May 01, 2015, BY Heather Johns

L to R: Lacey Gavala '18, Morgan Roche '15, Mae Lacey '18, Emma Frawley '17, Nic Diaz' 17 and Ally Boni '15

The students in Professor Chris Martine's botany lab are hard-working, intensely curious and interdisciplinary — not to mention award-winning. They've even taken to calling themselves the "Martine Machine" and designed a logo for the group.

"That's the way they roll," said Martine. "They just make things happen. And the best part is that what happens is often new discovery. Every week they are helping us learn things we didn't know the week before."

This year, the Botanical Society of America (BSA) selected only nine students to receive Undergraduate Student Research Awards, which support undergraduate student research and are made on the basis of research proposals and letters of recommendation.

Five of them are part of the Martine Machine: Nic Diaz '17, biology; Emma Frawley '17, environmental studies and Spanish; Lacey Gavala '18, biomedical engineering; Daniel Hayes '17, biology; and Mae Lacey '18, animal behavior. In fact, Bucknell students have won 11 of the 21 BSA research awards given in the last three years.

"It says a good deal about the Bucknell programs," said BSA Executive Director William Dahl. "We normally don't see such a consistent approach. With participation at this level, we hope to see these students moving into positions on committees and hopefully the Board at some time in the future."

The research awards required a considerable amount of work on the part of the students, said Martine. "They worked with myself and Burpee Post-doc Ingrid Jordon-Thaden to develop their projects, become familiar with the relevant scientific literature, and then draft effective proposals," he explained. "The process itself is training in professional science, whether they win the awards or not."

"As a first-year student, I am more than honored to receive such a prestigious award," said Gavala. "Working in a research lab is an experience I am grateful to have as an undergraduate. With the help of the BSA award, I will be continuing my studies this summer — and I could not be more excited!"

The four other awardees plan to conduct research in biology this summer, thanks to the Wayne E. and Margaret S. Manning Internship in the Botanical Sciences funds — and now with additional support from the BSA.

Young Botanist Award
Seniors Ally Boni, Ian Gilman and Morgan Roche are leaving Bucknell on a high note, as 2015 recipients of the Young Botanist Award. It's given to graduating seniors from across North America who have done exemplary work in the plant sciences during their undergraduate tenure.

All three are previous BSA Undergraduate Research Award recipients.

"These students have been with me for years and and have been real leaders in the lab," said Martine. "They have presented at conferences and are co-authors on papers we are preparing for publication."

"Winning the Young Botanist Award means a lot to me because it shows that botany is not an archaic, simple science, but a field being driven by complex genetic work in a field pushed by young scientists," said Gilman, a physics major. "Winning this award along with Morgan and Ally is really a statement as to the amazing work we do as undergraduates."  

The students will be formally recognized during a reception at the Botany 2015 conference in Edmonton, Canada, this summer.