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EEB grad student lands fellowship to study Michigan weeds

Robin Waterman, a W.K. Kellogg Biological Station graduate student in the Conner Lab, has been awarded a multi-year fellowship from the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Institute.

Robin Waterman
Robin Waterman

The pre-doctoral fellowship, from the Institute’s Education and Workforce Development Program, will provide research funds in addition to covering her stipend and tuition for three years, for a total award of around $75K from June 2023 to May 2026. Waterman, who is in the Department of Plant Biology and the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program at Michigan State University, plans to use the fellowship to support the remainder of her dissertation research, which examines the relative roles of evolution (i.e., genetic change) and phenotypic plasticity (i.e., changes in traits without changes in genes) in driving adaptation to crop fields.

More specifically, Waterman’s project combines a large multi-year field experiment conducted at KBS with genomic data for three widespread and problematic weeds in Michigan: common lambsquarters, common ragweed, and Canadian horseweed. Along with the research component, her project proposal also included mentoring undergrad and high school students, presenting research to various audiences, attending skill-building workshops, and developing K-12 educational materials. 

“I am thrilled by this opportunity to devote full-time effort to my dissertation project,” said Waterman. “I’d like to particularly thank Dr. Jeff Conner for his mentorship on this project and everyone who submitted a letter of support for my proposal.”

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Education and Workforce Development Program focuses on developing the next generation of research, education, and extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences.

Read the full story at the KBS site.