SOME OF OUR ALUMNI
VIVIAN NEGRON-ORTIZ - Botany Ph.D. - 1994
Dr. Vivian Negron-Ortiz receiving a Honor Award from Sam Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Dr. Vivian Negron-Ortiz received a Regional Director's Honor Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, at an Awards Ceremony in Atlanta on May 4. Dr. Negron-Ortiz is the Botanist with the Ecological Services office of FWS in Panama City, Florida, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Miami University's Botany Department. She received her Ph.D. from the Botany Department in 1994 under the mentorship of Jim Hickey.
Dr. Negron-Ortiz is the Lead Recovery Botanist for 10 species of threatened and endangered plants. She received the Regional Director's Honor Award for her dedication to landscape conservation and her enthusiastic approach to engaging new partners for recovery priorities. She has developed creative ways to promote plant recovery including working with private, state, and federal partners, receiving grant awards, and collaborating on research projects.
BRYAN ENDRESS - Botany Ph.D. - 2002
Bryan Endress is new Associate Director of San Diego Zoo’s Conservation program
Dr. Bryan Endress recently was appointed Associate Director of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES), the conservation research program of the Zoological Society of San Diego. He also heads CRES’ Applied Plant Ecology Division. This new division will focus on plant conservation both in Southern California and globally through close collaborations with the other research divisions at CRES as well as the horticulture departments at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. CRES also plans to form long-term partnerships with a wide range of institutions, organizations, communities, and governments to promote plant conservation. “There is a unique opportunity here to affect conservation outcomes and promote on-the-ground conservation success that I’m excited to be a part of,” said Dr. Endress.
Dr. Endress received his PhD in Botany in 2002, working with Dr. David L. Gorchov. His dissertation research, on population biology and sustainable harvest of Chamaedorea radicalis, an understory palm in the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve of Mexico, helped prepare him for his new job, as did earlier research in the Pacific nation of Palau and post-doctoral work with the Oregon State University and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service.
MATTHEW SEWELL - Botany M.S. - 2003
2007 Richard and Minnie Windler Award Recipients - September 2007
Matthew Sewell and Michael A. Vincent
September 2007(Castanea Vol.72, Issue 3)
The 17th annual Richard and Winnie Windler Award has been presented to Matthew Sewell and Michael A. Vincent for their paper ‘‘Biosystematics of the Phacelia ranunculacea Complex (Hydrophyllaceae)’’ in Castanea 71:192-209. This award is given annually for the best paper in plant systematics, taxonomy, or floristics published in Castanea the preceding year.
They conducted morphological analyses of the Phacelia ranunculacea complex, members of which are herbaceous annuals and occur on floodplains and in alluvial hardwood forests throughout eastern North America. The distribution of the complex displays a disjunct distribution between the Midwest and Atlantic coastal plain. Their phenetic analysis of morphological characters revealed two distinct clusters of specimens that corresponded to the haploid chromosome numbers. Correlation of the clusters and chromosome counts with type specimens resulted in recognition of two taxa: P. ranunculacea sensu stricto and P. covillei.
Matthew Sewell is currently the lab manager for the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics Studies at The New York Botanical Garden (Bronx, New York). His study on the biosystematics of Phacelia ranunculacea published in Castanea was the result of his Master's thesis research completed under supervision of Michael Vincent.
Michael A. Vincent is Curator of the Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). His major focus is on alpha taxonomy and floristics, particularly New World taxa of Trifolium (clovers, Leguminosae). Michael also has broad interests in the flora of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, and in the past done research on fungal taxonomy and floristics.
Jeffrey Walck, Middle Tennessee State University, Chair, Windler Award Committee.
To view original article: Castanea Volume 71, Issue 3 (September 2006)
RIKKI HRENKO - Botany B.S. - 2004
Botany alumna helps clean up energy production in Estonia
Miami, I majored in Botany with an environmental science emphasis and also pursued an environmental science co-major. With support from the Hughes and DUOS Programs, I carried out field research with Dr. David Gorchov and doctoral student Anne Bartuszevigeon invasive plants (honeysuckle and garlic mustard).
Since I was also interested in the more public domainof environmental issues, I then pursued a graduate degree in public policy and management, focusing on environmental policy, at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School. During my time at CMU I worked for an environmental non-profit, PA CleanWays, that empowers people to eliminate illegal dumping and littering in Pennsylvania. I researched illegal dumping enforcement trends in Pittsburgh and created an accompanying database and GIS map. I drafted suggestions for policy enforcement improvements and my GIS maps are now used to educate the public and influence officials and funding agencies.
In summer 2005 I interned with the Tallinn (Estonia) office of the Stockholm Environmental Institute. There I analyzed the 2004 revision of the European Union (EU) sustainable development strategy and its impacts on other EU environmental policies. I also recommended policy changes to Baltic marine oil transport regulations, emphasizing oil spill prevention and response policies based on the the US response to the Exxon-Valdez spill. I also helped form the Estonian position on reform of the United Nations Environment Program. Although Estonia joined the EU in 2004, its Soviet history left a number of environmental problems. EU environmental standards are extremely challenging to Estonia, as it is a small and rapidly developing country.
After graduating I returned to Estonia to take on a greater role in shaping the environmental decisions and future of this country.  I now work as an environmental expert for Eesti Energia (Estonian Energy), the largest energy company in the Baltics.  I work to ensure that Eesti Energia is prepared for forthcoming international environmental standards and policies. I also help develop new environmental projects, such as recycling the ash from power plants in construction materials and cement.  I also strive to influence Eesti Energia, the largest polluter in the Baltics, to take a significantly more sustainable path.