Research News

David Burke and Sarah Kyker Co-Author a Book Chapter

February 2021 – A forthcoming book, volume 1 of Forest Microbiology, will include a chapter written by David Burke and Sarah Kyker. This volume is titled Tree Microbiome: Phylosphere, Endosphere, and Rhizosphere. The chapter by Burke and Kyker documents how mycorrhizal fungi influence bacterial communities in the rhizosphere of forests.

Second Graders Take a Virtual Field Trip to the Long Science Center

January 29, 2021 – Sarah Kyker took second graders from Dentzler Elementary School on a virtual field trip to the Ellen Corning Long and T. Dixon Long Center for Plant and Environmental Science. The students learned about current research on Beech Leaf Disease and had a virtual look at a science lab!

David Burke Teaches Virtual Lesson on Soil Ecology

January 20, 2021 – David Burke gave a virtual lesson in soil ecology to middle school students through the Alfred Holden Leadership Institute of the YMCA. Approximately 40 students participated in a module called “Soil is Alive” where the students learn about the living organisms beneath our feet!

Stuble Lab Receives Invasive Plants Research Grant

January 2021 – Holden Scientist, Katie Stuble, and graduate student, Alexa Wagner, have received funding from the Ohio Invasive Plants Council. Their project, titled “Determining dynamics responsible for plant community responses to overstory thinning and invasive species management,” was awarded funding for $1,500. This support will help efforts to quantify the impacts management in Working Woods has on the survival and growth of young invasive species, as well as, the reproductive success of adult shrub species. This information will hopefully help predict restoration outcomes and inform management aiming to reestablish native plant communities.

Scientists collect data in Working Woods.

Holden Scientists Publish Commentary in New Phytologist

October 30, 2020 – Holden Scientist, Juliana Medeiros, and Postdoctoral Scholar, Randy Long, have published a commentary in the new issue of New Phytologist. The commentary discusses how studies of root traits and their influence on water transport in plants need to include the evolutionary history of the plant species. The commentary can be read here.

Holden Researcher is Guest Instructor at Lake Erie College

October 20, 2020 – Holden Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, was invited to Lake Erie College (LEC) as a guest lab instructor for Dr. Deborah Schulman’s Microbiology class for the second year in a row. For the two-part lab, the LEC students extracted total DNA from soil samples and then used an established biotechnology method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to amplify bacterial species living in the soil. The analyzed soil samples are being used to compare new and old growth forests at Holden, however the techniques that the students learned can be used to analyze communities of microbes living anywhere.

Study on Lesser Celandine Published in the Journal Biological Invasions 

October 8, 2020 – David Burke, Holden’s Vice President for Science and Conservation, and Postdoctoral Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, are co-authors on a study of lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) that is in the current issue of Biological Invasions. The study was conducted in the laboratories at the Long Science Center by Allison Paolucci who, at the time, was an undergraduate at Cleveland State University working with professor Emily Rauschert. The project investigated how fungi that were associated with the roots of lesser celandine, including ericoid mycorrhizal fungi and dark septate fungi, potentially influence plant performance. The published article can be read here.

Greenhouse Study Conducted at Holden Published in the Journal Oecologia

October 8, 2020 – The current issue of the journal Oecologia includes an article titled “The soil biotic community protects Rhododendron spp. across multiple clades from the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi at a cost to plant growth.” This article, which includes Holden Scientist Juliana Medeiros and Holden Adjunct Scientist and CWRU professor Jean Burns as co-authors, details a greenhouse study led by CWRU graduate student Yu Liu that was conducted at Holden. The study tested the effects of soil biota on disease resistance and plant traits across four clades of Rhododendron and can be read here.

The Wei Lab Welcomes Jessica LaBella

September 2020 – Jessica LaBella began a year-long internship in the Wei Lab this month thanks to funding from the R. Henry Norweb, Jr. Fellowship for Scientific Research in Horticulture. Jessica graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry this May. Her research at Holden will focus on the effects of the rhizosphere and environmental microbes on plant physiology and plant-to-plant interactions.

The Research Department Welcomes Ph.D. Student Claudia Victoroff

September 2020 – Claudia Victoroff is a new Ph.D. student in David Burke’s lab and was welcomed by the Research Department this month. She holds a Master of Science degree from the State University of New York and will continue her research on mycorrhizal fungi during her Ph.D., which is jointly hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Holden Forests and Gardens.

Claudia Victoroff and her field crew in the Bartlett Experimental Forest, New Hampshire

The Stuble Lab Welcomes Emma Dawson-Glass

September 2020 – Research Specialist, Emma Dawson-Glass, was welcomed by the Stuble lab. Emma’s research will focus on community assembly, species dynamics, and ecosystem function.

Rory Schiafo and Emily Galloway Head to Graduate School

August 2020 – The Research Department said goodbye to Emily Galloway and Rory Schiafo, who each began their graduate careers this month. Emily is in a Ph.D. program at Miami University and Rory is in a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden. We wish both of them well, as they go on to study restoration, and can’t wait to watch their scientific careers unfold.

The Burke Lab Welcomes Mary Pitts

August 2020 – Research Specialist, Mary Pitts, was welcomed by the Burke lab. Mary will research beech leaf disease (BLD) as part of a collaborative project with the U.S. Forest Service.

Mary Pitts

The Stuble Lab’s Research Highlighted in Science Magazine

August 11, 2020 – Katie Stuble was quoted in Science magazine. She was interviewed about the work she has done with ants, which disperse the seeds of forest wildflowers. This article in Science (found here) followed a presentation Katie made at the Ecological Society of America meeting last week (all-virtual meeting this year). Katie’s presentation was based on the work she and some of her summer research interns, including 2017 Norweb Fellow Sergio Sabat Bonilla, have conducted over the last few years in Stebbins Gulch.

Members of Holden’s Research Department Attend Remote Conferences

August 2020 – This summer, scientific societies opted to hold their national meetings virtually and research from Holden was presented. Scientist Na Wei attended the Botanical Society of America’s remote annual meeting from July 27-31. She presented on “Polyploidy confers ecological advantage in wild and synthetic Fragaria” during the symposium session “From Genes to Distributions: physiological ecology as an integrator of polyploid biology.” The Ecological Society of America held their annual meeting from August 3-6 and Holden scientist Katie Stuble and PhD candidate Sharon Danielson remotely attended. Katie Stuble presented work exploring forest biodiversity and processes across Holden’s patchwork of land use history. Her talk was titled “Ant-mediated see dispersal in today’s forests: How agricultural abandonment and earthworm invasion are driving seed dispersal .” Sharon Danielson presented her research on variability in tree communities between urban and rural forests in her talk, “Assessing tree community structure in urban remnant forests and rural forests.”

Latest Newsletter Released by the Rhododendron Research Network

July 2020 – Read the latest news in Rhododendron research in the July 2020 edition of the Rhododendron Research Network Newsletter (found here). This network, led by Holden Scientist Dr. Juliana Medeiros and Dr. Erik Nilsen of Virginia Tech University, has attracted and connected prominent researchers from around the globe for collaborative projects, including researchers in China, the US, Canada, India, Japan, the UK and Germany, and connected them with community science volunteers based both in the American Rhododendron Society and at Holden. Please visit to learn more about how the Rhododendron Research Network is advancing Rhododendron horticulture, research and conservation, and increasing awareness of genus Rhododendron as one of Earth’s biodiversity treasures.

David Burke and Adam Hoke Co-Authored a Study on Beech Leaf Disease

May 2020 – The Burke lab is continuing research on beech leaf disease and had another paper published. This paper was led by Sharon Reed who is with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. David Burke and Adam Hoke are co-authors on the study, as we contributed data from Holden’s lower Baldwin research plots on nematode population size. This paper appeared in Forest Pathology and can be found here.

Holden’s Leach Station in the Akron Beacon Journal

May 28, 2020 – Pictures of Connor Ryan, Holden’s Rhododendron Collections Manager, and some of the sites around the David G. Leach Research Station were part of an online piece by the Akron Beacon Journal. Take a look at the pictures here.

Katie Stuble is a Co-Author on a Study Published in the Journal Ecology

May 26, 2020 – Katie Stuble co-authored a paper titled “Year effects: Inter-annual variation as a driver of community assembly dynamics” for the journal Ecology. The published study explores the substantial, but rarely acknowledged, impacts of interannual variability on the outcomes of community assembly (the process by which new plant communities come together). You can read the article here.

The Research Department Welcomes Summer Interns

May 2020 – Holden’s Research Department is hosting local students for our summer intern program. Due to COVID-19, the majority of our summer research is being conducted in the field and in a socially-distant manner. The summer research projects range in topics that include the Malus apple microbiome, forest restoration, phenology of spring ephemerals, tree response to their urban environment, and the expansion of red cedar range.

Interns social distancing in the field

Holden Researchers Participate in Climate Change Webinar

April 15, 2020 – Holden’s Rhododendron Collections Manager, Connor Ryan, and Research Associate, Sarah Kyker, participated in a webinar run by Oberlin College. The webinar presented information about the significance of trees and forests in our daily lives and in the broader context of climate change. Holden researchers joined individuals from the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE), as well as the Departments of Environmental Studies, Biology, East Asian Studies, and Geology at Oberlin College to discuss the importance of trees and climate change. A recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

The Medeiros Lab Welcomes Randy Long

March 2, 2020 – The Medeiros Lab at Holden Arboretum welcomed new postdoctoral researcher Dr. Randy Long, who will work on a project funded by the National Science Foundation examining the physiology of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). This interdisciplinary project is being conducted in collaboration with researchers at three local universities, Kent State, Ohio State and Denison, to better understand the relative importance of factors like climate, seed dispersal and fire regime in driving the westward range expansion of this long-lived woody shrub into grassland ecosystems.

Dr. Randy Long at Holden Arboretum

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