Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship Awarded

May 4, 2009
Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Association (GTA) are pleased to announce that Nicholas Dowie has received the Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship for 2009. Dowie, the fifth recipient of an Evison Fellowship, is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in the Department of Biology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He plans to use his fellowship award to study the symbiotic relationship between three specific organisms in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks: conifer trees, pinedrops (Pterospora andomedea), a unique non-photosynthetic plant that spends most of its life underground and obtains carbon from fungi in order to reproduce, and a truffle-like fungus (Rhizopogon spp.) that associates with conifers to obtain carbon, which it does not produce itself.

Dowie received a Bachelor of Science degree in plant biology at Montana State University in Bozeman in 2005. He expects to finish a Master of Science degree at the University of Wyoming during summer 2009. Already working towards a Ph.D., Dowie is most interested in the study of evolutionary ecology, mycorrhizal symbioses (mutually-beneficial relationships between fungi and plant roots), and myco-heterotrophic plants that obtain carbon from various species of fungi.

Dowie’s research will involve collecting and analyzing the genetics from samples of pinedrops, fungi, and various types of conifers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Dowie will attempt to decipher the nature of relationships between these organisms, determine the intricacies of the three-way relationship between conifers, pinedrops and fungi, and reveal how these species persist in natural ecosystems. Pinedrops, which are ecologically sensitive and have become extinct in some regions, may associate with specific strains of fungus to reproduce and persist. At the conclusion of his study, Dowie will submit his research data and findings for review by the divisions of science and resource management at Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

The Evison Fellowship was established in memory of Boyd Evison after his death in October, 2002, and created to honor Boyd’s extensive and dedicated service to both the National Park Service (NPS) and the GTA. Evison retired in 1994 from an exemplary 42-year career with the NPS and soon after began a second career as executive director for the GTA—a non-profit park partner dedicated to aiding interpretive, educational, and research programs for Grand Teton National Park.

The Evison Fellowship program encourages scientific and conservation-related research in national parks. It invites highly motivated, graduate students to conduct research within Grand Teton and the greater Yellowstone area; and it supports study leading to a master’s or Ph.D. degree in the biosciences, geosciences or social sciences. Upon program completion, the Evison Fellow provides a copy of his/her thesis to the GTA.

An Evison Fellowship provides tuition assistance and a yearly stipend to cover travel and field research costs; Grand Teton National Park offers housing and office space for students during field sessions. To inquire about applying for a Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship—or to donate funds toward this worthy program—please contact Jan Lynch, executive director, Grand Teton Association by mail at P.O. Box 170, Moose, Wyoming, 83012, or by phone at 307.739.3406.