Mary A. Bancroft Memorial Scholarship
2013 Recipient: Anna Zahner
- Graduate student
- Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Forb life-history responses to grazer-mediated habitat alterations
Personal Interest in Plants
I've been interested in plants for as long as I can remember. In first grade, we dissected some lilies and petunias in order to learn how flowers work. So, as soon as I got home that day, I dissected one of each of the flowers in our garden and was filled with wonder at how different, yet beautiful they all are. (A feeling that's only grown as I've learned more about the plant world's amazing diversity.) In third grade, I got permission from my parents to add an "experimental section" to our garden where anything we don't recognize as a weed is allowed to grow. Sometimes we get wonderful wildflowers like purple cone flower and black-eyed susan this way; other discoveries have not been so lucky. In fifth grade, I loved going on nature hikes with our Camp Fire leader Lora because she could identify all the plants we saw. I knew I wanted to be like that when I grew up. In college, I took every plant-related course my school offered. My favorites were Local Flora and Plant Taxonomy, both of which required us to make plant collections to help us learn to identify native species. I loved going out in the field and getting to know new species, even if I probably looked a little crazy with my stack of leaves and twigs. Outside of class, I studied maize genetics as an undergraduate researcher. I enjoyed that work, but learned I am more interested in studying plants in their native habitats. Now, as a graduate student, I'm happy to be doing exactly that, as I get to take even more field samples while getting to know several species of forbs very, very well.