David DeFilippis NSF Fellow

 

GRADUATE STUDENT RECIEVES NSF RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP

 

David DeFilippis, a first year graduate student in the Schnitzer Lab, has just been awarded a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. This program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported disciplines. “As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching.”

 

David’s dissertation research looks to explain tropical woody plant distribution across a broad rainfall gradient using an affordable and novel wireless sensor technology that he has developed to measure fine-scale changes in plant growth. He plans to monitor the daily growth and activity of locally abundant and rare tree and liana species along a strong rainfall gradient in the Republic of Panama. He will also measure the seasonal growth and survival of seedlings of these same species. These data sets will allow him to determine whether seedling and adult growth and survival during the dry season are complementary or convergent predictors of species abundance. Current technologies for measuring plant responses to drought in the field lack precision and temporal resolution to capture fine scale responses, or are extremely labor intensive and prohibitively expensive to implement at scales necessary to determine if it is dry season growth or dry season tolerance that explains these species distribution.



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