The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is pleased to announce that it has awarded Deland Awards for Student Research to Juan Losada, Mariana Oliveira e Castro, and Preeti Rao. Established in 1992 through the generous bequest of F. Stanton Deland, Jr., Harvard c’36, the award supports research by graduate and advanced undergraduate students investigating the comparative biology of woody plants.
Juan Losada is a Ph.D. candidate with Professor Maria Herrero in the Pomology Department of the Aula Dei Experimental Station–CSIC, Spain. His graduate work has focused on the reproductive biology of apples (Malus spp.). He is interested in the events between pollination and fertilization, primarily the role of arabinogalactan proteins in pollen-pistil interactions. The Deland Award will enable Juan to spend the summer working at the Weld Hill Research Building and to expand his studies to include additional species in the Arboretum’s Malus collection.
Mariana Oliveira e Castro is working on her master’s thesis in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Coimbra in Portugal under the supervision of João Carlos Mano Castro Loureiro. In collaboration with John and Sally Perkins of the American Rhododendron Society, Mariana will determine the ploidy level (number of chromosome pairs) of 50 specimens of Rhododendron calendulaceum held in the Arboretum’s living collection. R. calendulaceum, a tetraploid, shares many characteristics with the diploid species R. cumberlandense. Ploidy level analysis will help to clarify the classification of Rhododendron species present in the collection.
A Ph.D. candidate working with Dr. Lucy Hutyra at Boston University, Preeti Rao aims to understand how urbanization affects ecosystems. By comparing two plots in the Arboretum’s Bussey Brook Meadow with plots at the Harvard Forest and other areas in between, she hopes to quantify the effects of urbanization on nitrogen and carbon dynamics. Her independent project is a collaboration with Adrien Finzi, an associate professor of biology at Boston University, and Arboretum Senior Research Scientist Peter Del Tredici. It is part of a larger BU/Harvard collaborative project, the Boston Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA-Ex).