlrabi, and rutabaga. He has developed both lab and computer skills to master this project, which involves integrating transcriptome, metabolome, and phenotypic data. Following graduation this May, Bird will conduct research in plant systems biology at the University of Ghent in Belgium as a Fulbright Fellow and then will return to the United States to pursue his doctoral degree.

Dismukes has carried out two research projects on plants: one focused on grape-gall interactions in the lab of Drs. Heidi Appel and Jack Schultz and one focused on the evolutionary relationships among the main lineages of the spiderwort family (Cleomaceae) in the Pires lab. After graduation, Dismukes plans to obtain his doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at the Iowa State University.

Earlier this month, Dismukes and Bird also were awarded Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Professor Stanley Zimmering Prize in Biology from the Division.

The Botanical Society of America, one of the world’s largest societies devoted to the study of plants and allied organisms, was established in 1906. The BSA promotes and encompasses all areas of plant biology.

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Related categories:
Awards, Undergraduate Studies