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TCNJ Biology Student Wins Research Prize from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists

Recent Biology graduate Matthew Fertakos (May 2019) has been selected by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) as a recipient of its 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize. The Undergraduate Research Prize is considered the Society’s most prestigious award of undergraduate achievement, and it recognizes outstanding, independent research projects in plant systematics completed within the last two years. The award was presented in Tucson, AZ at the annual Botany conference from July 27-31, 2019. 

Matthew Fertakos was recognized for his work on the assessment of species distribution modeling and species delimitation in North American chestnut, Castanea. Working alongside his faculty mentors – Dr. Wendy Clement (TCNJ) and Dr. Elizabeth Spriggs (Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University) – Fertakos utilized 4,527 herbarium specimens and climate data to assess species limits between two species of Castanea (C. pumila and C. ozarkensis) based on climate space analysis, and evaluated the accuracy of chestnut species distribution models when compared to fossil pollen data. His mentors described Fertakos as “a dedicated, creative, generous researcher who is passionate about plants and science and is generally curious about the natural world. He is a wonderful scientist with a bright future ahead of him.”

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