Arboretum Putnam Fellows Announced

April 21, 2014

2014 Putnam Fellows

Arboretum Putnam Fellows Announced

Weld Hill

Putnam Fellows Jessica Savage (left) and Ailene Ettinger

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is pleased to announce that Dr. Ailene Ettinger and Dr. Jessica Savage were awarded Putnam Fellowships in Plant Science to conduct independent research utilizing the Arboretum’s plant collections.

Ailene Ettinger received her doctoral degree from the University of Washington where she studied the role of climate and competition in determining species’ ranges. She plans to pursue these interests at the Arboretum by bridging the fields of climatology, ecology, and evolution to gain a comprehensive picture of climate sensitivity across diverse species. Many of the species in the Arboretum’s living collections are growing outside of their native ranges, and these plants may be good indicators of their species’ response to climate change. Dr. Ettinger will compare their growth in a common environment using core samples and trait analysis (including phenology and leaf area), and correlate these results with climate data to model species-specific responses to future conditions.

Receiving her doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota, Jessica Savage conducted a comparative study focusing on the role of phenology and cold acclimation on the distribution of willow (Salix) species. As a Putnam Fellow, Dr. Savage will focus on the physiological mechanisms involved in precocious flowering. During winter dormancy, vascular transport is greatly reduced in many plants as protection against freezing. In order to bloom in the spring, vascular activity must be reactivated in order to transport carbon and other resources to the developing flowers. Trees that flower precociously, before the leaves emerge, benefit from decreased pollinator competition, but face risks associated with freezing temperatures and limited carbon. Dr. Savage plans to compare xylem and phloem physiology, and anatomy during floral development, between pairs of closely related species that represent precocious and non-precocious flowering habits.

The Katharine H. Putnam Fellowships in Plant Science are made possible by the generosity of George and Nancy Putnam through the Putnam Fellows Fund.

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