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Student wins research award from Botanical Society

By Upstate Institute on January 14, 2010

Wes Testo ’12 has won a prestigious award from the Botanical Society of America for his research of a rare species of fern protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Testo presented a poster at the society’s annual conference held recently in Providence, RI. Also presenting a poster about fern research was Michael Britton ’12.

Both students work closely with assistant professor of biology Eddie Watkins, whose research into the American Hart’s tongue fern is funded by the Upstate Institute.

At the conference, Testo discussed his examination of the ecophysiology of the American Hart’s tongue fern, and his focus on stress physiology, calcium relations, and gametophyte development of the plant.

His poster presentation earned him a Botanical Society of America Undergraduate Student Research Award.

“This is a welcome acknowledgment of the valuable research we do here at Colgate, and the close collaboration between faculty and students that is part of our everyday curriculum,” said Watkins.

Fewer than 4,000 American Hart’s tongue ferns exist, found in only a few localities in New York, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, and Ontario, Canada. (More than 90 percent of the plants can be found within a two-hour drive of Colgate’s campus.)

The plant’s unusual distribution pattern seems to be related to its habitat requirements: it is only known to grow in lime sinks and on steep talus slopes with calcareous substrates under hardwood canopies.

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