2020 Rundblad Research Fellows

The John J. Brander and Christine E. Rundblad Research Fellowship Program at the Milwaukee Public Museum seeks to stimulate fundamental research by scientists doing research on Wisconsin biodiversity or environmental issues, especially those that utilize and strengthen the natural science collections at MPM.

woman holding sunflowerDr. Nora Mitchell
Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire  

Sunflowers (in the genus Helianthus) are an iconic plant and one of just a few crops to be domesticated in North America. Although cultivated sunflowers are economically important, the diversity of wild sunflowers is also especially rich (over 80 recognized taxa) and many are known to hybridize. Dr. Nora Mitchell will sample DNA from current wild sunflowers and specimens from MPM’s Herbarium to understand the population structure and evidence for hybridization (both in the past and present) of perennial sunflowers in Wisconsin. Her studies will help to document and understand the potential for climate change to alter patterns of diversity and hybridization in this region.

man in hat carrying babyDr. Dan Carter
Landowner Services Coordinator for The Prairie Enthusiasts - Viroqua

Oak savannas and woodlands are critically imperiled and face imminent threats from lack of stewardship (e.g. absence of regular prescribed fire), invasive species, and development. Dr. Carter will perform botanical inventories in oak savanna and oak woodland natural communities. This work will provide 2020 standardized botanical surveys and floristic quality analyses to organizations overseeing the management of these remnant oak communities, which will inform and assess stewardship progress over time. Dr. Carter will also collect and deposit specimens of species occurring in SE WI oak communities with Milwaukee Public Museum and investigate differences between atypically intact “island” oak savanna and woodland communities surrounded by wetland and nearby “non-island” communities situated in otherwise similar geologic and soils contexts.