Rob Massatii, a Herbarium Graduate Student Curatorial Assistant (GSCA) for the winter semester of 2013 was recently awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the  National Science Foundation.

Massatti, a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, studies plant systematics, taxonomy and population biology. His project is titled “Tests of parallel divergence processes in montane plants: links between population differentiation and species diversity patterns.”

“The processes that historically affected species diversification are being exacerbated today as the climate warms, forcing upper montane and alpine species to establish at higher altitudes,” states Massatti’s proposal. “As their habitat disappears, it is foreseeable that species adapted to the coldest and harshest habitats will be extirpated. To maintain diversity, humans will have to reintroduce species into appropriate habitat. Because resources are very limited for these types of activities, conservation practitioners must use the best available information to ensure that their efforts will succeed. This research will inform conservation’s best practices by determining what factors affect the geographic distribution of species’ genetic variation. Fine-tuning species distribution modeling will also provide practical benefits because it will help conservation practitioners narrow down potential areas suitable for reintroduction efforts".

Mentored for his GSCA by Curator Tony Reznicek and Collections Manager Richard Rabeler, Massatii was exposed to hands on training in curatorial activities as well as upgrading and verifying the type collections and mounting plants. 

Massatti, whose advisors are Drs. Lacey Knowles and Tony Reznicek was awarded $20,215 for two years.