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Arnold Arboretum

Our Putnam Fellows

The Katharine H. Putnam Fellowships in Plant Science offer excellent opportunities for advanced research and study using the Arboretum’s living collections and are made possible by the generosity of George and Nancy Putnam through the Putnam Fellows Fund.

Current Fellows

Jessica Savage 2014: Jessica Savage is interested in understanding how seasonal changes in vascular activity influence flowering and carbon allocation. Specifically she will be comparing xylem and phloem anatomy, physiology and function in precocious flowering species (those that flower before the leaves emerge) with related species that flower later in the season.
Ailene Ettinger 2014: Ailene Ettinger focuses on predicting the response and sensitivity of plants to a changing climate. By examining diverse trees growing in a common environment, she can identify functional traits that are important for success outside their historical conditions.
Stacey Young sq 2013: The research of Stacey Leicht Young will examine the ecological and reproductive strategies required for lianas (woody vines) to be successful in its environment. Utilizing the Arboretum’s Leventritt Shrub and Vine collection, Stacy will compare and contrast the functional traits of North American species with East Asian species growing in a common environment.

Past Fellows


2012-2014: Utilizing the conifer collection, Guangyou Hao studied the differences in the structural, physiological, and mechanical properties of water transport and xylem hydraulics between evergreen and deciduous conifers (which shed their leaves). Guangyou is now a Research Professor at the Institute of Applied Ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Cary Pirone 2011-2013: The research interests of Cary Pirone lay primarily in understanding how chemical signals mediate biological phenomena. Currently, she is exploring the complexities of pollination drops (ovular secretions) of several conifer species and ginkgo using biochemical and anatomical approaches.
Brian Morgan 2010-2011: Brian Morgan focuses on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) technology as a management and decision-making tool for public gardens. Brian created a GIS for the Arnold Arboretum based on the ArcGIS Public Garden Data Model, and a web-based application for performing collections research. He is the director of the Alliance for Public Gardens GIS.
Abby Hird 2008-2010: Conservation of threatened plant species is of great interest to Abby Hird. As a scientist for Botanic Gardens Conservation International–United States (BGCI-US), she collaborates with the Arnold Arboretum to implement the recommendations of the North American Collections Assessment. The goal is to preserve threatened taxa and increase genetic diversity by preserving wild-collected plants at the Arboretum and other botanical gardens.
Jennifer Winther 2007-2009: As a Putnam Fellow, Jennifer Winther established a research program on the developmental genetic mechanisms underlying male and female identity in the reproductive structures (cones) of gymnosperms. Now an assistant professor in biology at Grand Valley State University, she continues this research with her undergraduate students.
Richard Primack 2006-2007: Richard Primack is a professor of biology at Boston University. The Putnam Fellowship enabled Richard to evaluate the effects of climate change on plants and animals at the Arnold Arboretum and Concord. It also fostered an ongoing collaboration with Harvard Professor Chuck Davis to focus on how the evolutionary relationships between species play a role in adaptation to climate changes.
Eric Hsu 2005-2006: Eric Hsu is currently a doctoral student studying conifers at the University of Tasmania (Australia), and his career objectives include botanic garden management and garden design and consultancy. As a Putnam Fellow, Eric investigated the Arboretum’s Acer (maple) and Stewartia collections to build a case for their designation as national collections by the American Public Garden Association.
Tim Brodribb 2005: Tim Brodribb studied the Arboretum’s extensive conifer collection for his Putnam Fellowship, comparing the evolutionary trends of leaf structure and function for Southern and Northern Hemisphere species. Currently, he is a Queen Elizabeth II Fellow at the University of Tasmania (Australia), investigating the deep time evolution of veins and photosynthesis in leaves.
Nina Theis 2004-2005: Nina Theis, in collaboration with Arboretum taxonomist Jianhua Li and Michael Donoghue at Yale, used molecular phylogenetics to investigate the evolution of fragrance in Lonicera (honeysuckle) and Syringa (lilac) as a Putnam Fellow. Currently an assistant professor of biology at Elms College, Nina continues to study the ecology of fragrance production.
Sonia Uyterhoeven 2002-2003:  Currently, Sonia Uyterhoeven is a gardener for public education at The New York Botanical Garden. There she performs a dual role as educator and gardener in the Home Gardening Center, sharing her expertise in the areas of education, gardening, and design.
Sonali Saha 2002-2004: As Putnam Fellow, Sonali Saha collaborated with Harvard Professor Noel Michele Holbrook in investigations of the physiological properties of bamboo species. She is currently a senior biologist at the Institute for Regional Conservation in Miami, and serves a cooperative post with Everglades National Park as a vegetation biologist. Sonali is also an adjunct professor at Touro College South in Miami, and visiting faculty member at APLORI, Nigeria.
2002-2003: Lawren Sack studied hydraulic conductance and structure of tree leaves as a Putnam Fellow. Now he is a professor of plant physiology and ecology at UCLA, and a faculty affiliate for UCLA’s Center for Tropical Research. His research continues to focus on leaf and whole plant water transport, as well as the ecology and physiology of plant species coexistence, the evolution of diversity of leaves, forest dynamics and ecohydrology, and conservation physiology.
2001-2002: Youngdong Kim was awarded a Putnam Fellowship to reconstruct the phylogeny of the genus Berberis (barberry) to resolve the evolutionary relationships among its Asian and North American species. Youngdong is currently a professor of biology at Hallym University in South Korea.
Donglin Zhang 2001: Putnam Fellow Donglin Zhang employed morphological and genetic approaches to study the origins of tree lilacs and a new Chamaecyparis cultivar (‘Quiana’, or Atlantic whitecedar). He is a professor of ornamental horticulture at the University of Maine. His research focuses on conservation and the utilization of germplasm of ornamental plants. Email
2000-2002: As a Putnam Fellow, Michael Dosmann studied the taxonomy of katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum), the reproductive biology of a rare monkshood, the efficacy of plant exploration efforts, and helped coordinate plant selection and sequence for the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden. Michael returned to the Arboretum in 2007 as curator of living collections.
Jianhua Li 1998-1999: As Putnam Fellow, Jianhua Li studied the phylogenetic relationships of witch hazels and studied the classification of tree lilacs with Arboretum propagator Jack Alexander. After his fellowship, Jianhua served a senior research scientist at the Arboretum until 2009. He is currently teaches and conducts research as an associate professor of biology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
Keiko Satoh 1997-1998: During her appointment as a Putnam Fellow, Keiko Satoh worked on the E. H. Wilson archival collection, particularly researching his plant introductions and their distribution by the Arboretum. Her focus on the distribution of Metasequoia culminated in an article for Arnoldia on the global travels of the plant initiated by the Arboretum in the late 1940s.
Katherine Gould Mathews 1997-1998: Katherine Gould Mathews first worked with Arnold Arboretum scientists as a curatorial assistant at the Harvard University Herbaria. As a Fellow, she studied the phylogenetics of the eastern North American/eastern Asian disjunct genus Triosteum (Caprifoliaceae). Katherine is currently an assistant professor of biology at Western Carolina University, where her research focuses on the evolutionary history of southern Appalachian plant species.
Jinshuang Ma 1995-1996:  As Putnam Fellow, Jinshuang Ma studied the natural history and worldwide cultivation of Metasquoia glyptostroboides, a species originally distributed worldwide by the Arnold Arboretum. Since 2001, Jinshuang has worked as a research taxonomist at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. His research career has centered on conservation biology, the flora of Asia, and taxonomic advances.
Kim Tripp 1994-1996: As a Putnam Fellow, Kim Tripp used the living collections to examine the physiology of plant adaptability and propagation in a range of exotic and native taxa, including established historic accessions, newly collected specimens, and rarely cultivated species. After serving as director at the New York Botanical Garden, she turned to a new career in osteopathic medicine at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine
David Ackerly 1994: David Ackerly initiated his postdoctoral work on the evolution of the genus Acer (maple). As an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, David is still utilizing data he collected during his Putnam Fellowship and including the maples in new studies on the evolution of woody plants. His research focuses on trait-based community ecology, niche and trait evolution, and climate change.
Jun Wen 1991-1992: As a Putnam Fellow, Jun Wen utilized cutting-edge analyses and newly developed molecular tools to examine the biogeographic distribution of plants in eastern Asia and eastern North America. As a research scientist and curator at the Smithsonian Institution, her research program has successfully incorporated classical field explorations, modern DNA molecular tools, and advanced theories of phylogenetics and biogeography.
Michael Dirr 1991: Michael Dirr came to the Arboretum as a Putnam Fellow during a sabbatical from his work as a faculty member of the University of Georgia. Of the Fellowship, Michael states that it “was a springboard to the worldwide panoply of woody plants. I spent my days in the remarkable living collection, a herbarium that blankets the world, and a library where a researcher’s queries are always answered. What more could a plantsman ask?”
Richard Schulhof 1989-1990: As a Fellow, Richard Schulhof developed the first comprehensive plan for the Arboretum collections and landscape, and was hired thereafter as the Arboretum’s director of public programs. After serving as director of Descanso Gardens in his native Southern California, Richard was lured back to the Arboretum as the deputy director. Currently, he is the chief executive officer at Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
Elizabeth Kellogg 1989-1990: The Putnam Fellowship gave Elizabeth Kellogg the opportunity to learn and apply new genetic techniques to solve contemporary research questions. Currently, she is the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Botanical Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her research includes explorations of the molecular machinery that control plant shape and structure and investigations of plant morphology and variation exhibited by closely related plants.
Jessica Gurevitch 1989: To relate the complexity of leaf shape to ecological and evolutionary factors, Jessica Gurevitch, professor and chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, collected and analyzed a large number of maple leaves from the Arboretum’s living collection. The Putnam Fellowship gave her the freedom to explore new research directions toward statistical applications in plant population and community ecology.
Tokushiro Takaso 1988-1990: Tokushiro Takaso utilized the Arboretum’s vast collection of conifers to study pollination mechanisms as a Putnam Fellow. He is currently at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Okinawa, Japan. There, he leads a project aimed at understanding the interactions between the natural environment and human social systems in subtropical islands.
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