2018 DaRin Butz Intern Matthew Fertakos was selected as a 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize (URP) recipient by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT). The prizes are considered the Society’s most prestigious recognition of undergraduate achievement. The URP has been presented annually at the international Botany conference since 2015 for outstanding, independent research projects in plant systematics completed within the last two years.
Matt just completed a bachelor’s degree at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, New Jersey, U.S.A., and was awarded the prize for his work on the assessment of species distribution modeling and species delimitation in North American Castanea. Working alongside Dr. Wendy Clement at the College of New Jersey and Dr. Elizabeth Spriggs, Arnold Arboretum Putnam Fellow, Fertakos utilized 4,527 herbarium specimens and climate data to assess species limits between C. pumila and C. ozarkensis based on climate space analysis, and evaluated the accuracy of chestnut species distribution models when compared to fossil pollen data. Nominator Spriggs describes Fertakos as “a dedicated, creative, generous researcher who is passionate about plants and science and is generally curious about the natural world. He is a wonderful scientist with a bright future ahead of him.”