COSAM News Articles 2019 April COSAM Freshman Awarded the Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany

COSAM Freshman Awarded the Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany

Published: 04/16/2019

By: Maria Gebhardt

Noah D. Yawn, a freshman with a 4.0 GPA majoring in organismal biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, has received a scholarship through the Garden Club of America Scholarships program. Noah was awarded the merit-based Joan K. Hunt and Rachel M. Hunt Summer Scholarship in Field Botany to conduct a summer internship at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

“Noah Yawn is one of the best freshman students I have met,” said Alumni Professor Dr. Robert Boyd. “His level of knowledge, and oral and written communication abilities, are simply outstanding. If that is not enough, he is also a pleasant and humble person. Noah has a stellar future ahead and I’m excited to be able to help him achieve it by writing a letter supporting his scholarship application.”

Noah will spend his summer immersed in a research project on Sarracenia alabamensis, the Alabama cane-brake pitcher plant, in Atlanta.

“I hope to make a significant on-the-ground impact with conservation efforts, both now and in the long-term, through this summer program,” he explained.

Noah will be working with the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Davis Arboretum for specific data this summer.

“We will be surveying all occurrences of the species to assess each site and its habitat, status, and overall conservation priority such as management and potential for site augmentation,” Noah shared. “The last significant survey of this kind occurred 24 years ago by Dr. Boyd and Patrick Murphy.”

In addition to his studies, Noah has been working with the specialized collections at the Donald E. Davis Arboretum helping with the cultivation of the Arboretum’s carnivorous plant collection including two federally endangered species.

He is also working with another endangered pitcher plant species, Sarracenia oreophila, the green pitcher plant, at DeSoto State Park.

“This project is special in that it is a federally funded Section 6 plant conservation research project—the very first of its kind for Alabama!” explained Noah. “Previously, federal funds that are dispersed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were not available for plant conservation purposes in Alabama until now.”

Noah is working with a team to prepare the research plot.  The land must be cleared of any hardwood species and the canopy adjusted to allow more sunlight to shine in for the plants to thrive and reproduce. Since all species of the pitcher plant require adequate sunlight, Noah is developing his skills to ensure he can help create the right habitat for these endangered plants to thrive.

“It is both humbling and frightening that a single 24" x 10” tray of these endangered pitcher plants has more actual pitcher plants in it than what can be found in wild populations,” Noah said.

“I am extremely grateful and owe Patrick Thompson, Dr. Boyd, and Dr. Jessica Stephens my highest thanks for all of their enthusiasm, opportunities, assistance, and support for this project and for me as a student,” he added. “Working at the Arboretum, meeting individuals in the conservation community, and getting involved through all of these wonderful programs through these mentors are what truly has made the difference to me as an Auburn student! I am honored to have the opportunity to study, work under, and learn from them.”

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