Student Spotlight: 2023 Research Grant Recipients
The mission of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation (WPEF) is to “promote the conservation of whitebark pine and other high-elevation five needle white pine ecosystems through education, restoration, management, and research.” In support of this mission, the WPEF offers a research grant of $1000 to an undergraduate or graduate student (MS or PhD) conducting research and writing a thesis on whitebark pine. For 2023, we partnered with John Van Gundy to offer a second $1000 student scholarship for anyone conducting research on whitebark pine. We are pleased to announce that Lou Duloisy was chosen as this year’s student research grant recipient and Jessica Harris was chosen as the recipient of the John Van Gundy student scholarship.
Lou Duloisy is a second-year PhD student at Montana State University, researching how climate impacts the physiological mechanisms contributing to species’ range limits. As part of Danielle Ulrich’s lab, Lou focuses on the seasonal patterns of gas exchange and nonstructural carbohydrates in whitebark and limber pine. She aims to uncover potential differences in leaf-level photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration between these two species. Through the WPEF student grant, Lou is collecting data on gas exchange, water potential, and tree-ring stable isotopes at three sites in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. By analyzing these factors, Lou strives to deepen our understanding of whitebark and limber pine physiology and contribute to effective management strategies amidst a changing climate.
Lou stays motivated throughout her work by observing the resilience of high-elevation pines and their interconnectedness to their environment. Her passion for interdisciplinary research and curiosity drives her to explore new questions and engage in discussions with others about their research interests. Lou plans to graduate in 2026 and aspires to pursue a career in academia, non-profit organizations, or land management that involves interdisciplinary collaboration and the application of her expertise. Outside of work, Lou enjoys skiing, mountain biking, and playing board games with friends. You can connect with Lou on LinkedIn.
Jessica Harris is a biology master’s student in Danielle Ulrich’s lab at Montana State University. She is studying the physiological traits and seedling growth of 51 whitebark pine families from different seed zones across the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. With support from the Van Gundy scholarship, Jessica aims to assess how climate affects physiological traits to identify families with the best establishment rates for future planting efforts. She is also researching how different whitebark and limber pine families respond to drought stress by measuring traits related to water potential, gas exchange, health status, and biomass. Jessica’s research will provide better insight into the physiology of whitebark and limber pine and help prioritize adaptive management strategies.
Jessica is deeply fascinated by the resilience of whitebark pine and draws motivation from the tangible impact her work has in protecting these remarkable trees. She is captivated by the adaptability of trees to their surroundings and finds excitement in the continual learning opportunities that research provides. Throughout her life, Jessica has found solace, purpose, and joy in nature, particularly in trees. She believes that fostering a compassionate and reciprocal relationship with nature is a shared responsibility. Jessica hopes to graduate in winter 2023 and plans to embark on a field season during the summer of 2024. Afterwards, she hopes to work for organizations such as the US Forest Service, a tree nursery, an arboretum, or a museum, where she can partake in research, teaching, and inspiring others about the wonders of science. In her leisure time, Jessica enjoys activities like running, road biking, plant identification during hikes, vegan baking, rock hunting, painting, gardening, and volunteering at the animal shelter. You can connect with Jessica on LinkedIn.